It’s been about six weeks since my guts began their uprising, and so I thought I’d write a column about how my incredible treatment plan and powers of resilience have resulted in feeling fabulous again (you know I love a redemption story).
The problem is, like a shimmering puddle ahead on a desert road, the imagined oasis of immediate good health was only a mirage. And if I may be completely candid, this stretch of highway hasn’t made for an easy journey.
My diagnosis has been upgraded (although it feels more like a downgrade) from ulcerative colitis to Crohn’s disease, which means that the internal chaos is more widespread and I’ll need a more aggressive treatment plan. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that makes my digestive tract from stem to stern attack itself for no good reason. It isn’t curable and there’s 1.6 million of us who have either Crohn’s or colitis.
It’s weird, though, because the physical part of this — taking care of my bag of bones — is actually pretty clear and relatively easy to manage. I take the meds, adjust my diet and try to stay rested and comfortable.
It’s the other part — the emotions — that are giving me a good run for my money. They often feel as raw as my innards.
I am sad, friends.
I’m sad because it feels like my body is betraying me. I’m sad because the steroids I take make me unrecognizable to myself and I’m sad that I care so much about what they’ve done to my appearance. I’m sad that I am less reliable and I am sad that I keep having to accept so much help.
I was thinking about my body’s civil war and having a particularly dramatic moment of martyrdom, when I said out loud to nobody but me as I drove to my doctor appointment this week, “Whyyyy? I am not the enemy. I am not the enemy of myself.”
For some reason, I just kept repeating it until I was screaming (to be a fly on the windshield, huh?) and I started to cry (because that’s sort of how things are going right now). But then two things occurred to me. The first was that I needed to stop crying because I was driving. The second was a little more profound.
I am not my own enemy — and yet, I’m kind of being a hateful jerk to the vessel that’s carrying me through this life. It ain’t perfect, but in what world does berating and demeaning someone make them more likely to succeed?
If my body were my friend (weird, I know, stay with me) or if my body were my family member or employee, would I ever meet it with such righteous judgement? The answer is definitively no.
Hating my overachieving immune system isn’t serving me. Hating my rounder silhouette isn’t serving me. And hating myself for accepting love and support surely isn’t serving me.
So I’m saying sorry. To me. To my body. Sorry for totally talking sh-- behind your back and judging you more harshly than I would anyone else.
I forgive your imperfections and know that this fire will somehow create the space for new life, even if it makes me sad from time to time.
But do slow down just a little, because I think I see a puddle up ahead.
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.