Because I'm on Facebook I have the privilege of becoming "friends" with many others from across the globe who suffer from Crohn's disease and other related stomach illnesses. Among us we share status updates and become members of groups all relating to how our illness affects our lives. It is interesting to see how so many people with the same basic issues deal with it in many different ways. It is also sad to see that most of them, if not all of them, also suffer other illness along with Crohn's. I have noticed a trend. Now this is in now way scientifically proven by any means so don't think there has been clinical trials and real research done here, but this is what I have seen. A great majority of Crohn's sufferers also experience kidney issues ie: stones, infections and pain. At least two of my new women Crohn's friends have recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Nearly all of us suffer from some form of arthritis ie: rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, or general arthritis and joint pain. Depression, bipolar, anxiety and insomnia also top the list. I'm sure their are many other issues we all face along with our Crohn's, but these are specifics that I have noticed across the board.
As I was listening to the radio on the way home from work today I heard something that made me think. They were talking about heroes and how our society dubs heroes out of the nitwits on Youtube who make ignorant videos that go viral in days. Our kids look up to celebrities like Charlie Sheen, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga and Tiger Woods as people they want to be like. How are these people our heroes? Their lives are only tragic because of choices they have made. (I'm coming to the point, I promise!)
Then you have us. The people on Facebook who share their struggles with Crohn's disease and other illnesses. Many might say it's just a place to complain and whine, but I find there is support in it. There is a human connection to finding that you are not suffering alone. That you aren't the only one who deals with trying to figure out when and how to tell your new employer why you are in the bathroom all the time. Figuring out why something you ate makes you feel so bad and what a tasty and much more 'gut friendly' alternative there is. Knowing that it isn't because you are frigid and uncaring, but because your body physically cannot take the demands of sex after having diarrhea 14 times in one day. Sometimes it just helps knowing you aren't alone. Or a freak. Or weak.
Then I realized that WE are heroes. Everyday heroes. We are strong people who overcome huge obstacles every single day. Sometimes by working full time jobs, raising families, all while being in pain and feeling tired. Or sometimes by just getting out of bed to lay on the couch. We fight just to feel good. We fight to eat. We fight to stay healthy and strong. And our bodies fight against us most of the time. But we never give up. We keep fighting because we are heroes. We are strong and we are determined. Maybe that is why so many of us deal with other illnesses along with our Crohn's. Because we can handle it. It sucks and we hate it and it may not be fair but we still fight back and we never give up.
So to all my friends with Crohn's, from the blogs, on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else - YOU are my heroes. Keep fighting!