I Have What?


Your first three words. The next two, in response, are always puzzling regardless of which pair you get, “Ulcerative colitis” or “Crohn’s disease.”

You talk, you wonder, you worry, you try to understand. You ask a lot of questions but the answers don’t sink in. Words like forever and the rest of your life… they were supposed to apply to things like love, and tattoos. You go home with a pit in your stomach (and some ulcers in your intestines that you just found out about). You disappear into the internet only to reappear a few minutes later to use the toilet. Again. You eventually take the laptop into the bathroom with you, and surf interrupted.

Duodenum, jejunum, ileum, sigmoid colon, ileoanalanastamosis. They’re like names from a space alien movie. You start to wonder how you can ever tell anyone what’s wrong with you when it’s something going on in your rectum and anus. You soiled yourself a couple times while discovering that this wasn’t merely some bad shellfish you ate. Who wants to talk about that at the water cooler?

But even without the awkward parts, how do I tell people news like this? Especially when I hardly understand it myself? Will they worry? Will they freak out? Will they treat me like I’m broken? You stash those concerns on the back burner and return to researching obsessively. It hardly feels like effort because you’re so hungry for the information. You buy some books.

Finally you start to get a grasp on what colitis and Crohn’s are. Thanks to google’s auto-search algorithm, it takes you a few days to discover that the ‘h’ actually doesn’t come after the “C.” But you’re so used to typing ‘Chron’s’ that it takes another few days to reverse the habit.

Getting the diagnosis is never fun; it’s a lot to take in. But help is out there. That’s what we’re here for. If you’re a newcomer, welcome. If you’re an old hat, hats off to you for making it this far. There’s hope for everybody. Hang in there.

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.