I never thought I would ever walk out of an appointment with my gastroenterologist feeling as happy as I did last week! All went well and as anticipated, and all things going smoothly, I don’t need to go back for another 12 months.
I was actually on quite a high walking home after the appointment. It was like one of those WOW moments I’ve written about before. Was this really happening? It was like a dream. Like I was looking in from the outside. Was that really me he was talking to, telling everything was going well and that I was still in remission? Yes! Yes, it was!!
I felt like giving him a great big bear hug! I resisted as I’m not sure that’s appropriate Doctor/Patient behaviour! I settled for a warm and knowing look. I could see the genuine sincerity in his eyes and smile when he opened the door to his office and said “it’s so good to see you are so well”. Even his lovely receptionist who I’ve gotten to know quite well over the years commented a number of times on how healthy and happy I looked 🙂
It almost felt like more of a social visit than a medical one, and that was an odd, but wonderful feeling.
The whole point of this post is to show that things CAN and DO get better.
Ask me a few years ago and my doctor’s appointments were a completely different story. I never dreaded going, and I always felt I had amazing care and support, but sitting in the waiting room I would be filled with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
I was still coming to terms with it all (Crohn’s disease and having a chronic illness). I worried about the next steps. Frightened. New symptoms to explain. Unknown and unfamiliar territory. Another medication failed. Yet another new one to try. Fearing the worst. Awaiting blood test, stool sample, scope or biopsy results. Wondering if or when I would be in hospital again? Another specialist referral. Questions. Options. Running out of options. When would I improve? What if this doesn’t work?
Despite all that, there was always HOPE. It was hard. Some days I really struggled to stay optimistic, but if I gave up hope, that meant I had given up and given in, and I wasn’t going to do that. Without hope, what else do we have?
Although for me, like others, I ended up needing surgery to reach remission, for many more there is a non-surgical treatment that will get IBD under control. Whether a medication, diet, surgery, combination or something else – It’s just a matter of finding what works for you. This could take some time… years even … but I am confident it will happen.
There will be good and bad days amongst all this. There will be days you just want to crawl up in bed and cry. Days that the pain feels unbearable. There will also be days you feel well enough to go to work or go out with your friends and you will have a laugh and for a moment maybe even forget that you have IBD.
There will be some better and some worse doctor’s visits. Potentially multiple specialists and hospital stays. You might get abscesses, fistulas or fissures. You will learn to manage your symptoms better. You will learn what you can and can’t eat (or maybe diet won’t make a difference to you).
IBD is so individual and what works for one person may not work for the next. It’s just a matter of persevering.
There have been many, many times I honestly wasn’t sure I’d get to this point or ever feel anything but sick (and I know my IBD could flare again), BUT I DID! Please keep the faith that so can you or your loved one. Keep fighting. Stay strong. Never give up hope.