I managed to stay in a medication-free remission from Crohn's disease for three years & two months before I fell down into a flare.
Three years & two months of natural healing. It’s nothing to sneeze at, I know. I’m incredibly proud of my body & its ability to work with me to heal without medical intervention over that time. We’ve done a lot of hard work together, my bod & I.
Someone asked me awhile ago, what triggers a flare for you? Definitely I would say that prolonged bad food choices make a big difference to how I’m feeling. Sugar seems to inflame me quite quickly. Gluten is very hit & miss. Lactose? Forget it. But being perfect is not my strong suit. Moderation is a swear word in my humble opinion & cheese just seems to finds its way into my belly from time to time (okay, regularly).
But stress too. Not having a strong handle on stress seems to be the biggest culprit of this particular Crohn’s flare that has manifested itself into a righteous display of hot hatred, seemingly born out of a desire to humiliate me & shackle me to a toilet.
I guess 2020, with all of its lockdown challenges, the never-ending bars of chocolate & relentless Twitter feeds, managed to hatch the perfect environment for a nasty lingering flare that I haven't been unable to drown out. The usual home care treatments such as by being kind to myself, lying in bed watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, juicing, or making harmonious howling sounds with the waves of my bowel pain have failed me.
After such a long remission I was disappointed in myself & my body. I gave up & resorted to starting steroids again last week. I asked for steroids. I might've begged for them had I needed to. But after three years of having no use for steroids, I got real down on myself about taking them again. I felt like a massive failure. I almost felt embarrassed by the fact that I’d not managed to miraculously cure myself by now, which is ridiculous, but it sat heavy on me just the same. It sat there gaining some real weight until something shifted.
Until I started to feel better. Stronger. The darkness lifted. The pain got a little better, the nausea left, the fevers stopped. I was able to help my daughter with the things she needed again. I could start cooking food that was better for me which gave me more energy. It helped me stand up & gain the traction needed to start helping myself heal quicker alongside this medical intervention. It revealed small semblances of normalcy & thereafter came that familiar feeling of getting better. It's coming, slowly but surely. It feels better than the spiral I had been slipping into before I asked for help.
Asking for help in any form is hard, I think. Especially when we’ve spent so long proving that we’ve got what it takes to keep our shit together.
Asking for help is the hardest thing to do when you feel like it’s admitting to the world that you can't do the stuff that other people seem to manage easily.
But I needed help. So I asked. And there it was. Help granted. Healing button pushed. Pop the little white pill, Jade.
And weirdly, asking for help also opened me up for an even greater healing than just my poor old guts.
I see now that it’s okay to flail around on the ground, no one is judging. No one thinks you're failing.
Friends just ask you what you need, & check in, & check in again.
They say I’m so sorry that you feel like crap & they don't even flinch when you take them to the toilet with you while you're talking to them on the phone.
Friends bring you indoor plants, snacks, & love.
Husbands pull it all together & take care of the hard stuff & go that bit further just to make you laugh.
Daughters make millions of trips up & down the stairs to help you fetch the things you need & shower you with sweet kisses & hugs.
Mothers threaten to call A Current Affair when COVID protocols get in the way of your GP seeing you to give you the prescription for steroids (that you don’t even want to rely on) just because you’ve had an (expected) Crohn’s flare temperature but they say you’ll need to take a COVID test before you can be seen, even though you’ve been nowhere & seen no one, & waiting hours in lines without toilets is your worst nightmare. Thankfully your 20 year relationship with your gastro guy pays off when he books you in for a colonoscopy over the phone during lockdowns & makes sure you’ve got what you need to start the journey to conquering just one more flare.
I guess what I’m saying is, although I’ve tried so hard to show what it can look like to start to heal naturally with Crohn’s, at the end of the day, I still have Crohn’s, & sometimes this bastard likes to come back & shoot the breeze like an ex who just won’t take a hint.
But I can certainly be proud to say that I managed a personal best record in a med-free remission. My body & I teamed up & killed it for awhile. We can do it again, right? Whether or not another remission is easy to find or not, at least I know that the road to healing is a little easier to navigate when I've got good people around me, the kind of people who can giggle at what a stupidly big shit show this Crohn’s disease can be. Now to rest up & have a colonoscopy & check out what's what up there, then we can come up with a plan to stop it in its tracks.
So, here's to the next remission.
And here’s to anyone finding the courage to ask for help. For whatever it is that you need.