Disease ends one perspective, begins another


I practiced volleyball on the side of my house each and every day for years, up until the day before my 15th birthday. That day, I sat in the doctor’s office and was informed that my lifestyle was about to drastically change.

The first time that I experienced a physical struggle because of Chron’s disease was after I got my g-tube surgery. The surgery wasn’t an option if I wanted to continue to eat–Chron’s is a digestive disease in which food is seen as a foreign object. The immune system attacks the food, which prevents nutrients from being digested and also causes ulcers. With the tube, I could continue to eat, but I had to quit my volleyball career.

Because of the surgery, I can’t run for very long distances, or very fast. If I were to do so, my stomach wall would tear. I also no longer can participate in physical education classes, which is awkward at school. The athletic part of my life is now sub-to-none.

Not only did my lifestyle change, but my outlook on life did, as well.

Rather than get emotional, I accepted this diagnosis as a challenge and have been fighting it ever since. Chron’s can only be managed by meds that are close to, if not more potent than, chemo; the side effects of the meds are not the easiest to deal with, whether it is the chronic monthly nosebleeds or the self-developed manic bipolar disorder.

The insecurities from surgery scars or other digestive issues can be very burdening, as well. Everyone eats, and there frequently come times when I’m in a situation with swimming. Being male, my scars are visible, and I must either bite the bullet and go in, or be the odd one out.

As a person, I have grown immensely because of the disease. When one simple decision can bring about your death, and when death is your biggest fear, that is a pretty scary situation. It puts you in a huge amount of depression about not being normal because of having a disease, but I have learned that there are worse things in life.

I have learned to live my life how I want to live it, not to stress too much about the outcome of a situation, but to trust my intuition and go with my gut. Over the course of my time on this planet, I have never been more alive.