A Valentine’s Day Letter to Crohn’s Disease

Yes, you read that title correctly. I used the words “Valentine’s Day” and “Crohn’s disease” in the same sentence. I’d be lying if I said I would have been able to do that years ago. Hate would have been a more relatable feeling and word. As Valentine’s Day approaches and love is in the air, I’m choosing to look at my disease with my whole heart and to share my feelings with you.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t know my strength.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t have my perspective.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t know the meaning of a “feel good” day.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t be able to empathize with others on the same level.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t be able to see people’s true colors.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I may have ended up marrying a person who really wasn’t about being with someone in sickness and in health.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I’d feel invincible and take my health for granted.

If it weren’t for my Crohn’s I wouldn’t be me.

In life there are triumphs and there are challenges. There are stresses and there are successes. There are highs and there are lows. I find embracing the good, the bad and the ugly enables us to reach our potential. The painful, low points are difficult in the moment, but in hindsight they push us to our limits and show us all what we are capable of.

A photo of the writer holding a heart with "Crohn's" written above it.

People often ask me if I wish I didn’t have Crohn’s disease. I find it to be a loaded question. I’ve gotten to the point in my patient journey where I wouldn’t change a thing. So much of taking on this chronic illness is your attitude. There’s no sense in wondering and wishing for something that is not possible. Once you take a deep breath and stop living in your healthy past, you come to realize that you were given this hand of cards for a reason.

Your voice, your experience, your journey has the power to inspire. You have the ability to change lives. You have the opportunity to show that invisible illness and everything that comes along with it doesn’t need to destroy your dreams.

While I know some days, weeks and months are going to be treacherous in this journey, do yourself a favor and stop being so hard on yourself. Love yourself. Love all of you. Even the part of you that is broken on the inside. I’ve been through the flare-ups and the scares. I’ve overcome pain that causes me to pass out. I’ve weathered the storm of being wheeled into surgery. I’ve done hundreds of injections and blood draws and pokes and prods. At the end of the day, you rise. You take those steps to heal. You focus on getting better. You do all you can to make it through. Crohn’s and any chronic illness for that matter gives you this opportunity over and over. So, while we all tend to have negative feelings about our health and worry about what the next hour will bring, try and pause and stop for a moment. Think about all the beauty and insight it’s provided — and love yourself and your disease for a second.

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