I have a friend with ulcerative colitis who I met about a year and a half ago at Get Your Guts in Gear briefly. She came with her boyfriend to one of the camp sites in 2012 with her two dogs; one of which looked like a male version of my dog Holli.
I have gotten to know her more and more and she is such a perfect example of someone who cherishes the time she feels well.
Last weekend, I went apple picking with her and a few other amazing people. I knew she had been going through a lot with her IBD and even worked earlier that day. When we met at the orchard, she was in such great spirits since the new medication she had been put on seemed to have taken care of the situation that was not only causing her a great deal of pain but other issues as well.
I had such a great day with this girl! I love having friends in the IBD community where our relationship doesn’t have to be about Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis all of the time. As you can imagine, no one really wants to talk about that 24/7. It is amazing to have people in your life who understand you on a different level than others but it is ten times better to have people in your life who not only fill that void but whom you can spend time doing things with that have absolutely nothing to do with illness.
Aside from the beginning of the day where we obviously asked how we were feeling, there was very little (if any) talk about IBD. We went apple picking which was kind of ironic given how apples are usually not high on the list of “approved” foods for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
After we couldn’t carry anymore apples, my friend wanted to make sure we were able to get to the store so we could pick up cider donuts and apple cider.
As many of you already know, Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis doesn’t affect everyone the same way. It would be dramatically easier for patients, doctors, and caregivers if it did. But, that is just one of a thousand reasons why IBD is such a physically, emotionally and socially difficult illness to live with.
I went apple picking with four other people; two with IBD. One of my friends wouldn’t entertain the idea of trying even a bite of an apple (understandably). The girl I have been referring to was feeling so good she seemed to have the mentality of why not enjoy life while I can, and I actually took bites of the different types of apples, chewed it really well and then spit it out so it never reached my intestines but I could still enjoy the flavor. I had apple cider on the way home since I knew it would run right through me (and it did). But it was good to have once…
I want to thank my friend, Deirdre, for everything she has shown me about life. She is an incredibly positive, upbeat person who (of course) gets down about the unfair hand she has been dealt but never lets her situation get in the way of the things she loves doing. She is very active in the IBD community, works tirelessly with rescue organizations to find good homes for abused/abandoned dogs, has a fulfilling career in the medical field, and is always there for others.
Last weekend was a great reminder for me about how important it is to be more than your disease. It is so important to cherish the times you are feeling well and surround yourself with good people and do enjoyable activities. It has been such a long time since I did anything that I would say was “normal” like apple picking! The plans weren’t my idea, but it was refreshing to come home and do something fall-esk, for lack of better wording.
I know many of you who are reading this don’t have the luxury of going out and doing the things I am saying here. I have been where you are where I couldn’t get out of the hospital. I have been stuck in bed with tubes in my stomach, where it was a huge ordeal if the remote was more than an arms’ length away from me. Point being, I understand that “having an upbeat attitude, going out and doing things” is something we ALL would love to be able to do every single day if our health allowed.
I just wanted to share my experiences about last weekend since I am also trying to relish the time when I feel well. Last weekend, I felt grateful to be able to be out and take part in something so many of us take for granted. When you are having a relatively good day, it is so good mentally to do fun things with loving, supportive people who care about you because it will make the days where IBD is controlling your body a little easier to handle. It helps to remember that there is a life outside of hospitals, doctors’ appointments, ERs, pharmacies and all of the medical things we get wrapped up in because IBD has the very real capability of consuming you.