How Crohn’s Disease Has Helped Me Better Understand Myself

I’ll always remember the first time I heard of Crohn’s Disease; it’s pretty ironic actually. I overheard my cousin talking about it because one of his mates had it, and I remembered thinking, all naively, ‘Ha — wouldn’t that be funny if I had Crohn’s disease because my surname is Crome, which sounds freakishly similar.’ Well, here’s a message for you all: don’t jinx your health!

It all started back in 2014. I was only 14, and we’d gone on a family trip to Rome. I just remember experiencing a lot of gas (which caused many giggles at the time) and needing to go to the toilet a bit more than usual, but it was nothing crazy or anything too much out of the ordinary. The family and I just put it down to flying, or a possible gluten intolerance, as I was eating a lot of pizza and pasta in Italy’s capital! Spoiler alert – flying and I still don’t get on, which is a bit of a pain when you love to travel, and I did later down the line also get diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. From this point on, it kind of all went downhill. It was a long, hard 2 years of trying to get a diagnosis. I was losing a fair bit of weight, exhausted a lot of the time, going to the toilet around 25-30 times a day, and most of it being blood (it took me a while to work up the courage to first tell someone I saw blood in my poo because as a 14-year-old, I just thought I had cancer).

It took a very long time for a professional to take me seriously; over those two years, I was passed from pillar to post, told it was ‘all in my head,’ to ‘man up, you’re just being a woman,’ ‘are you sure it’s not just your period?’ and all sorts of comments like that. When I finally got my diagnosis, I think I cried with just pure relief. Knowing it wasn’t all in my head was the best feeling, and although I was now faced with a whole new life ahead of me and a chronic condition, part of me was slightly happy that I knew what was causing this.

Over the course of the next 3 years, I had a long battle of trying to sort my health out. I was luckily put on a new drug, which was a monthly infusion, and that managed to calm the Crohn’s. It was then that I realised no one’s going to be able to wave a magic wand and make it all disappear, so this is when I had to really put in the hard work. Without the help of my family, friends, work, climbing, and the outdoors, I couldn’t have made it this far, and I will never be able to thank them enough for being there every step of the way.

It took me a couple of years to get to a healthy weight and start fixing things, but during this time, I was able to actually start living again. I was finally starting to see my spark come back and the reasons for living, and it felt amazing. It’s an addictive thing, learning to love again; as much as my brain was hating it, I was loving it. It felt like I was a toddler exploring the world for the very first time again! I am now planning to travel through France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, and I hope to climb & surf my way down. I managed to do a few solo trips earlier this year, which I never thought I’d have the courage to do, including a climbing trip to Morocco and Spain – both bucket list moments! During my recovery, I found climbing and became quickly attached; I can safely say climbing was a massive part of what helped me. It made me feel again!

This takes us to today; I’m now 24 and let me tell you it’s been a journey, but one I wouldn’t change. It’s made me become the person I am today; I’ve learned so much about myself and the world throughout my journey, and it’s allowed me to grow as a person.

Remember for those going through it, or struggling with similar – IT DOES GET BETTER, like me, you may think it won’t, but trust me it does. Hang in there and don’t let go of hope. Keep fighting and don’t let Crohn’s disease define you! You know your body so trust your gut. The world has so much to offer, and so do you; you mean a lot to this world remember that. My messages are always open, and I’ll always be an ear to listen.

Crohn’s may be a pain in the ass, but it’s my pain in the ass! (Pun intended!)

All my love,

Matilda



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