I’m almost a month into my new job and I don’t think I can say enough how much I really do enjoy it.
I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the staff that is on my floor.
“Hi, my name is Brooke, I graduated from Otterbein with a degree in public relations, outside of work, I have a magazine for people who suffer with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, so if you or someone you know has IBD, feel free to come talk to me.”
–Laughing from an individual standing behind me asking me the questions.—
I was so taken aback from someone laughing at what I just had to say. Laughing at someone who has suffered with colitis, almost lost their life and is trying to help those that are still suffering. Not only that, but I’m sure there are other people in this office that suffer with IBD.
People who laugh, are EXACTLY the reason why those who suffer in silence are so embarrassed to come forward. And because of this individual, that one person I could have helped by saying that, which was my intention, probably won’t come forward.
I am especially sensitive about IBD today, because a brave young woman just passed of Crohn’s Disease and reading her story and watching a video of her parents crying, losing their home AND their daughter struck a very strong chord with me this morning.
It took me back to this time last year, when I was at my sickest. I watched this young woman lying in bed, hooked up to IV’s and monitors, like I was last year. For the first time I saw what my family must have, looking at someone with so much life yet to live slowly losing a battle with their own body. I felt what that pain must have felt like, how heartbreaking and utterly saddening.
In the same sense that I felt I could understand her parents hurt, I felt her hurt as well. I know what it feels like to lay in that bed. To only have enough energy to lay and down and try to stay alive.
At this time last year, it hurt me to even breathe. I used to have to lay in my bed, always in the fetal position, with my TPN running in my picc line and monitors beeping. Not knowing what the next day, hour or even minute would bring. When the pain would return, the dreadful thought of having to be awake in the morning because of how painful it was to even be awake. Running to the bathroom 70+ times a day, starving and not being able to eat, throwing up even water, watching everyone around me run, laugh, eat… live.
Then the devastating news of having to have an ostomy, 3 major operations with 3 major recoveries, and having to get used to 3 different lifestyles. Sick, surgery, ostomy, surgery another ostomy, surgery jpouch. With all the complications and hospital stays, pain and suffering in between.
I don’t know about all of you, but none of that sounds too funny to me. Laughing at someone with bowel disease, any kind of disease is so wrong in so many ways I can’t even find words to describe it. In the moment when they laughed, I felt embarrassed of my cause and my disease for the first time in my life.
That goes for anyone, with any condition or disease, at any age. I don’t care if you’re 7 or 55. You should know better than to laugh at other people’s misfortune or suffering. Bullying is such a huge topic these days and though I was not bullied in any way, shape or form, there are kids out there with IBD who ARE getting bullied for their condition. For going to the bathroom so much, for not being able to hang out with their friends.
The lesson learned in all of this is to never cut other people down for what they have experienced, but instead learn from them. Take what they have gone through and apply it to your life, try to walk in their shoes.
Which brings me to the important part of the day, remembering 2 heroes who lost their battles with their diseases this week.
The first being this strong, beautiful woman who is a perfect example of why it is important to spread awareness about how serious Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis really are. Just because many people with these diseases don’t look sick, doesn’t mean they are not. Alexandria Davidson passed away from complications with her Crohn’s Disease and her powerful, moving story of determination should be a reminder to us all how blessed we are to be able to have jpouches, ostomies, surgeries, take medications, practice certain health precautions all to keep our symptoms from taking our lives.
It is easy to complain or to wallow in the negativity that may surround a diagnosis or treatment option, but it is so crucial to think about others, who may not be as fortunate as you to feel the pain of surgery or the nausea from medications all completed or provided to you so that you and your doctors know with certainty it will improve your life.
Instead of thinking, “why me?” We instead, should ask, “How can I help improve the lives of others who may not be as fortunate as I am?”
No matter what your health status, let us all learn and grow from Alex’s story. You can read about her mission here:
And learn more about how you can help her strong parents here:
I’m sure many of you have also heard Stephen’s story, a young man diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, who, instead of spending his final days being afraid or angry, chose to help raise money in every way that he could to help others suffering with cancer. His blog and social media sites were the most inspiring things I have ever read. When you have a second, please take a look at his websites and try to find a way that you can donate your time or a gift of any kind to his cause, even if it’s just passing his message along. You can read Stephen’s story here:
Never, ever be embarrassed or ashamed of yourself for anything. When you find a cause that is important to you, never let anyone stop you from shouting it from the highest point you can find. The best thing we can do as human beings is help each other and lift each other up. I am so incredibly proud of every single person that has shared their story with Companion Magazine, who writes blogs, shares their struggle over social media, or even just tells their friends.
You are not alone. Ever.