Sick of Being Sick : Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Bowels

Sick of Being Sick

 

Today I have a treat for you from one of my best friends, Eliot Dreiband.  Eliot and I met over 11 years ago at a camp for kids with Crohn’s and Colitis.  We spent each summer together at camp growing up and I’ve been fortunate enough to have her in my life since then.  Even when we’ve gone long stretches without seeing one another, or talking to each other, it has always been one of those rare friendships where she just “gets” me.  And boy does she get my struggle with my illness.

When I asked her to write a little something for my blog, I knew she’d write something beautiful. She’s always had a way with words, but what she wrote rocked me to my core. I couldn’t be more proud of the woman she’s become and more thankful that she’s allowed me to share this essay with you.

 


Sick of Being Sick : Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Bowels

By Eliot Dreiband

 

When I sat down to write this essay I originally had this funny image in my

head: I am standing at a podium in a nondescript school auditorium facing three

rows of blurred faces seated in folding chairs.

“Hi, I’m Eliot and I have Crohn’s Disease,” I say to the faces.

 

“Hi, Eliot,” echoes back at me.

 

“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was twelve years old. It

is an incurable, autoimmune disease that affects your gastrointestinal tract……

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at age nineteen. Fibromyalgia is a disorder

characterized by widespread muscle pain and fatigue. I have…”

 

I am almost monotone in my description of my incurable genetic illness. It’s

come to the point now where I’m almost sick of talking about Crohn’s disease. This

clingy, needy, temper tantrum-ridden gollum has attached itself to my body for

over half of my life now and I’m a little sick of it. But I have to talk about it. Crohn’s

Disease is something I deal with continuously and it’s clawed its way into all aspects

of my life.

 

From the basics: my saying no to those delicious-looking chili cheese fries

(“Your recipe has beans? Can’t. Thanks anyways!”). To the routine: scheduling

treatments, doctor’s appointments, and prescription refills like an octogenarian.

Only you’re twenty-four and have no idea how health insurance actually works.

To the embarrassing: Going home sick from work because you can’t stop feeling

nauseous (for no known reason) and you don’t want to throw up in front a client

(this almost happened…twice).

 

Now add Crohn’s to dealing with insurance companies, job decisions,

traveling plans, relationships, etc. Oh and add two other diseases, because these

auto-immune illnesses tend to be systemic. See? It goes on and on. You’d get sick of

talking about it too. But I have had this illness now for over half my life, it is second

nature and has influenced too much of me.

 

One of the reasons I’m sick of talking about my illness is because it’s really

important to me not to complain about too much about myself. Everybody’s got

something. So by all means complain a little. But no one person can claim all the

world’s suffering and there are a hell of a lot of people who have things worse

off than me. I try to save my breath for more interesting conversations than my

illnesses.

 

But I also like to think that I’m that getting sick of talking about my diseases

because I no longer define myself by them. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease

as a pre-teen, a veritable identity-molding age. I had blood tests, doctors, and

insurance companies telling me that I was unhealthy and abnormal and then I had

to turn around and relay that information to my friends and teachers to explain my

absences and symptoms. Needless to say, it led to a lot of conflicted feelings about

my identity, my weaknesses, and my strengths. And oh boy, do I have the teenage,

angsty journal entries to prove it.

 

I have spent a lot of time and energy making sure that people do not view

me as vulnerable because of my illness. At 5’3” I am already aware of my stature

limitations, but I don’t like the idea of that people assume less of me because of

the cards I was dealt. What might be intended as sympathy can come off as pity.

But therein lies the rub. Having a disease does make things in life harder. It can be

painful, exhausting, frustrating, and embarrassing. A disease is a stressor both to

the inflicted and those around her. I hate that I have been such a financial burden to

my parents, though they would not think twice about it. And I can’t even count the

number of times I’ve had to cancel or postpone plans with friends because of sudden

symptoms. A good excuse or not, my disease’s negative repercussions don’t make

me feel stronger as an individual.

 

So what does make me feel positive about my illness? I like to think it had a

pretty big effect on how I choose to live my life and interact with people. Rebecca

and I first met at a camp for children with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative

Colitis. We were thirteen, newly diagnosed, and terrified. But being around other

children with these illnesses alleviated my anxieties and let me just relax, have fun,

and be a kid. I returned every summer to the Painted Turtle Camp until I was old

enough to volunteer – and I still volunteer with them to this day. The Painted Turtle

Camp’s mentality and values alongside my experience dealing with an illness have

made me a more empathetic and socially motivated person. In college I changed my

major to Human Development and Human Rights and in the future I’d like to work

in the social justice sector. I’m even leaving in a few weeks to go volunteer in Buenos

Aires, Argentina for three months with a children’s rights organization.

 

I guess that’s when you know that you have wonderful friends and family -

when they can joke about your incurable illness without making you feel like less of

a person. The gollum-esque creature I like to think of as my negative symptoms is

my friend’s interpretation of my disease. She talks about Crohn’s Disease with

absurdly anthropomorphic phrasing. According to her my “immune system hates

me and therefore has declared a mutiny” on my bowels. My brother has mentioned

my “pill popping habits” loudly when I pull out my medications with breakfast in

public. Having an illness can get a little too serious. I’m glad I have people to help me

bring a little levity and laughter to the matter.

 

Nelson Mandela said that, “it all seems impossible until it is done.” Now, I’m

almost 100% positive that Nelson Mandela didn’t have Crohn’s Disease, but lucky

for me his message still applies. Having Crohn’s Disease and Fibromyalgia is a pain,

quite literally. But I try to give myself a break while still moving forward. Having

wonderful people in my life who inspire and love me keeps me positive, happy, and

healthy. They not only remind me to take my pills and avoid popcorn, but that I am

human and allowed to be a little vulnerable.


Lastly, I leave you with this picture of Eliot and I from camp circa 2006.  I have to say that if one thing makes me feel positive when it comes to my disease, it’s in the incredible gratitude I feel for the people that it’s brought in to my life and the way they inspire me to be a better, stronger person.

197547_1002997309326_8541_n

 

Meet Sarah Christine From SarahChristineStyle

SarahChristinineStyle

Today I’d like you to meet Sarah Christine from SarahChristineStyle.  Sarah is someone I really admire.  She is career-driven, smart, stylish, and has a great outlook on life.  She has a motto that I love, which is, “Be Your Best Version.”  She is inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves without trying to be someone that they are not.  Sarah is so true to herself that it motivates me to want to be as authentic as a I can be.

I asked Sarah a few questions so that you can get to know her better.

Q: What would you name your autobiography?

A: I can already tell these are going to be challenging questions. I’m going to go with “Becoming My Best Version” or something similar to that. “Be the Best Version of you” is my life motto and becoming my best version is something I am constantly working towards. I talked a little bit more about what that quote means to me in this post.

Q:  What’s one thing you really want to learn?

A: A better question is what is one thing I don’t want to learn, because my dreams are bigger than time and reality allows, but my short list right now is: relearn the piano, learn how to use photoshop and illustrator better, learn more about photography, and learn more about marketing and why people do what they do.

Q:  If you were to get famous on a contest/reality show, which one would it be?

A: Well I can’t sing to save my life so that knocks out like half of them already. I also can’t dance, cook, answer random trivia, or maneuver difficult obstacles well enough to make a name for myself on any of those shows either. So now that we’ve knocked them all off I’m going with either Big Brother or The Bachelor/Bachelorette (I know I’m already in a relationship, but he’s cool with my dream to be The Bachelorette so it’s all good).

SarahChristineStyle (2)

Q: What’s the absolute best vacation you’ve been on?

A: Our recent trip to Europe was easily my best vacation. We spent a few days exploring Rome and then got on a cruise ship and went to Tuscany, Cannes, Palma Majorca, Barcelona, and Naples. It was the perfect mix of gorgeous scenery, lots of history, fun adventures, great photography opportunities, amazing food, fun shows on the cruise, and quality time with Bryan. I couldn’t dream up a better vacation, even the two week length was the perfect amount of time to see a lot and relax, but be ready to come back home at the end of it

Q: If you had to sing at Karaoke what song would you choose?

A: Something by Avril Lavigne. The last time I was at Karaoke was in South Korea 3 years ago and I sang Complicated. I have always had a special place in my life for Avril Lavigne and some of her earlier songs make great Karaoke songs.

Q:  What is the one food that you would never give up?

A: This is an interesting question since I recently had to give up all gluten and dairy from my diet. Before then my absolute favorite thing to eat was a Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap from Red Robin, and although I can’t say that anymore since it has gluten and dairy in it, I’m going to go with my new gluten and diary free version of it. I skipped out on the ranch dressing, replaced the cheese with some Daiya cheese, and used a gluten free wrap instead of the spinach wraps they use, and it was just as delicious!

Q: Why did you start SarahChristineStyle?

A: SarahChristineStyle has had quite the journey over the years, it all started when I was living by myself in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho for a summer internship and had more free time than I knew what to do with. During that time I started watching YouTube videos and following a lot of Beauty Guru’s. After telling Bryan about how much I enjoyed watching them and had even filmed (and quickly deleted) a few videos of my own he encouraged me to make my own channel and SarahChristineStyle was born as a YouTube channel. Shortly after that I discovered the blogging community and created my blog as well. I went back and forth for quite awhile on whether or not I wanted YouTube or blogging to be my main focus, but eventually I realized I had fallen way more in love with blogging and somewhere around September 2013 I decided to delete my YouTube channel and focus on blogging only. It was the best decision I ever made, the blogging community is amazing!

Q: What do you hope people take away from reading SarahChristineStyle?

A: Something useful. I try my best to share things that I have learned in life, experiences I have been through, reviews of products that I have been loving, and outfit inspiration. I hope that my readers will find something useful for their lives, that they will be able to learn from my experiences or find a new favorite product. And if people take nothing else useful away from my blog, I hope they at least take away the knowledge that they can do whatever is the best for them if they just put their mind to it.

SarahChristineStyle

Head over to Sarah’s blog, and while you there be sure to check out one of my favorite posts, “Be Yourself.”  I think you will really enjoy reading it.

What To Do When You’re In The Mood For A New Dress

 

In The Mood For A New Dress? Eshatki

*Disclaimer: I received this dress free from eShakti in exchange for this blog post.  However, all opinions are my own.
 

Hello All!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

I know I had a fabulous weekend.  So many of you cool people signed up for my Finally Friday! Club  Newsletter, and that really made my day.  So much that I was in the mood for a new dress.

Do you ever feel that way?  Like life has so many blessings that you just want to get dressed up to celebrate?  If you’re anything like me, you love a good excuse to go out and buy a new dress.  Thankfully, after you all made my day on Friday, I received this gorgeous dress in the mail from eShakti.

What’s eShakti you ask?

eShakti is a woman’s clothing company that makes custom clothes for size 0-36W.  Each item is made to your measurements.  Or you can chose a pre-set size based on a size chart.  Then every item is customizable.  Do you want sleeves? No sleeves?  Long skirt? Short skirt?  Do you want the embellishments removed on the design?  It can all be done and I LOVE it.

I was a little nervous about taking my measurements and ordering a dress online.  Surely, I was going to get it in the mail, and I was going to have measured myself horribly wrong. But the dress fits perfectly!  The fabric is of good quality and the dress as a whole seems to be made really well.  I am so happy with it!

In The Mood For A New Dress? Eshatki 2

eShakti has such a large selection of dresses and they were all so cute that I had a hard time deciding what to order. I really think it would be a great option for bridesmaids dresses even.  Each girl could order the dress to fit her measurements and not have to have alterations like most dresses at bridal shops require.  The prices of the dresses are a bit less than a lot of bridal shops, the dress came in faster, and the quality was as good if not better than dresses I have ordered for weddings.

If ever you’re in the mood for a new dress, have a wedding to go to, a wedding to be in, or just want a nice dress for a night out, I highly recommend eShakti.

Visit Them Here: Facebook : Twitter: Website

And thank you again to those of you that signed up for my newsletter on Friday.  It will be going out again this Friday and I may contain a surprise for you in the form of of some seriously awkward outtakes from this photo-shoot.

If you haven’t signed up yet, you can still do so here or on the side of my blog.

The Finally Friday! Club

Join the Finally Friday! ClubHave you ever wanted to be in a super exclusive club that all the cool kids are a part of?  Well, today you’re in luck!

Ok…it’s not that exclusive because anyone can sign up in my sidebar but… you are going to be getting exclusive content that isn’t going to be anywhere else on my blog.  And you will be in the club with the cool kids, because my readers are the coolest people I know!

Lately I’ve been thinking that everywhere I turn there is more bad news online and on the TV.  I get that the world is full of heartbreak, but sometimes we all need a little dose of happiness and joy.  That’s why I’ve created the Finally Friday! Club.  Each Friday you’ll receive an email from me full of videos, pictures, and stories that made me laugh or smile throughout the week.  You’ll also receive all the latest news on my blog before it’s posted anywhere else, and you’ll have access to exclusive giveaways and promo-codes.

I always love when one of my good friends sends me a random email or text with a funny story or article that they saw that made them think of me. Every Friday you can expect that from me if you’re part of the Finally Friday! Club.  I’ve been thinking about you all week and everything you have possibly been going through, and I just want to bring a little joy to your Fridays.

You can sign up below or on the side of my blog.  And if you sign up today before 5:00 pm Central Time, you will get the first email that’s going out today!

Thank you for being one of the cool kids!

Join the Finally Friday! Club

* indicates required



 

 

Meet Emma Chapple From My Beautiful Messy Life

Emma Chapple (2)

Today I’d like to introduce you to  Emma Chapple from My Beautiful Messy Life.  Emma is a journalism student who openly shares her life with Crohn’s Disease and an ileostomy.  I am so inspired by the way Emma has used her blog to change the perception on the way life looks with a chronic illness.  She writes about beauty, fitness, and food all while providing encouragement to others who may be struggling with IBD or an illness in general.

I asked Emma some fun and serious questions so that you can get to know her better.

Q: If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

A: Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl – but only Blair from the TV show! I like
her character way better there than I ever did in the books. Not to mention
the major style envy.

Q: What was the last experience that made you a stronger person?

A: Admitting that I needed help last summer. There were a lot of things that I
had been through that I still wasn’t “over.” Making the call to see a therapist
helped me accept things that had happened to me, and work to mend some
relationships I had damaged.

Q: What movie deserves a sequel?

A: Sequels are rarely as good as the original, but a movie that practically
demands one is The Incredibles. I actually think there’s a sequel in the
works now (at least I hope there is)!

Q: What is one thing you always wanted as a kid, but never got?

A: When I was in middle school, I wanted my parents to take me to New York
so I could see RENT on Broadway. I still haven’t been to NYC, but I got to
see RENT’s last show when it played in the cinema!

Q: What’s the best decision you ever made?

A: Going to school away from home. Even though I’ve second-guessed the
decision many times, it really has taught me to be more independent. I can’t
just drop everything and go home when something’s wrong. I have to take
control of my life and my health now – it’s not always fun, but it’s definitely
rewarding.

Q: What was your favorite holiday?

A: Christmas! More specifically, Christmas at Disney World.

Q: Why did you start your blog?

A: At first it was because I knew that as a journalism student, I more or
less needed one, so I could have a tangible example of my work. My
heart definitely wasn’t in it at first. But the more views and encouraging
comments I got, the more dedicated I became. Now I can’t imagine not
having a blog!

Q: What do you hope people take away from reading you blog?

A: I hope that people know that there’s more to life than being sick. I have an
ileostomy, but you’ll never see a picture of it on my blog, because it doesn’t
define me. If you don’t have a chronic illness, I want to help you learn more
about it. If you do, I want to show you that it’s possible to live a fun, stylish
and curated life.

Emma Chapple

Go visit Emma’s blog My Beautiful Messy Life and tell her hello from me.  I know you’re going to love her posts and will be encouraged by her authenticity.