I am about to make a bold statement here, but bear with me: being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease has actually improved my life for the better. No, I am not delusional. I am also not blind to my bad days or the tests results that come back not as optimal as I had hoped. It’s getting through these rough days that bring me to the conclusion that Crohn’s disease has some positive side effects. Here is how I came to this understanding.
The Bad Days Make Me Appreciate the Good
If you have a chronic illness or any kind of chronic pain, at some point you have probably dreamed about a life in which you don’t need to think about your condition every day.
For example, with Crohn’s disease I need to consider what food options will be available if I’m going to be out all day. I may need to carry snacks or even meals in a cooler bag. If I’m in a flare I’ll want to make sure there is a bathroom nearby. These things can be a drag sometimes, but they are necessary.
When I am feeling great and flare-free, the appreciation I have for my high energy and working digestion is overflowing. It sounds funny to be grateful for normal bowel movements, but it’s true! I don’t let the miracle of these healthy days get past me without being grateful and enjoying them.
I Am a Voice and Example to Help Others with Crohn’s Disease
You don’t need to be a blogger to make a difference, but that is where my energy funneled several years ago. Yearning for a way to connect with other people with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and especially those using nutrition to boost their health, I went online!
Over the years my blog readership has grown and I receive messages from people who are grateful to see my story as it is helping them or a family member. It doesn’t seem like I am doing much; I just share my story as I go. But every time I receive a message like that I realize that seeing me go through a situation whether it be a health challenge or a successful win, gives hope and inspiration to others on a similar journey.
There is power in being a step or two ahead of someone else and showing them the way. Even if you don’t have an online presence, you can support people through in-person or online support groups or find a way to mentor someone newly diagnosed with your condition through a hospital.
I am Constantly Learning
If I had never been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, my life and the lives of my close friends and family would be not have been enriched in some ways.
You see, after a short while of living with Crohn’s it was clear that the medications and diet advice were not working for my body. I could not maintain a baseline of health and rather kept slipping up and getting sicker and sicker until I landed myself back into the hospital. Thanks to my determined parents, we kept searching until we found more options.
That led us down a path of “alternative medicine.” This was my saving grace. A drastic diet change proved to be beneficial almost immediately. Eleven years later, I have developed not only a great interest in how food interacts in our bodies (which led to a new career for me) but I’ve gone even deeper into using non-toxic clean and personal care products and of course, sharing this information with my loved ones.
In this way, I feel I am much, much healthier than I was before my diagnosis when I ate a lot of junk!
When new research comes out about gut health, environmental factors involved in disease, genetic predispositions, etc., you can bet I am all over it! Educating myself makes me feel empowered. When I am empowered I am in control of how I deal with my health and I can make educated decisions. I never had an interested in health or disease before my diagnosis. I see this as a blessing to communicate the amazing findings being published every day!
I won’t deny that chronic illness doesn’t bring challenges. There is pain, medical appointments and expenses, and sometimes limitations to how we live our lives. But, I believe there is something good to be gleaned from any situation. With chronic illnesses being a major part of our lives, I think there is a great opportunity to use it in a positive way.
Whether you share your story with others, go into research, be an advocate, or simply be a good example of how to be grateful in tough times, we can all use our chronic illness in a positive way.
Can you think of one way your chronic illness has resulted in a positive side effect? Share with us below and let’s inspire each other!
Alexa Federico is the owner behind Girl in Healing, a blog focused on a real food approach and intentional lifestyle to thrive with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. She has an online practice as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner to coach others to use nutrition to be well. She loves books, podcasts, walking outside, and warm sunny days.
One Reply to “Positive Side Effects of Crohn’s Disease”
I have never met another person who chose to look at the good side of Crohn’s Disease before. Everyday I wake up and I chose to let my Crohn’s Disease be good. I also have good and bad days, and just like you the bad days make me appreciate the good days. Because I appreciate the good days it makes me happier and more optimistic. When people ask me about my illness I get excited to educate them and give them a positive twist on it. When I hear negative comments I chose to turn it around. Crohn’s has made me have to be healthier, in tune with my body, and make healthier choices.