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Tonight is lots of pain. I forget about the pain. I complain about the mood swings and the jitteriness and sometimes the subtle twinge that sits just above my left hipbone. But I manage to forget what happens when the disease really gets rolling. It has been squatting just below my stomach, it feels like, making everything tender if I try to stand up. Then there’s actual cramps, distracting bolts of pain that are followed by a gurgling and momentary relief that leaves me almost lightheaded. Still can’t get up and walk around though. I mean, I can. But it actually hurts, and that’s what I forget.

Earlier I could feel a hint of it while I was at the nat, exercising. I should have stopped, maybe, and gone to take a break. Never mind about getting through the day efficiently. Crohn’s breaks down the partitioning that society loves so much, so it doesn’t matter whether this particular hour has a lecture you’re supposed to attend, or if you would prefer to walk back home for lunch. You can’t. You could, but you’ll pay the price when you upset your balance.

I did it by staying up too late last night. I only got five hours of sleep. I have trouble gauging my sleep needs. Prednisone sometimes wakes me up an hour early and I have boundless energy all day. It has a steep price, though. The next day will pay, or the next week. I wonder how much of today’s pain could have been avoided.

And how do we avoid the pain? It’s odd, but it takes a lot of self-indulgence. I somehow grew up believing that you’re only a good person if you push yourself hard. It’s an attitude common enough among my colleagues, even with the improved awareness of how emotional well-being plays into health. Now I’m learning a lot about how to indulge responsibly…I feel bad when I talk to colleagues and hear how much harder they’re working than me, but I’m learning to recognize which of those differences are due to the fact they are not sick. Until we know a heck of a lot more about immune systems and can cure this, I’m always going to have this illness.

I will have times of health, I have had quite a lot of good health recently, actually, but it’s a far more tenuous state of being for me. As nights like tonight remind me. I am caught between health and sickness. Even tonight, I am very aware of where I am on that spectrum. The stomach pain is wrecking my evening and my ability to study.

But I’m waiting it out, and what am I worried about?

That I’ll throw up. If I throw up, that means I have to go to a hospital so they can make sure it’s only my troublesome guts and not an indignant pancreas having a meltdown. Until then, I’m just in pain, but it’s temporary. It’s manageable. It’s not scary.*

Oh, another wave of pain. I sometimes compare Crohn’s to having a constant case of food poisoning. That’s what it feels like—like you must have eaten something wrong, and you just have to wait for it to work itself out of your system. I feel suspicious of carrots today. I had been avoiding carrots, and then a few days ago I decided to try steaming them. Oh, delicious! I had missed them so much. But I finished off, like, a cup of them today, and now I’m wondering if that was too much. I haven’t had stomach pain like this since I ill-advisedly had coleslaw this summer.

I would rather blame the carrots than say that my medications aren’t working. I would rather believe there was a preventable element. This is the other weird thing with Crohn’s, is that it just seems like there should be a perfect combination of meds, foods, and lifestyle that cures you completely.

Tonight I would settle for the stomach settling down enough I could get sleep.* That’s another belief—that with enough sleep, it will fix itself. Not perfectly, but enough.

*It's incredibly nice having another person around at times like these. Just in case anything happens, someone else will know, and that takes away a lot of the worry.

June 2014

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