Crohn’s This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 3, 2012
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A year ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I felt like my world ended that day. I became a new person, born out of circumstance I had never imagined in my life. Crohn's disease is not sexy, or inspiring. It's simply an unfortunate manifestation of the wrong combination of genetics, of exposure to cigarette smoke, of your body simply deciding to attack itself.

And it's mine.

I have many regrets – things I should have done as the disease tore me down. I should have accepted it earlier. I should have said to myself, I have to deal with this, and make it mine, but instead I denied it. This denial made me sink lower, and lower, until I ended up in the hospital, at just 79 pounds (which would drop further in the days that followed) and struggling to breathe.

They saved my life, those guardian angels disguised as doctors and nurses. They gave me an ileostomy bag, which I love now but devastated me at first. I threw myself a two-month pity party. I hated my life.

One day I went back to visit the hospital where I had spent all those days hooked up to an oxygen machine, watching little children play and enjoy themselves, even on the brink of death. I watched the older patients struggle as their long and happy lives ended in sickness and dismay. I watched as adults with promise said good-bye and teenagers with hopes waved farewell.

In one simple stroke of gratification, I figured something out.

It doesn't matter that I have had ten surgeries and have missed some typical teenage experiences. It doesn't matter that I have a bag hanging off of me and a disease for life. I went home. I will keep on living. In a hospital, surrounded by death, I learned to be grateful for the life I have, the second chance I have been granted. I went home, I am alive, and I will make a million more memories that I wish I could give to the those whom death took too early. However, I no longer spend my time wishing.

Now I spend it living.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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