A journalist recently asked me, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years, Tina?” It was a mind-boggling question; I could barely wrap my head around the chronicity of my illnesses forget about thinking so far ahead into the future. The truth is I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, sickness or health, and I’m not so sure I want to even think about it. Sure, the future appears bright with many new medications and research in the pipeline to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But one thing I’ve come to learn in all the ebbs and flows of living with IBD is that I need to live for today and to help others do the same.
The reality is we can be fine today and in the hospital tomorrow. We can appear well on the outside and be fighting battles no one knows about on the inside. And that’s just the nature of being young while being chronically and invisibly ill. So why focus on the potentials for what could happen when we can live in the moment and celebrate the days when we aren’t in the hospital and when we aren’t in bed all day? Why not live for the now and leave the future where it belongs, in the future?
Sure, it’s natural to worry about our health and often necessary to plan ahead for how we manage our conditions throughout the New Year. But the ups and downs of chronic illness are often unpredictable and require finesse to manage. Many times we have to roll with the punches and do our level best to stay afloat if our diseases decide to rear their ugly head at inopportune moments.
That said, I may not know what 2019 will bring but I do know that I can reflect back on 2018 and express my gratitude while hoping for a healthy New Year. I’m thankful for being able to share my story and for having received such kind and loving responses to it. I can only hope to continue my advocacy work in 2019 and with it, create greater awareness for life-saving ostomy surgery and chronic illnesses, including Crohn’s & ulcerative colitis. All I know is that I’m thankful for today, for the opportunity at life again and to now give back to a community that has given me so much.
In the spirit of gratitude and giving back, I welcome you all to join me today in this New Year to create greater support and awareness for all chronic conditions. We may not know what the future holds, but we can do our level best to create a brighter, better world for the newly diagnosed and the to-be-diagnosed. This New Year let’s push forward until handicapped signs and disabled toilets carry an able-bodied image. Let’s push forward until there are equal rights and health insurance for all. Let’s push forward until we are seen and heard by our government, society and corporations. And let’s push forward ultimately for better quality of life, one filled with greater acceptance for all of us, able-bodied or not.
This New Year I wish you all nothing but peace, joy and amazing health. Celebrate all the wonderful aspects of your lives in between bedrest, doctors’ visits and hospital stays. Live, love and dance through all the beauty you can embrace in 2019. Because you deserve to now more than ever.
So, own your Crohn’s, own your chronic illness, own every moment that brings you joy, and rise to meet the best version of yourselves this New Year!
~Love, light & peace always ~