Tonight I’m feeling 22: or, Not Just Another Birthday Post

It doesn’t seem like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our ex’s, so no points for Taylor Swift when it comes to describing feeling 22. The future does look bright, however, so Lily Allen wins this round.

OK, so it’s a terribly depressing song beyond that, but the important factor here is that it wasn’t written by T-Swift.

And it’s also pretty ironic, after the news I just received, that I’m quick to say the future looks bright. Call it my cockeyed optimism talking; I haven’t found a job, I’m not entirely through the mourning process of not going back to college, I’m still single and my immune system is eating my organs.

If that last one made you think, “That’s a new one,” don’t worry: it’s a new one to me, too.

Two days ago I was diagnosed with a chronic immune disorder, Crohns Disease. Now before you drag air through your teeth in that “Ooh, I hope she’s OK, but I hope she doesn’t give any of the gory details, because I rather not lose my lunch all over my keyboard,” I’ll tell you that no, I’m not sharing all the gory details. That’s mostly because I don’t have all the details, but also because I rather not turn what’s supposed to be a professional blog about being a 21st century journalist in search for a career into the medical update portion of Aunt Sally’s Christmas letter.

What’s happening is simple: those debilitating stomachaches I’ve been having since October aren’t exactly stress-based. Instead, they’re the bi-product of my immune system attacking my digestive system. (Yep, even my anti-bodies are overachievers.) The treatment starts with taking a Vitamin D bomb every week to get my energy level back up. After another series of tests, I’ll go in weekly (at first) for an IV drip of medication.

Just call me Walter White, but without the cancer, nagging wife and drug empire.
Just call me Walter White, but without the cancer, breakfast-obsessed son and drug empire.

We’ll start off going on a weekly basis and slowly wean me off of the medication. There aren’t supposed to be very many side effects to the treatment, so I won’t be going stark-raving mad(der) or growing a third limb — god-willing. I’m not going to lie: every time they hook me up to the bag, I’m going to pretend I’m being connected up to The Matrix.

Hopefully Cypher won't be the one driving.
I would promise to do it with more emotion than Keanu Reeves, but that’s not saying much.

If I sound flippant about the situation, that’s because I’m using humor and nerd-aphors (my new term for nerdy metaphors) to help me get through the fear. Crohns is not a stranger in my house; my dad has it and has been in remission for 15 years. The disease is hereditary, so it was only a matter of time before either my sister or I were diagnosed. Seeing as Bee already has an effed-up immune system that likes to fatally freak out if a peanut gets in her system, I’m OK with having this slight setback.

I’m not writing this entry to see how many people ask me if I’m doing all right; in fact, I’m writing for just the opposite. Crohns affects a lot of people between the ages 18 and 23, but many times they chalk it up (like I did) to stress or the crummy college-kid diet of pizza and beer. Part of why I want people to know I have Crohns is so they know it’s possible to have something and live with it for a while; it may not be cancer, but it’s still a pretty serious ailment. Don’t believe me? Ask my dad, who went untreated for almost 12 years before having to go through two surgeries to fix it.

As much as I’d like to be disease-free, I also know that this addition to my health profile is going to give me a new perspective. Bee says her allergy isn’t solely what made her the way she is, but has had an affect on her personality. I may have just turned 22, but I’m still developing who I am, and it will be interesting to see how this sickness plays a role in that.

In the meantime, let’s go dress up like ourselves, make fun of Taylor Swift and stare into the blinding future.

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One Comment

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  1. Congratulations on having your very own chronic condition! You have a certified medical excuse for when you don’t want to do something. As special as you may feel, now you’re like the rest of us with a malady that won’t go away. We live with it. It’s what is. Sometimes we “can’t,” sometimes we “can.” The world is still beautiful. Life is still grand. We still love and we are loved. What more is there?
    P.S. Love your prose!

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