As my graduation approaches I am overwhelmed with thoughts about the events of the last three years. Many times people speak of regrets that they have. They mention bad relationships they “should have” avoided or missed opportunities that have affected their lives in damaging ways.
I don’t believe in regrets. I believe that everything that has happened in my life; every mistake I have made, every dumb choice, every opportunity I have missed, has happened to make me the person I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always love the person I am, but I don’t ever hate who I am. Regretting things I have done undermines the person I am and the lessons I have learned.
However, I had the thought lately, “Who, what and where would I be if I didn't have Crohn’s Disease?”
Who would I be? Would I have graduated sooner? Would I still be single? Would I have better self-image?
What would I be? Would I be a good person? Would I have as much empathy as I do?
Where would I be? Would I still be living in my parent’s house? Would I have moved somewhere totally new?
Having Crohn’s Disease and an ileostomy has shaped my life. It has impacted me both positively and negatively. It has held me back for sure. Finishing school had to be done at a slower pace. I missed so much work that I was eventually replaced.
It has also given me a new perspective. I now know what it is like to be faced with death. I know what it is like to have a disease that has embarrassing symptoms. I know what it’s like to have my body rip itself apart and have to be cut open and my insides rerouted. These things have shaped my thinking. They have given me the chance to make new friends and to help an entire community to educate the masses. I have gained a family by losing an organ. I have gained my life back.