Hi! My name is Mary and I am 19 years old. I am currently in nursing school. I was diagnosed with Crohn's in 2018. One interesting thing about me is that I have 3 nephews and a niece!

One of my greatest struggles with my chronic illness is the changes it has made in my life. From the time when I first got sick until my diagnosis and the months following, it felt as though life as I knew it was swept out from under me. My life went from one full of school, dance lessons, hanging out with friends, spending time with family and generally being busy with activity to one full of appointments, blood draws, medications and pain. I had to not only accept these changes but also accept what chronic illness truly is - something I will live with for the rest of my life.

To overcome this struggle, I tried to focus on the things I still could do, the ways this illness could be turned into something positive and how I could accept my diagnosis. Even though I missed a lot of school in the months right after my diagnosis, one thing I still could do is be with people. During this time, I was blessed to spend more time with my family. Although we all wish it wasn’t extra time because of sickness it was still time we had together. This is something I have valued and carried with me even as I started to regain my health.  

Knowing I wanted to go into the medical field, a positive from this illness was being able to see my time in the hospital as an opportunity to gain insight into what patients I may encounter in the future will be going through. Having many different nurses, among other practitioners, I got to experience firsthand the wonderful qualities of nurses that I hope to bring to my future practice. 

When struggling with my own acceptance of Crohn’s, I initially had trouble sharing with other people what my disease was and more so how it made me feel. However, now I am able to talk openly about it and that has made all the difference. I have a whole team, outside of my doctors and practitioners at the hospital, including friends and family who I am open with and who have helped me through my daily struggles with Crohn’s. This has not only helped me along my journey but has also encouraged me to truly accept this new chapter of life.

What attracted me to the PAC was knowing this is a way I could make a difference and help others with IBD. This community has already helped me in learning how to talk about my disease and accept it further!


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