Monday, January 28, 2013

Crohn's & Flu Season

I sort of have a love hate relationship with flu season. Being on immune suppressants I'm forced by my doctors to get my flu shot every year, so I don't ever get the flu. At least I don't think I do. The flu, a bad flare, who can tell the difference. It really all feels the same to me. As a matter of fact the easiest way to describe Crohn's Disease to someone is to tell them it's like the flu that never goes away. This is why I think it's a mistake to have  Crohn's awareness month in April. I don't think Crohn's should have an awareness month. I think it should have a season, flu season. Crohn's is so much easier to understand if you have just had the flu.

I like it when my own family gets the flu, doubly so if someone craps their pants. For those of you that don't have Crohn's I know I sound like a bad person right now. If you have Crohn's you might say out loud that I'm a bad person, because who wants their family to feel sick? But I know your smiling just a little bit on the inside when someone other then you, or the baby poop their pants. For  a few days the flu it lets your family feel the way you have to feel every day. Lets face it when your family is around you every day Crohn's just becomes part of who you are. "I don't feel good today" is often replied to with "you never feel good." I remember once when I was in so much pain it was making me puke. I was puking into the kitchen sink, and my then 12 year old daughter brings me a towel. This is an unusually kind gesture coming from her, I was very touched, until she opened her mouth and asked if I would make her a sandwich.

When my husband and I were in marriage counselling with a therapist that specialized in working with couples dealing with illness, one of our biggest breakthroughs came when my husband got the flu, and crapped his pants. He took paid sick leave and laid in bed for two whole days complaining about how sick he felt. At counselling we were able to help him realize that I feel like that every day, but still got out of bed and went to work. He also realized that with me, being a self employed full time photographer meant I didn't get paid sick leave. I would go all day without eating because it would mean less chances of me embarrassing myself in front of clients. I couldn't stay healthy that way though and the doctors telling me to quit working. Now made sense to him. He went from going behind my back and telling people I was lazy and made myself sick on purpose to agreeing with the doctors and asking me to quit working.

Facebook and the Flu. I love how people posting that they have the flu tell us how many times they have puked. They never tell us how many times they have shit. Everyone has diarrhea with the flu. It's OK for them to tell us they have digested food coming out their mouth, but not ok to tell us it's also coming out their ass faster then usual. Vomit is just as gross as shit so why only tell us about one? This is why Crohn's is such a silent disease, no one wants to hear about shit. Not even the puking, pooping flu poster. From now on, to make it more acceptable for us to talk about our illness, lets ask the flu poster's how many BM's they have had today. I have to answer that question, so in all fairness I should get the chance to ask it. Then I could say "ha, ha beet you by 5!" or "Hey, you had the same number of BM's today that I've had everyday for the past 3 months!" Think how happy our poor flu poster would feel. They would feel so good knowing that they only have the flu.

I'm not saying we should be unsympathetic to our sick friends and loved ones. We need to realize that years of feeling sick has not only built up a tolerance for it, but also taught us how to cope. Think about jumping into a pool. When you 1st get in the water is freezing, but once your body adjusts it doesn't seem cold to you anymore. We Crohnies have been in the pool for a long time, while the flu people are just dipping their toes in the water.

 Friends and families of Crohn's patients who have the flu should take the time while they are sick to reflect what their loved one with Crohn's has to go through everyday. To that end I have made a few little signs for you to post on your facebook page, pin to pinterest, or hang from your bathroom door.

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