This is a tribute to a disease that has given me so much in the form of treasured memories. I thought I would record some of those lost pages for all time.
Crohn’s disease is a relatively new term, but the “disease” itself has been around forever. I did not realize I had Crohn’s until 2009 and I had suffered from its affect for almost half of my life. Today we have come to a mutual respect for each other, but it was not always so. It was definitely not always so. Throughout my life I have had a sensitive stomach, but I normally related this to my drinking habits. It wasn’t till after I stopped drinking heavily and still had bouts of sickness that I realized I was either pregnant for 15 years or it was something internally wrong.
The first serious incident occurred at Kessler Air Force Base, MS during my training for electronic principles. I developed a fistula in ano which caused me some pain while being forced to run during PT. I hate running unless it is from cops, dogs, or women with knives so I overcame my embarrassment and went to the on base medical center. This would be the first “memorable experience” of my life with Crohn’s.
I limped into the clinic and asked to see the doctor. The Airman running the desk asked me what the visit pertained to. I tactfully said I had a sensitive injury and would rather elaborate with the doctor directly. I waited around for a little while and then the doctor, a Captain, asked me to follow him into an examination room.
“So I am told you have an injury Airman Cushman. Can you give me a little more information or better yet show me what it is?”
I looked at him nervously and finally said “My ass hurts. I am not sure what it is, but it hurts to use the restroom and to run.”
“Well let’s take a look!” the Captain said with amusement in his eyes.
I slowly took my pants off and bent over the table in the middle of the room.
“WOW! Well… that is something!” he said with clear astonishment in his voice. “Hold on a second Airman.” He then walked to the door and opened it.
“Bob! Hey Bob! Come here for a second you have to see this!” he literally yelled for the whole city to hear. “Bring the blue book as well we may need to refer to it!”
“Oh great,” I thought to myself “this is obviously amateur hour. Where did these morons get their medical licenses from Walgreens?”
A Major who was obviously Bob walked in and immediately focused on my bare ass. Nothing like male eyes staring at your rear in such a vulnerable position.
“WOW indeed Jim! Is that… is that even real? What the fuck is that?” Bob said in the most professional voice of bewilderment I have ever heard.
“I have no clue Bob. Let me get another opinion!” Jim exclaimed as he rushed again to the door. “Cindy! Nancy! Could you come here for a second please and hurry!”
So after the whole medical staff had gotten a good look at my ass they referred to the magical blue book. Apparently the “F” section was missing, or maybe they just never made it that far, because in the end all they needed was a few shots and a scalpel. Years later I still cringe over that experience and how stupid some medical “professionals” are. Nothing surprises me anymore.
I value my time with Crohn’s because it has brought me closer to god. While sitting on my porcelain throne I often contemplate what god does on his. Does he use angel feathers and are they as soft as my Charmin Ultra? I also consider different advantages and disadvantages of my ass… or lack thereof. I suppose if I wasn’t so lazy I would simply go and buy a padded toilet seat because even the softest seat becomes hard as stone after sitting on it for 30 minutes straight. Maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas, but as long as I have my Charmin Ultra Soft I will be ok.
The second major incident involving my Crohn’s disease was far more painful and less humorous. It was actually almost murderous in nature. My first major flareup left me gasping in pain for 24 hours straight. After I decided I wasn’t being a pussy and that it really did hurt that bad, I went to the doctor. By now everyone should realize that I hold a very deep distrust for all medical personnel even though my father is a physician himself. The pain was that bad that I would have sought the help of almost any drug dealer. After dragging myself to the family practice center and seeing the on call there, she concluded that I had an appendicitis. An ambulance was called and I was in a medical bed before I even knew what was happening. I distinctly remember thinking “Oh Jesus… who is Appendicitis and what the fuck did I do to cause his wrath?”
The surgeon came to greet me in the hospital and that should have been a warning sign, but I was in so much pain that I would have taken, smoked, or injected almost anything at that point. Mr. Slice and Dice had me prepped and ready before the ink on the papers was even dry. The surgery of course went well, but what didn’t go as expected was what occurred when I woke up. I awoke to the same pain that I had prior to the operation and I became furious. Now some of you might think you know “furious.” Unless you have seen a half drugged, screaming Korean throwing bed pans at nurses you have never known furious. I was fucking pissed.
When Dr. Right came to see me he gave me the blue pill. I felt better within ten minutes and he didn’t even have to take any body parts. Imagine that. I was caught between being so relieved that the pain was gone and still being furious over the unnecessary surgery that I just said “thank you.” I had finally learned I had Crohn’s and my nemesis was given a name. To this day I am told Crohn’s is a disease, but if I get to heaven and I find out Crohn’s is actually a person I am going to punch him in the fucking face even if it means I have to turn around and go back the other direction.
I have come to realize I can’t eat certain things, even though occasionally I still do. I shouldn’t drink alcohol… but that just ain’t happening folks. I deal with my pain level every day and that struggle is something only other people that live with constant pain can understand. Dealing with any level of “pain” on a constant, never-ending basis changes your perspective on life. It changes your life. Even if that pain level is a 1 on a scale of 10 it is still a struggle and it is still felt. The human body hates pain and rejects the idea of “accepting” any amount of it on a consistent basis. I know my disease is by far not the worst out there and so I respect and sympathize with those that have terminal illnesses or lifelong diseases. You have my thoughts and prayers.