Sunday, 2 February 2014

Crohn of the Brave

If you've ever experienced a period of serious, debilitating, and perhaps even life threatening, illness, or, like myself you suffer from a chronic and incurable illness, there's a 99% chance you'll have been referred to as 'brave'. 

Now before I begin let me clarify that there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's a lovely word and it's connotations are flattering in the extreme. 
But why 'brave'?

Myself, I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease; I got sick, and got surgery, and got a little better, then got sick again (repeat to infinity). 
I had no choice in any of it. I just had to grimace and bear it. 
Maybe that's why the idea of 'bravery' is such a bug bear for me; because it's all out with my control. I don't WANT to have to be 'brave', or 'inspiring' or any other similes raided from the Thesaurus of Hallmark. 

I WANT to be 'NORMAL'. 

I don't consider myself brave because I didn't chose this life. The Crohn's life chose me.
I didn't decide to jump in front of a car to save a pensioner from getting thrown to their death. 
I didn't punch a shark in the face to stop it eating a child's leg. 
Pull a morbidly obese man from a burning building wearing a gasoline soaked maxi dress. 
I didn't leave the last Jaffa Cake in the packet for SOMEONE ELSE to eat. 
All of these things I consider to be acts of bravery. Performed out of choice. Selfless acts to benefit someone else. Putting yourself at risk without consideration. 

I 'put myself at risk' when I take medication that gives me horrible side effects, or when I go under the surgeons knife, or use a public toilet in a train station. But I didn't choose to be 'brave'. I chose to accept my lot and get on with it. Because really, what is my alternative? Play the martyr? Die? 
Where's the bravery in that? 

I suppose I dislike the idea of being thought of as 'brave' mainly because I often don't feel it. What's brave about squirming every time you think about getting examined, or squeezing the bottom of the chair when you get another blood test? I regularly feel weak and powerless and that I have no choice but to bow down to my illness. That makes me frustrated and angry and certainly not someone who'd 'inspire'. 

I feel at my bravest when I tell you that I don't feel brave. I often feel anything but. Bravery comes from making the absolute best of yourself in spite of an illness. Attitude is everything. You are limited in your choices so choose wisely; choose to be happy. Now that's inspirational. 


  1. Not everyone is 'brave' enough, or in your case I shall use 'bold' enough to lay out their story in public. Only the select few find the courage to let others into what is at times an embarrassing illness, it takes a strong kind of person to talk so openly about how Crohn's / Colitis makes us feel. Many people put up a front and never admit to feeling down-trodden or 'beat'. It takes a strong character to over come that and in turn without even realizing your helping / advising those quiet voices who aren't yet up to the challenge of discussing a life long chronic illness. Sorry but I'm afraid I have no choice but to include you in with my ideal of 'bravery'
    With love

  2. That is unbelievably touching thank-you so very much! x x x