Too Much Information

May 15, 2011

Do you ever forget where the “Too much information” line is? I spend so much time around other Crohnies, close friends and family that I forget what is acceptable in everyday conversation. The regular guy in the street doesn’t really want to know about my bowel movements.

When someone asks me a question with regards to Crohn’s, I plough straight in. Quite often describing many of the symptoms, side effects and affected areas of my body. I don’t seem to blush with embarrassment anymore. Does this mean I’m comfortable talking about bums? When I meet new people I seem to find myself talking about my ailments, whether they want to hear them or not. I was once a shy and restrained boy and now I am upfront and open.

My wife gets fed up with how much I talk to strangers but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself. Up until being diagnosed, I had never heard of the condition, so now I find myself wanting to make everyone aware.

I obviously keep some of the “juicy” details to myself as they are not for the faint hearted. I hide these details from most people as I do like [...] continue the story

Identity, mental illness and recovery

“Once I became my diagnosis, there was no one left to recover.”

Holy cow! This really captures something very important! It articulates what concerns me most about the rush to diagnosis for people in early recovery. It’s much less any intellectual concern, concern that a medication might be unhelpful or some concern about purity of addiction—it’s the black hole that this identity issue can easily become.

Remembering who we are isn’t as easy as it might sound. Once we receive a diagnosis, it often becomes the primary focus of our identity. It can become the lens that we see ourselves through. Our new label can overshadow the depth and breadth of who we are as people. To make matters worse, most of those around us started relating to us as though we’d turned into a diagnosis. They ask us about our medication and if we’re taking it; how we’re taking it; how we feel about taking it; how long we’ve taken it. They ask us what other medications we’ve taken; how long we’ve been ill; how many times we’ve been hospitalized, homeless, in jail, on drugs, and so on. In other words, those around us start seeing only the parts of us [...] continue the story

Father and son, doctor and grieving family member

The edges of Cameron’s lips rise undeniably toward the clear blue sky. His legs move methodically. One motionless on the scooter and the other periodically kicking to propel himself forward. He weaves in and out dodging my shadow as I jog beside him.

I struggle to keep pace. My breathing unsteady and labored. My joints aching. And my brain foggy from lack of sleep and replaying the events of the day.

***

The hospital was uncharacteristically quiet. Even for 5am. My eyes fluttered with fatigue as I willed my mind to focus after two nights of countless interruptions. I felt no joy in this early morning excursion.

The room was lit by a small lamp. A woman in her forties sat with a young child curled on her lap. A boy, Cameron’s age. My eyes adjusted to the absence of light.

The middle aged man lying on the bed looked far older then reality. He took deep irregular breaths. Each pause a question. His wife held his hand gingerly. I inhaled the seen cautiously. I couldn’t help but think of my dad. Were his last moments like this?

The woman dabbed her eyes with a tissue. She tried to move slowly to avoid waking up the [...] continue the story