Hi, I’m Julie! I’m a newlywed (just married on April 21), and I live in Philadelphia, PA. I was thrown into the world of chronic illness practically overnight, after an ER visit for what I thought was kidney pain (I suffer from kidney stones) turned out to be Crohn’s disease.
I started having flares in 2011, and almost immediately, I felt the burden that Crohn’s had on my life. I had to leave vacations early and cancel or rearrange social plans due to being sick – something I never worried about before my diagnosis. This took an emotional toll, as I missed the luxury of being able to follow through on everything I had planned to do.
When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone my age who suffered from IBD, so this only added to the feeling of isolation. Once I found the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, I began to get involved with programs like spin4 crohn’s & colitis cures, which helped me find like-minded people who care about physical health and getting involved to raise money for cures. Many of these people are now good friends of mine, and it’s been such a great emotional support to be able to share my experience with people who “get it”.
Since those initial feelings of isolation, I have also found love! It was during a 3 day hospitalization to get a PICC line that I got bored and decided to sign up for a dating app. I was matched with a guy who I’d somehow never met, even though we’d both attended the same college, studied abroad at the same university, and lived only a few blocks from each other. We had our first conversation on May 2, exactly 3 weeks to the day from my surgery, and our first date was a week later – my first actual outing since being in the hospital!
I always worried about when to bring up my disease, and how it might affect my relationship with someone, as I’d had negative experiences in the past. A few weeks into dating, I told Joe the reason I was attending a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation event, and he responded simply, “we all have something.” That was it. Now that we’re recently married, I can’t help but reflect on how lucky I am to be marrying Jeff. He is my cheerleader, supporter, and advocate, and most importantly, constant comic relief. I wish I had met him sooner so that I could have had this ray of light in my life for longer, but the world has a way of working out. I can now say that my Crohn’s Disease had a hand in giving me my happily ever after.
Now that I am well and in remission, and things have been so great in my life, I wish I could tell the old me who was constantly sick that it will get better. When you are at your lowest moments, it is pretty tough to imagine a day that you are well again. But here I am!
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