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I live in Michigan, and in mid- March our state went on a stay at home order to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had just gotten over the winter, and then BOOM! the pandemic hit. Whether the quarantine was right or wrong, or political or not, isn’t the focus of this writing. Rather, I want to reflect a little on what I did with my life during this time of isolation.

I was diagnosed with IBD over 20 years ago, so that basically makes me an expert. An expert at diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and nausea, and hospitalizations, and surgery. And an expert at isolation while recovering from Crohn’s flares, from the various complications that occur, from the surgeries that have now become to many to count.

I am no stranger to isolation, and I don’t really enjoy it, but I wanted to share 3 things I learned during this particular period of isolation:

1.      Sometimes being forced to slow down isn’t a bad thing.  With everything cancelled, I found there was more time for everything. Sleeping in. Board games with the family. Sleeping in. Family walks. Sleeping in. Now, don’t get me wrong, my life is crazy and hectic most of the time because I chose to be involved in so many activities. It’s a choice, but sometimes I forget just how nice the peace and quiet can be. And it’s nice to have this time to slow down without having the physical restrictions and pain to contend with.

2.      My hobbies were more therapeutic than I ever knew they were. After surgery in 2015 I learned how to crochet, I watched YouTube videos, and my sister tutored me on the basic stitches. So during this pandemic, got ahead on some Christmas presents, and worked on a few gifts for new babies due in the next few months. I also got a few new hobbies, I learned about and bought some house plants (and most are still alive!), and how to use nail dip powder (totally addicted). It felt good to be using my brain to learn something, while being productive.

3.      Telehealth isn’t that bad after all. I didn’t miraculously become a healthy person during this pandemic. I still required visits with my GI, my WOCN, and my urologist. All of which I was able to do utilizing telehealth. I had jammies on. I didn’t have to spend an hour in the car each way. My husband could be there. I didn’t have to sit in a crowded waiting room. And I also found that given the electronic system, the appointments were usually timely! I still jump at the opportunity for a telehealth visit if offered.

I am not a great patient when I am recovering… I don’t just sit well, so when resting is mandatory I struggle. I am always at a post op appointment getting yelled at for doing too much, too soon. These past few months haven’t been a walk in the park, but as with recovery, it’s temporary and necessary.

Think back on the past few months, is there anything that you have learned?


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Charlotte is a 37 year old Crohn’s Disease patient with a permanent ileostomy. She is married with two crazy children. Charlotte works as a pediatric nurse practitioner in a newborn nursery. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, crocheting, and anything artsy!

 

From Isolation to Advocate: My Journey with an Ostomy and J-Pouch The Unplanned Lessons of a Former Workaholic

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