By: Taylor Carmack

When you’re sick for a long time, being sick is the only thing you know.

For me, everything in my life changed so I could live my life to the fullest with my illness. I woke up two hours earlier than I needed to so I had time to eat breakfast and then get sick. I went through the entire day without eating so I didn’t have to worry about having stomach cramps or explaining the hours I’d spend in the bathroom getting sick.

I even took a job that was a block away from my apartment so I could go home on my lunch break to use my own bathroom. My whole life was surrounded around my Crohn’s Disease.

When I had my large intestine removed, healed and started feeling better, my life was flipped.

I had so much fun eating; actually, the word “fun” is an understatement. I ate so much, and I ate all the time! I had forgotten what it was like to eat breakfast, lunch, AND dinner! The weight I put on was proof of it, but I was able to eat and love it. It hit me one day when I was finishing up lunch and continuing my day at work that food was no longer the enemy and it felt so great!

But like every other human, I caught a bug, which was eventually going to happen, especially since I work right alongside children. It wasn’t anything serious like the flu, but it was a bug and it hit me hard. Anyone else would have laid up in bed, drank a lot of fluids and let it pass, but I FREAKED! I was on the phone with my doctor freaking out about my stomach hurting and my output being watery. I was crying to my husband about how my Crohn’s must be back and how I was going to need another surgery to remove more of my intestine. My doctor brought me into his office about a week later and like everyone else, my bug ran its course and was out of my system. That’s when my doctor told me that my Crohn’s wasn’t active, and I was looking great. He told me I was suffering from PTSD and I should probably talk to someone about it.

I thought  to myself PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? That’s ridiculous! What was so traumatic about my experience? I had a major organ removed and felt better, that’s nothing. So, I ignored my doctor and didn’t see someone about it. It wasn’t until I injured my toe dancing and I looked at my husband and said, “I think I need to have surgery to make it feel better.” I knew as these words came out of my mouth that surgery wasn’t a fix for my toe. I’ve hurt my toes so many times in my life and I never once thought that surgery would make it better, so I headed to therapy.

It makes so much more sense now after talking it out. For years my stomach hurt, and I was always in pain and just like that, a 7-hour surgery made me feel better so why wouldn’t a surgery on everything else that hurts make it feel better? You may know it doesn’t make sense while you read this, but your mind plays tricks on you when it’s been through a lot. A muscle strain does not need a surgery! I know that now, but it took some time and I still struggle, especially with stomach pain.

I’ve spent the past year learning that PTSD is something that I could have, because having a major organ taken from your body IS a huge deal, and learning that I need to give my body time to heal and rest and enjoy the good days.

Mental health is a work in progress but it’s so important to work on it! Who knows, if I didn’t seek help, I may have had my toe amputated.