Be Kind Always

For those who knew me in high school, you all probably saw me as the ‘quiet, shy girl who didn’t speak much’. What you didn’t know – I was sick. Each morning I woke with severe nausea, had to throw up anything left in my stomach, and skip breakfast before I could walk to school. Malnourished. Underweight. Brain fog. Inability to focus. Anaemic. Vitamin deficiencies. After a few trips to the family doctor, I was labelled ‘anorexic’. The doctor looked at me and said: “If you don’t change your habits now, you will be dead in a few weeks.” I laughed out loud. I knew something else was wrong. I didn’t think I would live to survive my 16th birthday. 

Then in university: severe nausea. Unable to eat more than a mouthful or two of any given meal, malnourished, extreme fatigue, hospital visits, emergency rooms, IV lines, crying in pain, unable to walk, constant infections, fainting in public, severe anaemia.
“It’s Gastro”, “It’s heat stroke”, “It’s acid reflux”, “It’s Anxiety”, “It’s Anorexia”. Enough. I demanded a CT scan and awaited results. The results came in: “Your bowels are so severely inflamed you are lucky to be here otherwise you would have been dead in a few weeks’ time”. 

I see my specialist and I turn into a human pin cushion with never-ending needles and testing for months, but I finally get my diagnosis – moderate-severe Crohn’s disease. 

After years of trialling and failing medication – I am now currently taking biologic medication which is a powerful drug that’s used to slow down inflammation in the form of injections. It suppresses my immune system making me susceptible to colds, viruses, and infections, and leaves me with constant headaches and skin problems. This medication is beginning to fail me so I will be dual wielding with a (very) low dose of an anti-cancer medication that’s normally used to treat those with acute leukaemia alongside my injections. By the end of the year, I will most likely have to go to the hospital once every 4-8 weeks to receive stronger medication through an IV line for the rest of my life. 

So, be kind to everyone you meet because you never know what someone is going through. 

Written by Mary Briffa