Anyone who has traveled by airplane is familiar with these words. Of course, I also remember hearing “We are turning off the ‘No Smoking’ sign”. Living my entire adult life with Crohn’s disease forces me to think daily about what I can and cannot do. Everyone experiencing Crohn’s knows all too well that we have physical limitations, learning early on how to compensate.
If I could do anything as a health activist, I would travel the world. That is a big aspiration even for others with different or no physical debilities. As I get older, I find relatively short trips in the car are out of the realm of possibility. I carefully map out my trip, calculate the time, prepare for the unexpected and always plan ahead. Not the spontaneous lifestyle I once enjoyed when taking “road trips”.
I stopped apologizing and making excuses in lieu of laughter. My sardonic sense of humor combined with a touch of procrastination became coping mechanisms, aligning myself with the like. Those in the health care community are even more forgiving and relieve the stress and demands of the profession with a healthy dose of comedy. More and more people are diagnosed with GI disorders every day, demanding a more empathetic society.
With a growing knowledge of Crohn’s disease and related autoimmune and GI disorders, we have no reason to hide. For years, I have threatened to write a book about where to find the convenient bathrooms, giving people the freedom to travel with confidence. Naturally, they would be rated according to access and cleanliness and contain accompanying stories (have I got stories). That may be the best gift I can offer as a health activist, destined to become a bestseller!