Thursday, May 25, 2006

Passport Panic

I'm heading to Vancouver for a conference in about a week. Much to my chagrin, I've got my passport all ready to go. Even worse, it doesn't expire for another four years.

I dread ever showing anyone my passport. At the time the picture was taken, in 2000, I was still dealing with an active (very active) case of Crohn's disease (a we-can-treat-it-but-we-can't-cure-it autoimmune disorder of the GI system--you can look it up). I had been on prednisone (oral steroids--not the ones that make you hit like Barry Bonds, unfortunately) for over four years at that point.

Prednisone is great in many ways--keeps pain and inflammation down, very inexpensive--heck, it kept me out of the hospital, basically. But it has side effects--increased appetite (you're hungry way more than normal), sleeplessness, heightened emotions (for the first couple of months, anyway--it took me a good two months to stop getting teary-eyed over everything), easier bruising, bone-mass loss, increased blood pressure. And, oh yeah--puffiness. Classic steroid moonface.

Essentially, by the time that picture was taken, I looked somewhat akin to a balloon with a wig and a face painted on. It's awful. I'm not a little gal in any case--I have no illusions about that, and taking the pred didn't help (always hungry, remember?)--but even I knew that wasn't how I was supposed to look.

I know it's all vanity, but by God, it's my vanity.

I'm lucky. Four years ago, a new type of medication jump-started my remission and here I sit, no pred, no Crohn's meds at all, in the care of a great doctor in Boston. Still not a little gal, but with a face that looks normal. Maybe not movie-star purty, but normal. And for me, normal is good. I'm very, very grateful for normal. If a good attitude is helpful to a "chronic" (as my GI back in Texas used to call me), then I'm the poster girl for good attitude.

But I still cringe when I have to show that darn passport picture. The year 2010 can't come soon enough for me.


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