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Crohn's Lyfe


Do me a favor: roll back your sleeves, turn your arm over (hair down, veins up), and take a minute to look at your forearm, from elbow to wrist.

arm 001

Run your finger gently across the skin. What do you notice?

I feel the tiny hairs nearly invisible to the eye. I feel the protrusion of veins as I pass my fingers across. The delicateness of the skin–it feel so vulnerable.

Look at your arm. What do you see?

I see layers: larger veins pulsing with blood; smaller veins that become less and less visible the farther they are in the depths of my arm. The connections between the channels, like a mini highway system. I see the muscles on the sides of my arms, but there are no muscles bulking here: rather there are tendons that fire as I wiggle my fingers. Doing so will always make me think of The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke gets his replacement arm and clenches his fist and you see the little mechanics firing.

robo arm

This picture is so complex, so strong, but so, so, vulnerable.The underside of my forearm might not immediately elicit the descriptor of “beautiful,” but it is: slender, delicate, elegant, soft, structured. And utterly breakable, particularly on someone so petite as I.  And, for me, it is one of the most important areas of my body. This seemingly inconsequential area has saved me time and time again. Though I have abused it many times over the years, still it remains relatively unblemished, save for a few scars here and there and a freckle or two. 

arm 004

Into this portion of my arm, I receive my Remicade infusion. Remicade is my liquid gold. I have a long history with this drug, and since April 2002 I have known life without it for a 5 month period which landed me in the hospital and 25 lbs thinner. I am one of the very lucky few who has been able to go back onto the drug without developing antibodies, and I don’t know where I would be without it.

arm 003

I remember the first time I got Remicade; 24 hours after my first treatment, I started to improve. 4 days after the drain that had been placed 5 months before stopped draining and could be removed. Remicade has literally enabled me to run marathons and go to horse shows after missing multiple days of school, getting my infusion, and being like new. Combined with taking care of myself, Remicade has given me my LYFE. It is the only Crohn’s medication that I am on that I will be able to stay on when Alex and I start trying to get pregnant (and while I am pregnant, should I be so lucky). My infusions are a standing 2 hour appointment with myself ever 7 weeks, something that was so crucial for me while I was still in school.

This arm gives blood samples for lab tests, momentum in runs, bases for planks, a surface for writing while standing or carrying plates, a way to carry my groceries, my handbag. How do I treat it? By jabbing a needle in there and forcing a foreign substance into the very channels it is trying so hard to protect.

Thank you, forearm. I may never tell you this enough, but I am so grateful for what you do and what you are.

Talk to me, Goose.

Pause and really look at your body. What seemingly insignificant part have you been taking for granted recently? What can this area tell you about yourself and how you live your life?

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