Truthfully, I haven't felt like I've been in control for quite some time now. There is this thing hanging over my head that determines what I can eat, where I can go out to eat, how much energy I have, and how I feel about food. I've tried to own this disease of mine, making the eating restrictions just another part of who I am. The one thing I will never have control over, though, is getting sick. I have no say as to when, how bad or why I get sick. I can't make it go away faster, I can't even silence the symptoms. I am helpless to the angry beast that is my stomach.
This last weekend, I went out with a group of friends. We went to a restaurant I've been to several times and never had a problem with, but something went wrong. Before I'd even finished eating my food I started to feel it. Two of the people I was out with have watched me get sick before; they know the symptoms and they know how fast they set in. They started to pick up on how I was feeling right away and asked if I wanted to go home. I insisted on staying, but eventually everyone else started to notice too.
I realized right then that I couldn't go home. If I let my disease rule my social life, I won't have a social life. It already has a lot of control over me, and it happily sucks up every ounce of extra control I relinquish. If I stayed, and powered through, I could prove to myself that I could still have friends. So I stayed. We were out for a couple more hours, and I didn't curl up and die.
I found that when I was involved in the conversation, I felt fine. If I zoned out, I started to feel really awful. So I stayed involved, I stayed interested, and then I went home and laid on the couch for the next two days. I took my disease by the horns and stayed in control. I felt so happy, as if I won some long-awaited battle. And maybe I did.
Before my diagnosis, I let all social involvements slip away. I was so sick and tired and I didn't have an explanation for people, so I just avoided people and stayed sick. In the first while after my diagnosis, I found it hard to spend time with anyone because I was dealing with so much. Eventually I got to the point that I could be social, but after that went awry a few times, I started avoiding it again. Now, I can finally go out with friends and have fun.
I still don't have a lot of control. I can't eat what I want, even when I want, and I can't take risks. But when the disease rears its ugly head, I can stay in control. I felt like one of those bull riders at the rodeo. I may have only stayed on the bucking bull for 8 seconds, but I felt like I was in control for every second of that. I battled the beast, and I won. (At least, for as long as I wanted to. I was pretty pathetic for the next two days.)