Spoken word artist Jeff van Reen “You are nineteen years old”/ Crohn’s disease

You are 19 years old and you might die These were the words that I said to myself as I was lying in that hospital bed Trying to look at that get-well-soon cards on the shelf, but I couldn’t see them My vision was a blur. I couldn’t hear the reassuring words from my mother. We couldn’t reach each other I couldn’t move my head or see the painkillers and antibiotics get hooked up to my IV, like an assembly line in a factory I couldn’t raise my hand, I’d near the end and… … It was okay Ironically in May, four months prior to this day. I tried to take my life away. I tried to drown myself in the bathtub Because I needed life and everything else to stop because I was so sick All my friends, who were no longer friends because I was too sick to hang out, were without worries and went to school While I told my doctor about my stool, nausea, exhaustion, and pain. Cautious of every move that I made Two years after my fate changed and I sustained the diagnosis, and it was all in vain my prognosis left a tragic trace of a dark and sad place, for all the doses of every medication failed to help or give consolation to my hopeless situation full of complications. Day after day. Always feeling tired and sick fading away in a worsening pace, stuck in place and my doctor Called me a hopeless case. I guess I wanted to solve this case for him Let my breath swim and float away in eternity from everything, always, but I couldn’t solve this case I saw my reflection in that water My face was of someone who wanted to live. Be a father, an author, an actor, a lover. Someone not dead. My life felt over but I wasn’t dying I felt like I had no future ahead. So I keep on trying? But I wanted to live and feel alive so I got out of that tub grabbed a knife and I cut myself up Because I needed to feel. So I wouldn’t get back in that tub and tried to steal my life again Cutting was a good thing For it would bring me to a therapist A psychologist. Someone who would help me find a way to feel more alive, not knowing there’d be a day where I would say “you are nineteen years old… … and you might die” I didn’t say these words out loud In between the crowd of doctors, surgeons and nurses who we’re all shaking their heads while my nervous family curses, since no one has a cure, I hear this voice in my head So very pure It was my reason, it was my soul Telling me I can’t control what’s going to happen urging me to keep fighting but to also let go if I see the white light and I die… … at nineteen And as scared as I was It felt serene You are 26 years old and you will be sick for the rest of your life This is something I’ll be telling myself for the rest of my life I’ll change the age once a year, but the fear of dying is no longer here. Yet every day I’m in pain. Every move and step I make drains me. Let me explain Crohn’s disease is a chronic stomach flu, but you are twenty-six years old and you might feel okay today So live it fully For surely again soon It will go away

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