Would You Rather…

decisionsWhile on Facebook this morning, I came across an interesting post in the ibdjourneys group. A member of the group posted the question:

If you had the option of being completely cured of your illnesses, or giving up sex for life – what would you choose?

Quite the conundrum, or at least it would be if such an option were ever realistically presented. It’s also worth noting that in context of this question, masturbation counts as sex. It really shouldn’t, in my opinion, but that’s another matter. The answers from other group members were split quite evenly. One member posted:

“I have already given up my sex life because of this stupid disease, so I would be happy for a cure!!”

On the other side were answers like:

“Sex, drugs (6mp, prednisone, etc) and rock and roll!!!”

I knew my answer as soon as I finished reading the question: I’d take the cure. Jayee might be a little disappointed with my choice, but I don’t think there’s much debate in the matter. If I were cured, I’d be a happier, healthier person, and therefore a happier, healthier boyfriend. I wouldn’t have to worry about cancelling plans or cutting dates short because of pain or accidents. I could go out to dinner and enjoy an alcoholic beverage (something I haven’t done in over 5 years), and I wouldn’t have to worry about eating spicy foods or raw vegetables or potato skins or broccoli or mushrooms or shrimp or red meat or sugary desserts. I could exercise and plan vacations and look for jobs and apartments in Auckland. I could live with the sense of freedom I enjoyed before my first flare-up and have yet to enjoy since. Sex is gratification, a cure is freedom. It’s a no-brainer.

The ibdjourneys post did get me thinking about some other “would you rather…” questions that I’ve considered at one time or another.

Would you rather remove your colon or take a medication that can cause cancer?

This was the very real choice I had to make about a year ago. For months, I held off on taking Remicade, a medication that can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, in addition to causing a host of other potential side effects. The risks are rather low, but they exist nonetheless. On the flip side, having an ostomy or pelvic pouch comes with its own potential dangers like obstructions, malnutrition, and “butt burn”, not to mention the fact that you’ll still be going to the bathroom about 6 times a day. I did try Remicade, and it worked great for about two months before crapping out and leaving me so frustrated that I decided to have the surgery to remove my colon. I still wish I had stayed on the drug for a longer time, just to see if it would switch on again. I also wish I had tried Humira, a drug that works in a similar way as Remicade, and also comes with similar risks. As I sit here with a terrible ostomy and no guarantee that my pelvic pouch will work as hoped when it does finally get up and running, I know I’d rather be on medication than live without an important internal organ.

Would you rather have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?

A similar question came up at an IBD event I spoke at earlier this year. An audience member posed the question, “what do you think is worse, Crohn’s or colitis?” There’s no clear answer, because a “mild” case of Crohn’s can be easier to live with than a severe case of colitis, and vice versa. Because each person’s disease is different, there’s no way of saying definitively which disease is worse. However, if I had to choose, I’d take colitis, simply because it does its damage primarily in the colon while leaving the rest of the G.I. tract relatively untouched. Crohn’s Disease, on the other hand, impacts everything “from gum to bum” as one pamphlet so eloquently put it.

At another IBD conference I attended, a doctor spoke of the future of IBD diagnoses. In a few years, we may see the labels “Crohn’s” and “colitis” replaced with “Type 1 IBD” and “Type 2 IBD” and “Type 3 IBD” and so on. These labels would focus more on the severity of an individual’s disease, rather than segregating patients into one of two broad groups.

Would you rather have an IBD or cancer?

Tough one. At first glance, it seems like an easy choice – anything’s better than cancer, right? But hold on how. An IBD is a chronic, incurable disease. You’ll live with it for the rest of your life, and contrary to what you may have heard or read, a colectomy is NOT a cure for colitis (I’ll have more on that issue in a future post). Cancer patients, on the other hand – and I know this is a massive simplification – can receive treatment and live on cancer-free. That’s a broad statement, I know, because like IBDs, cancer takes on different levels of severity based on the individual it impacts. If I had to choose, and what a horrible choice it is, I would take an IBD. A quality of life-threatening disease is slightly better than a life-threatening disease.

Would you rather keep your life experiences as they are, or never have fallen ill?

I’ve heard some people with an IBD say that they wouldn’t trade their experience with the disease because “they now know how strong they can be” or “they’ve gained so much perspective.” What rubbish. I’d gladly trade the last several years of living with colitis for the chance to live the same time frame disease-free. I’d never have written my book, I’d never have been invited to speak at events, I’d never have impressed people with my “strength”, and I’d be a happier person, a better person. To hell with “perspective”, I’d rather be healthy.

I’d be interested to hear what other people, IBD patients or not, have to say on the above scenarios. Some of them are real thinkers, not like the questions on You Rather, like “would you rather have Skittles or M&Ms?”

(M&Ms, obviously)

Image via The art of faking it

About rasheedclarke

Award-winning author. Marathon runner. Exceptional dresser. I'd like to be all those things.

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