I’m no fan of football, in fact I despise it, but I felt a surge of pride watching Darren Fletcher return to the pitch in his first match for a long time over the weekend. You see he may be a loaded footballer but me and Darren have something in common – we both suffer from Ulcerative Colitis.
I don’t think anyone who suffers from IBD could fail to be inspired by what Darren did this weekend. Even I, the one who hates football, cheered on as he took to the pitch for the first time. I’m the sort if person who usually bickers and tries to read a newspaper while my partner watches Man United but this time I actually watched and felt proud. It gave me shivers.
Ok yes all he did was play football, but what he did was show others having colitis shouldn’t stop you living your dreams. He showed that anything is possible. He showed that you can get diagnosed with what used to be regarded as a taboo, embarrassing illness, and still go on to play for one of the most famous clubs in the world. He showed all those teenaged boys and grown-up men who are going through the horrific pain of Crohn’s and Colitis that you can still become the person you want to be. I mean if he can get on a pitch and play in front of millions and millions of viewers we can try to live our lives .
That first touch of the ball inspired hope in so many people – the commentators definitely didn’t realise that and I’m not sure that he did either.
Yes Darren Fletcher probably had it a little simpler than the rest of us. I don’t mean his illness is any less than ours (before you start trolling me) but he must have had a great medical team around him, after all he is a world famous footballer, who would expect anything less. Oh and he earns a lot more than the average joe. But that won’t have made it any less scary, painful or nightmarish – and he had to get ill in the spotlight wondering all the while whether his career and life would be over. That’s something that I think everyone with Crohn’a disease and Colitis can relate to…I can.
I was a little bothered to hear the commentators comparing his illness to an injury. I can’t accept that. Yes being a sportsman and being off with an injury must be heartbreaking, but you can’t compare a sprain or a broken bone to a bowel filled with ulcers; to severe weight loss; constant diarrhea; crippling stomach spasms; fatigue; insomnia; vomiting, to name a few symptoms. What he overcame to get on that pitch was something many people wouldn’t try to come back from, something which would make even the strongest people give up.
And that’s why seeing him in such good health was so important. If he can do it so can the rest of us. I can’t say how he got well, or if (when) the disease will strike again, but if he can carry on so can we.
Since I started this blog I have come across so many incredibly brave people. It always amazes me where people with chronic and terminal illnesses get their strength from – it seems to come out of nowhere; something that stirs inside people when they are at their lowest moment. I see people climbing mountains while loosing their sight through diabetes to help others and their families not go through the same things; running hundreds of miles through desserts; dedicating their time to caring for others despite battling with a brain tumour – that’s just a few people I have come across.
People are truly inspiring. The IBD community are truly inspiring. Even living day to day with IBD is a challenge but the people I come across can’t settle for that, they want to jump out of planes, walk across fire and travel the world – they want to be the best they can be.
So it’s time for me to really get cracking with these challenges. Yes I’ve done a few, and some of them have been tough, but I’ve totally failed to crack on with the big adventures like walking along the Great Wall of China, or even begin learning French and learning to cook properly – I have no idea how I’m going to get a book published.
But if you guys can do these amazing thing it’s my turn to start taking things more seriously, so starting tomorrow I’m learning French properly. I’ll let you know how I get on…oh, and I, going to restart the reading challenge I only managed five months of reading a book a month – I’m not one to cheat.