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Abby Caplin, MD, MA | Article

An Open Letter to a Young Student with Crohn’s Disease

4/27/2012
Over the past few months, I’ve been busy—on my computer. Like many people today, I sometimes can’t seem to turn it off.

How many of you, I wonder, actually sleep with your computer? It’s OK to confess that you do. If you are dealing with illness, it can be a lifesaver. You can go onto a DVD rental site and get your head into another world by instantly watching a good movie. This can be a smart move.

Recently, I received a call from my friend Nitza. I could hear the wind blowing through the phone as she spoke, her speech coming out in small puffs.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m walking outside in my neighborhood,” she told me. It was 8 AM. I’d already been up for a few hours, typing away in my pajamas. I was feeling cranky, since I’d been doing this for several weeks and felt like I was missing out on “life.”

“How do you have the time? “ I asked, incredulous that, with her hectic schedule, she had time for a walk.

“I don’t have time for it, Abby,” she said, “but I must do it, or I can’t handle everything else. I just throw a coat over my pajamas and head out the door. I don’t even take my purse.”

The next morning I gave it a try. It was a challenge to not open the laptop when I awoke. Breaking a habit is difficult. I put on my coat, hat and scarf, slipped on my shoes, grabbed my keys and stepped out the door. What a world!

I eventually found a rustic little path behind some homes. I felt free and happy. I was alone, it didn’t matter what I looked like, and I was using all of my senses. I was alive! I began to sing, confident that no one was around.

Suddenly a woman emerged, heading towards me from the opposite direction. Embarrassed, I stopped singing. Within seconds, she had passed me by, but not before I noticed her blue pajamas with pink polka dots peeking out!