Crohn’s disease, or simply known as inflammatory bowel disease, affects over 700,000 Americans. It is more common with people between the ages of 15 – 35 according to the CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America). However back in 1988 this illness affected me quite early. Then I was only three years old. No young child should have to fight with the symptoms of any illness including those of Crohn’s disease. Of course I cannot remember back that far, but I have heard from my parents about what I went through. I was in consistent pain, had blood in my stools, constant diarrhea, dehydration, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. I have also found old records and letters that were sent to my parents from the Children’s Hospital, which said that they thought I may have celiac disease because I was “too young” to have Crohn’s disease. My doctor at that time had not seen Crohn’s disease in anyone that young. Or, they thought, it might be an allergic reaction to the antibiotic, Amoxicillin.
Growing up, I continued to have the same problems. I was constantly on and off different medications including high doses of steroids (Prednisone), in and out of different hospitals having numerous colonoscopies, and had biopsies on my intestines. I could hardly do anything or go anywhere because I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom long enough. Field trips, girl scout trips, and vacations were never fun. School was even worse. I actually had to repeat the second grade because I missed too many days. By the time I was in the fifth grade, I believe I was 11, I remember being in so much pain that I would literally collapse to the floor in pain because I was too weak to stand up. I would run to the restroom at school all of the time. I recall a time where I had went to the restroom in pain, of course, and there were no locks on the stall doors for some reason. All of a sudden, while I am sitting there in tears and pain, three classmates threw the stall door open and just stood there, pointing and laughing at me. I actually had a teacher that thought I skipped school because I missed so many days. By sixth grade, my parents thought I was dying due to me having the same symptoms for nine years with not too much of a change.
I went to Children’s Hospital one more time. I had an upper and lower GI done as well as some biopsies. The test results came back that I had Crohn’s disease. I was 12 years old at this time. After trying nearly every medication that they had in 1997 – 1998 for Crohn’s I was put on Pentasa along with several other medications. That finally worked. I did really well until my senior year of high school. The pressures of getting ready to graduate and starting college did me in. Crohn’s and stress do not mix well. However, this time after having testing done, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. At the age of 22, I had a stress fracture in my hip. After having a bone density test done, I was called at work to be told that I have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. Between the age of 22 years old until now at the age of 28, I have been fired from jobs and had to quit some. So, I started college two years ago and as of right now I am working on an associates degree in Social Work. Ultimately, I plan to have either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s in Psychology so I can become a mental health counselor.
The one thing that I can say is I have NEVER let this illness get me down or try to take anything important out of my life. Even now, I am having problems, taking steroids, and in the process of testing. However, it hasn’t beat me. I haven’t let it and I won’t. I have learned during the past 28 years that having to fight like a girl as much as possible will only make you stronger. No one wants to miss out on opportunities in their life, miss out on important moments, or whatever else for any reason let alone being ill with an incurable disease. Don’t let the hard, trying times get you down. Do not miss out on life. Fighting like a girl will always give you the strength to overcome what you need to.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.