My story begins in the summer of ’06. It was the summer after my freshman year in college. Everything in life was great! I was pursuing my dream of becoming a teacher at one of the best colleges around. I was in the midst of my first relationship. I had just bought my first car. All of my dreams were coming true….then life came crashing down.
That summer I experienced extreme weight loss. I lost over 50 lbs in a matter of months. Then, the stomach pains began; the excruciating and debilitating stomach pains. Something wasn’t right. I went to the doctor and he ran some tests. A few days later, he called to let me know something was off with my blood count and he wanted me admitted into the hospital the next day. I spent several days in the hospital as they ran tests to try and figure out what was wrong with me. I left the hospital without any answers.
I finally got the answers I was looking for after my first colonoscopy. The news was not what I was expecting. Crohn’s Disease. That was the answer. Crohn’s Disease. I think that answer left me with more questions than answers. What is Crohn’s Disease? Can it be treated? Can it be cured? How did I get? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I did not get answers to all of those questions that day, nor do I have answers to all of those questions today. That is one reason why I walk. Why I am doing what I can to make a difference. To find answers to those questions for myself and for every other patient still looking.
The first few years after my diagnosis were a dark spot in my life. I struggled to take my medication. Swallowing even a tiny aspirin was a struggle let alone 16 HORSE PILLS A DAY! My life seemed to be falling apart around me just as my body was falling apart. I was depressed, had to drop out of school, and broke up with my girlfriend. In a short few months, I went from on top of the world to a deep dark pit I couldn’t seem to climb myself out of. I wasn’t going to give up though. I fought back.
I worked hard to get my life back on track. In the fall of ’09, I reenrolled in school. I was happy again! Being in school changed my outlook. In the summer of ’10, I found a new GI and together we found a medication that would work for me. Humira. Finally, there was an option other than a pill. I’m probably in the minority but I would rather give myself a shot every day than have to swallow one pill. Luckily, it was only one shot every two weeks!
For the next 8 years Humira kept my Crohn’s Disease under control. I was able to live a basically normal life. No more stomach pains. No more weight loss. There was still frequent restroom use but that was something I could live with. In those 8 years I accomplished a lot. I graduated from college and made my dream of becoming a teacher a reality. I got my own place. I went back to school and graduated from grad school. I made many happy memories. Life was good again…..until it wasn’t.
In the winter of ’18 I began to lose weight again. At first, I was happy. I had gained all that weight back I had lost before….well… maybe it was that weight and then some. Anyways, I was happy to be losing the weight but then I just kept shedding pounds. Every day, more and more weight loss that I was not trying to lose. Then, I lost my appetite. I couldn’t finish a meal. And then finally came the final sign that something wasn’t right. Those excruciating stomach pains were back. It was at that point that I knew I had to talk to my GI.
After talking to my GI about what was going on, he ordered some tests. The results of the CT scan showed some major complications from the Crohn’s Disease. The CT scan revealed that my intestines had tethered themselves together and to my bladder. Surgery was recommended to remove that section of the intestines. So in August of ’18 I had my first surgery due to Crohn’s Disease. The surgeon went in and removed a 10 cm section of my intestines where the small and the large intestine meet. Every inch, cm, and mm of Crohn’s Disease was now gone. I know that at some point it almost guaranteed to return but for the moment I am savoring the fact that it is gone! The doctors and I agreed that taking medication was still a good choice. We have decided to change medications though. Still a shot (sigh of relief) but no longer Humira; instead I am going to start on Stelara.
Since the surgery, things have been great! I have started to regain weight. My appetite is back. Is it ever back? I use restroom much less than I had. I feel good. I look good. Life is good.