Just the two of us…
If you’d like to read an excellent medical summary of Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBDNewsToday.com have one here.
It may sound bizarre but I was genuinely relieved when I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I hadn’t felt “right” physically or mentally for a very long time. I would go to doctors but only ever felt like I was patched up and never well – “I see a lot of undergraduates around exam time”, “your current situation sounds stressful”, “try to vary your diet” and so forth. My joints ached. I felt worn out. I had serious problems concentrating and focusing at times. I felt like my brain had no more space in it at times. And constantly feeling out of sorts with no actual resolution started to really affect me mentally. I was never seriously unwell but just always unwell enough. I felt ashamed at always having something wrong with me and it took so much effort to just get through a day of college that I built up a shell and withdrew. I was so tired of dealing with tuts, sighs and the accusatory “what have you done to yourself now?” or “you’ve no drive or motivation”. I mistook all the “noise” in my head for college being too advanced for me at times because I wasn’t picking up even basic stuff. I was just trying to get to the end of the day and hope that I’ll get some sleep so that I can get through the next one. My head was not in a good place. When I should have been talking about how I was struggling I was instead thinking I was a burden and a hassle. With a “clear” head I can see that was the totally wrong way to be. I know now that I was depressed and like a lot of my experience with Crohn’s Disease I can look back and see where things really went off kilter.
I was eventually diagnosed with ileocolonic Crohn’s Disease at the end of 2006 after a very intense period of being severely ill that resulted in emergency surgery for a fistula and an abscess. I was a mess internally. My liver wasn’t working properly and my small bowel had stopped working completely. One of the doctors explained that my body had been effectively poisoning itself and judging by the state of things it had been happening for a long time. I lost over 85 pounds in a few weeks. I looked like a skeleton with skin stretched over it. The first time I tried to have a shower in hospital I banged my head off the wall because I didn’t have the strength to support my head when I tilted it back under the water.
I gained some of the weight back. It took a while – over 10 years – but I got into remission and then into deep remission.
It’s an understatement to say it drastically altered the course of my life. I was forced to drop out of a postgraduate course and leave a city I absolutely loved living in. It’s been quite an experience learning to manage a chronic illness while trying to work and have a life outside of both of those things.
But I’m still here and some of my best stories have come from my experiences with Crohn’s Disease. If anything I end up posting here helps someone else with Crohn’s or raises awareness of the disease in general then that will be fantastic.