A girl and her intestines.
I see a lot of people have their Crohn’s disease stories posted, so I thought I’d add mine to the pile.
I started experiencing symptoms when I was in the third grade. My stomach hurt frequently, but my mom thought I made it up so as to stay home from school (one school year, I missed over sixty days). She would take me to the doctor, but unfortunately for me, she went in with this mindset and didn’t mind showing it. So naturally, the doctor didn’t believe me, either. This continued until I was around fifteen or sixteen, then my symptoms became much, much worse. The stomach cramps became intense; the pain became so bad it made me nauseous, dizzy and sweaty. It’s the worst pain I can imagine. After seeing me drop to the floor in the middle of Wal-Mart due to stomach pains, my mom finally started to understand. Shortly after, I became sick at school. Feeling nauseous, I walked to the bathroom; on the way, my vision went black and I nearly passed out. I made it to the bathroom and sat down on the floor; after a few minutes, my vision came back. I was slightly terrified.
I went to the doctor, and was referred to a GI. She ordered a colonoscopy and an upper GI. These tests revealed nothing. At that time, I started losing weight. I’m 5’2 and usually stay at around 97 lbs, but I dropped to 91 lbs. Typically, that amount of a loss wouldn’t be an issue, but since I’m already so small, my doctor was extremely worried. We moved on to the pill cam, which showed Crohn’s disease throughout my entire small intestine. The doctor called with this news on December 6th of 2008. Immediately, I was put on Prednisone.
My symptoms became worse again. For a few months, I had a constant (although mild) stomach ache, with serious attacks more frequently than before. Prednisone side-effects stepped in to make matters worse; I slept maybe two hours every three nights and eventually began hallucinating. I ate constantly (my weight went up quite easily) and I looked like a chipmunk. I talked so fast I got out of breath and had to sit down. And on and on with that nonsense. When the hallucinations began (they weren’t serious - I often heard a sort of background noise, like a TV was left on in the next room, but when I went to look for it, there was nothing, and the noise stopped) my GI took me off the Prednisone a little bit faster.
Shortly after I started Prednisone, I also began 6-MP. Shortly after that, I switched to methotrexate injections. I can’t swallow pills, which as you can imagine, is extremely inconvenient when you’re being given nine pills a day. My GI understood this (her husband had difficulty swallowing pills, also) and knew it wasn’t by choice. Her PA seemed to think I simply didn’t want to do it, but that’s a different story.
All of this happened in the middle of my junior year of high school. I was in no state to attend school, so I switched to the Home Bound program for the second semester. I met with my teachers outside of school once a week. The downside of this was that I could only take two classes instead of four, and I was already behind. It’s hard to keep up when you miss as much school as I did. At times, feeling like someone had just shoved a knife in my stomach outweighed doing homework.
By the time my senior year started, I was off Prednisone and only taking methotrexate (and folic acid, of course). I was somewhat stable, which was good - I was expected to take eight classes and make up about six additional credits. I somehow managed to do that, and graduated on time in 2010.
About a year and a half to two years ago, my dad dropped me from his insurance because I hadn’t gone to college right away (mostly because I had been told I wouldn’t be able to graduate and therefore hadn’t applied or even taken the ACTs yet). At about the same time, my GI left. I kept paying for the methotrexate, but when my prescription ran out, I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor to get more refills. This was complicated by the fact that not only would I have to go to the GI - I’d also have to go to the GP to get referred to a new GI. I talked to my dad, and was basically assured that he would be getting me put back on his insurance soon. Well, it took him a while.
In the time that I have gone untreated, my symptoms have become fairly intense. I’ve been having serious pains at least once a week. It happened three times last Monday, actually. I have milder stomach aches several times throughout the day. Fatigue is a big issue for me, as well. I’ve actually had to lie down on the floor at work to catch my breath. Nausea and stiff fingers also come and go. The worst part about it all is the unpredictability; sometimes I can’t leave the house because I felt a twinge in my stomach and it might turn into something serious. I need to stay near a bathroom (preferably my own) and I certainly can’t drive while in that much pain.
In March, I finally got insurance again and made an appointment with a GP, who then referred me to a GI. Her office called a few days ago and scheduled a colonoscopy for June 13th. I’m so excited to be treated. Here’s to remission!