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Venn diagram of whole GI system on the left and large intestine on the right

Crohn’s or Colitis?

I had my first colonoscopy in November of 2006. It seemed pretty routine and my gastroenterologist at the time was convinced that I had Ulcerative Colitis. It was a textbook case, and I was placed on a high dose of steroids and other medication. My condition worsened as the year went on, and I went down to my local hospital to seek out the option of having my colon removed. My colorectal surgeon told me prior to the surgery that he would examine every inch of my small intestine to make sure that I had no signs of Crohn’s. Crohn’s typically can be found in the mouth of a human all the way through the stomach. Ulcerative Colitis is found in the large intestine. So when my surgeon went in and removed my whole large intestine, technically I did not have Ulcerative Colitis any more.

Rushed to surgery

Let’s fast forward to 2009. It was June, about ten weeks from my brother’s wedding. My mother was not happy that he got engaged when I was on a ventilator but that’s a whole other story. I awoke with a sharp pain on my right side. My bowel movements had slowed down, and my stomach was very tender. Two hours later and after a CT scan, I got a call at my house. It was my surgeon and he sounded very concerned. He said that I was due in surgery within the hour, as there was a pinhole in my small intestine that needed to be repaired.

Differing opinions

After I awoke and came to, I was told that I had a foot of my small intestine taken out. Does that mean that I technically had Crohn’s at that given point? That’s a question I thought was pretty easy to answer, but it seemed that my colorectal surgeon and Gastroenterologist disagreed on this topic.

So I started to question who was actually right. After a few weeks, I came to the realization that it didn’t matter who was correct. I was being treated with the same medication regardless, so basically it comes down to a name… that is all.

So how do I declare myself? What do I say when people ask what I have? I just tell them that I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Usually, that gives them enough information to figure it out. People categorize IBD with some sort of stomach issue, and for me, that is good enough. I don’t usually go into the whole song and dance unless people ask me.

My care is all that matters

A few years ago, I switched my GI doctor to the top one in the region I live in. He treats me for Crohn’s and swears I have it. I don’t have time to argue with him and go back and forth. He is in charge of my care, and as long as he keeps me in remission, I don’t care what he calls my disease. My family also knows that it doesn’t matter anymore, same with my friends. Most of all, what helps me sleep better at night is that fact that I can gain remission.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • IBDfighter
    1 year ago

    Oh thanks for sharing. I have been told if you have bright red bleeding with BM ,it’s mostly ulcerative colitis. In most Crohns patients they have blockages & vomiting, as the intestines get constricted anywhere in it’s length. That seems reasonably right. Ulceration in any part of body results in bleeding. Wish you didn’t have to loose your colon for a Crohn’s diagnosis in the end. But that’s how destiny works . Hope you are doing good and able to manage your Crohns at present. Wish you well.

  • MatthewD
    1 year ago

    Hi Paul,
    I was diagnosed with UC, had surgery and then learned I had Crohn’s. You can’t actually have both, and there are many of us that were diagnosed with UC first and learned later we have Crohn’s instead. If there was the disease in your small bowel, I’m surprised there is debate actually. I now say I have IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease because many people have misconceptions about Crohn’s and UC. I can then give a short 30-second answer as to what IBD is (an autoimmune disease in my digestive tract), and avoid any misconceptions.

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