man hiding with his head poking up through a hole

The Hidden Effects of Crohn's Disease

When people look at me, they see a 170 LB man. They see my rosy cheeks, full head of hair, and smiling face.

The physical and emotional scars

What they don’t see is the physical, and emotional scars that Crohn’s has left and continues to leave me.

Most of the time, I don’t remove my shirt in public. I think the only time is when I am going swimming. If you ever had the chance to see my stomach, you would see a huge scar where my colorectal surgeon has performed eleven stomach surgeries. You would see the spot where he placed the ostomy.

You would also see a large scar that is perpendicular to the stomach surgery scars. This scar was due to the removal of my gallbladder. Basically my stomach looks a mess, and every time I look down at the scars, it reminds me of the battle that I have endured.

Cataracts in my eyes

Another hidden effect to Crohn’s is cataracts that have developed in my eyes. My vision has gotten so much worse since I was diagnosed.

I have gone to many optometrists, who have to constantly change my eye prescription. The reason for my wrecked vision is the increased use of steroids. That combined with the changes in other medications has made my vision become dismal. I have arranged to have my cataracts removed in the upcoming year.

The effects on my teeth

Recently, during a routine dental visit, I was told that my teeth were decayed. I was told that it looked like I had a mouth of an eighty-year-old man. How could that be? Yep, you guessed it. Steroids. I had to recently have my wisdom teeth removed to avoid infections in my mouth.

Osteoporosis and kidney stones

Osteoporosis has taken over my body. My bone density exam revealed that I have low calcium between my bones, all caused from steroids needed for me to control my Crohn’s. I take a injection once a year to help fight with Osteoporosis.

Because of the malnutrition in my early years of Crohn’s, I have developed kidney stones. Although they are painful, it is my least of my concerns when it comes to heading to the hospital.

Lucky to be alive after all I have endured

Finally, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think how lucky I am to be alive. To spend three hundred and seventy one straight days in Temple Hospital is unheard of. Many nights, I lie awake, thinking: “Why me?” I also think about how lucky I am to be alive.

Finally I think about what I been through and say, “Could I do this again?I cry at times. I remember the days that seem to repeat over and over. I remember asking the doctors, “Will I ever be able to go home?” I remember the night before I was put on a ventilator. I told my family, “Please let me die, this isn’t worth it anymore.” That thought scares me. I think about it often.

When you look at me, you won’t see the physical or emotional toll that Crohn’s has taken. You will see a happy man. A smile can help cure anybody’s bad day, even if it's my own.

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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.

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