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person opening present with intestines coming out of it

How did I get Crohn’s?

It’s not like a present. You don’t ask Santa for it when it comes time for the holidays. I was literally having the time of my life in college. Was I shady? Yep. Was I “living it up?” You better believe it. I wasn’t doing anything that any other normal college kid wouldn’t do. I was away from home for the first time, and I was finding myself. I was experimenting with different social groups and really understanding time management. One day I felt like a million bucks. The next day, I felt like nothing.

The first signs of Crohn’s felt like food poisoning

I really didn’t feel good at the bar the night before. I would never go to the bathroom in a dirty college bar, but I had no choice. I thought maybe I had food poisoning. That night, I had an accident in my bed. I haven’t had that since I was a small child. I knew something just wasn’t right.

So how did I get Crohn’s? Was it really drinking? I was drinking bottled beer, and compared to most college kids, it was not that much.  Did I get Crohn’s from poor food choices and drink choices? I don’t know?

I did get Listeria at the end of my senior year. The only reason why I got it was because I had already been diagnosed with Crohn’s. That means that the Listeria did not cause the Crohn’s, but the immune-compromised state that my body was in caused it.

Is Crohn’s genetic?

I have read in a lot of places that IBD has a correlation with people who are Jewish. I am Jewish. I wondered if anyone in my family besides me had Crohn’s? I did ask many of my family members, but we could not think of anyone. It came clear that my first cousin on my father’s side has ulcerative colitis.

My parents had told me that when I was a baby, I got really sick to my stomach. They ended up taking me down to the Children’s hospital. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me and soon I became symptom-free. Early in the summer of 2006, I remember having to stop at a store to run to use the bathrooms. This happened usually in the morning, but it was very odd for me. My mother wanted me to go see my primary doctor before I went back to college, but I didn’t listen to her. Would things have been different? Who knows?

Accepting Crohn’s and a new perspective

I guess I have to accept that things happen for a reason. I will admit that I was not the nicest person before I got sick. I was stuck up and shady. I really didn’t have the patience for anyone. After I got sick, it was like I got a whole new perspective on life. I really do appreciate family and friends. I do my best to listen to them and offer any type of advice that they might need. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pinpoint what caused this disease. For now, that might be ok!

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.


  • Matt Nagin moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Paul.

    Crohn’s is indeed common among people of Jewish descent. I am also Jewish and many of my family members (2 brothers, and grandpa) have been diagnosed with Crohn’s as well.

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    1 month ago

    The big question, right? I often ask myself the same thing. I too was fine one day, and suddenly the next I was deathly ill. I had never been sick a day in my life, and ’til this day I still question how on earth I got this.

    But! I can’t remain focused in the past. I just have to continue looking forward and like you, I have changed and grown so much since my diagnosis.

    I hope you are doing well these days!

    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    1 month ago

    We may never know where we got our Crohn’s, but I appreciate you making a point to say how it has changed you into a more appreciative person, and if you can look at it as a small sliver of positive that came out of the disease, then that is better than nothing!
    I hope you stay well, Paul.

    –Julie (Team Member)

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