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The Chronic Crohn’s Life

Hi! My name is Patrick and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was in college at the age of 19. It had a devastating affect on me physically, emotionally, and academically.

I was diagnosed a year after my mother had passed away and believe the stress of experiencing that may have aggravated the disease and sped up its effects. In any case, I went from being a Dean’s List/Honor Roll student to being placed on academic probation. After two years of hell, I woke up one day and just left college. I was exhausted, anemic, weighed less than 100 pounds, and depressed. I never filed for medical leave or went through any formal process – I just left. This was a mistake and would come back to haunt me.

I eventually had to have 2 feet of my ileum removed as well as half of my bladder (it had been severely damaged by a fistula). After my surgery, I adopted a new lifestyle and took up Yoga and began a religious physical fitness regiment. I went into a 20 year med-free remission and eventually returned to college to complete my degree.

I became a music teacher and in my state (New Jersey) you can obtain a teacher’s certificate by going through the “alternate route” process. This means you earn a certification while working as a teacher. I was working in a district that was all alternative and special education. I taught music to children with autism; children with physical disabilities; high school kids with behavioral classifications; and high school kids from at risk inner-city backgrounds. I am a great teacher and was highly effective.

The problem was, the state told me my college GPA was too low for the alternate route requirement. I appealed to the state explaining that when I was just a sophomore (and young) I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. I also had letters of support from my district superintendent as well as principals, teachers, and students. The state denied my appeal and told me I could not become a teacher unless I went back to school and received a Master’s.

Well, I don’t have the money for a Master’s Degree. This was very upsetting to me. Who knew Crohn’s Disease would effect me professionally? To make matters worse, I had a flare up in the midst of my appeal (I’m pretty sure it was caused by stress) and had to go back on meds for the first time in 20 years.

I have re-routed my career but I think my experience is the result of people not understanding what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. I’m mad at the state, but I’m also mad at my University because I never received any advice or guidance when I was sick or when I returned.

I won’t let this stop me though. In fact it’s inspired me. I still teach music and do private lessons. I workout religiously 3 days a week (Tuesday morning I did 2.5 miles in 20 minuets and then did an hour of Yoga) and will not let Crohn’s define me.

I think we must always remain positive. That’s the key.

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

Comments

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    7 months ago

    Your story really resonated with me. Despite all that you have been through, all the hardship, (which was quite severe), you stand tall and unhardened. Many people would allow their hearts to turn to stone from all the trials, and in turn live life in anger. But to me it sounds like you live with light, love and freedom. And I think it is absolutely beautiful.

    Keep teaching music! Art is so important in this world.

    Wishing you the best, always!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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