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Every Journey Begins With a Single Step

In spring of 2005 I was finishing up my junior year of high school and getting excited about my senior year and what was to come for me in my future. I had so many positive things in my life and I was so excited for what was to come. I started to see symptoms in May 2005, and I passed it off as stress going into senior year and that it would go away. Sure enough it didn’t, and my parents started noticing. My mom made an appointment for me and we went in to see my regular doctor.

The first thing we tried was to take me off of an antibiotic I had been on for a long time to see if my symptoms disappeared. They did not change. Then my doctor tried a handful of blood tests, including allergies. Nothing there. He referred me to a GI specialist who had me undergo even more tests a couple months later. No answers. He exhausted all options, and told me he wanted me to have a colonoscopy. As a 17 year old that was definitely not what I wanted to do, so I refused. My parents wanted me to have one done, but I had no interest in doing so.

Eventually, things were so bad that I decided a colonoscopy was the right choice. I was miserable, stressed, and sick. My doctor did blood tests every time I went in to see him and my iron count was consistently low and he diagnosed me with anemia. I took an iron pill for a few months. In January 2006 I decided being sick was getting old and I told my mom to schedule a colonoscopy.

I had to go to school the day I was “prepping”, so I drank my broth and ate my green Jello like a champ. The next day when we went in for the procedure I begged them to get it done as soon as possible because I was starving and ready to eat again. The procedure was quick, and in recovery my GI specialist told me I have Crohn’s disease. I remember feeling relieved because I knew what I was dealing with, however I didn’t realize at that time the impact that diagnosis would have on my life.

I was prescribed a pill for Crohn’s and was on it for a good 8 years. I found out recently that the pill really did nothing for me besides masking my symptoms; it did not help with inflammation at all. I was getting worse on my pills, so I eventually weaned off of them. Knowing what I know now I would have NEVER done this, even if I had a doctor’s permission. I didn’t take medications for 1-2 years or so.

In summer of 2015 I was noticing severe abdominal pain. So much so that I could not do anything when I got home from work. I would eat dinner and then lay on the couch. I got very concerned, and I made an appointment with a GI specialty clinic. I couldn’t get in until later in the summer, so I had to suffer through a month and a half of horrid abdominal pain and dreadful symptoms. I was also getting married in August 2015, so I was bound and determined not to let Crohn’s affect my wedding day.

I had my appointment in early August and immediately she told me she wanted to see new pictures of my colon, so I scheduled my second colonoscopy of my life 12 days before I got married. They could not get their scope into my small intestine at all due to inflammation, so they scheduled me for a gastro MRI the same day. We found that my inflammation was at its worst, and I had to revamp my medication schedule, which is what I’m on now.

In the past year I have “come out” with Crohn’s and have been public about what I deal with on a daily basis. It has helped me to come to terms with the fact that Crohn’s is part of who I am, but it does not define who I am. Being open about Crohn’s honestly has been the best part of my journey. I am educating my friends and family about my disease. When I back out of a social event last minute, they understand.

If I could go back in time, I would have been more honest about my condition much earlier. I would have told employers, and friends, and family. I have been amazed at the support I have received!

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

    Love that you “came out.” I know for me and my journey with Crohn’s “coming out” to my family and friends was the best decision. The support you receive is amazing. I even started a blog. I wish I would have been more open sooner.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • SusanHU
    2 years ago

    Hi ljmthompson,

    Thank you for sharing your story with our community. We’ve heard from many that “coming out” when it comes to your chronic illness can be difficult but also helpful when navigating friends and family and IBD. It sounds like you’ve been able to ask for and receive support, which is fantastic!

    Keep us updated on your progress and know we’re here to listen if you need it!

    Susan
    (InflammatoryBowelDisease.net Team Member)

  • Crohnsnomore
    2 years ago

    Your post was almost identical to mine back in the early 70’s. So little information on Crohn’s and doctors didn’t know as much as now. It was a subject that was avoided and misunderstood. You had to suffer pretty much alone. I’m so glad for the improvement today. Good for you for bringing your case to the light. You go, girl!

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