I thought I was going crazy

I had abdominal pain and diarrhea. The pain was bad. Sometimes it was so bad it would drop me to my knees. But I was poor and no one believed me.

No one was listening to me

Sometimes I was fine. Sometimes I felt bloated or twingy. I knew something was wrong, but no one would listen. Clinic and charity hospital doctors told me I had PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), ectopic pregnancy, that I was overreacting, and that there was nothing wrong with me. Most of the time, when I was seen, my white blood cell count would be high, so they gave me ampicillin. They gave me a lot of ampicillin and kept telling me it was all in my head. I started to believe them.

Living under the black cloud of chronic, uncertain, undiagnosed pain can do terrible things to your self-confidence and sense of worth. The diarrhea didn't help.

Then, yet another round of ampicillin made me turn bright pink, so that treatment was no longer an option. Even I could feel a mass in my lower right abdomen, but still the doctors treated me, a twenty-something female, like the village idiot.

I got mad

As a student at the UW, I took myself to the medical school and begged for someone to examine me. Finally, a female instructor/doctor agreed.

After examining me, she told me to reschedule all of my final exams for the next day and to admit myself into the local hospital.

Three surgeries later, it was decided that my appendix had been leaking into my abdominal cavity for years and that I had, wait for, Crohn's disease.

Since that time, I have had obstructions, resections, and a variety of medications. Currently, my Crohn's is under pretty good control with Humira and 6MP. I watch my portion sizes. I pay attention to what works and what doesn't.

Most important, I know that I deserve to be heard by medical personnel. You do, too.

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