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Living with Crohn’s

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in January, 1983. I had my first of three bowel resections in June of that year. I was twenty-three years old and had a two-year old son.

The disease first presented as an abscess and the doctors initially thought my appendix had burst and rushed me into surgery. It was then they discovered it was Crohn’s and not a burst appendix. At the time, the doctors told me, the disease was not “rare” but “uncommon.”

I had no idea how it would impact my life.

Due to a series of life events (divorce, et al) I was forced into being the sole support for my son. As such, I decided to go to law school. I finished my undergraduate degree in Philosophy by the time I was twenty-eight and then began law school. I completed law school as a single mother with Crohn’s disease at thirty-one years old and began my law practice.

One year after taking the bar exam, and ten years after my first bowel resection, I had my second. I had the surgery on a Monday and was in court the following Monday. I couldn’t stand up straight, I couldn’t walk very well, and my mom had to drive me, but I made it work.

During this time, I met my husband, to whom I’ve been married for 23 years. He’s amazing and helps in any and every way he can. After we married, and almost thirteen years to the date of my last surgery, I had my third bowel resection. Instead of a twelve-inch scar down my abdomen, it was only five inches. The recovery was much quicker and I was able to get back to work in four days. It’s been thirteen years since that surgery.

Life is challenging

I’ve realized that Crohn’s is no respecter of persons. I was very successful in my career and held significant leadership positions in my field, but the Crohn’s was always there. After my third resection we found Humira and I lasted on that drug until the very recent past. Humira really kept the disease in check until, just this last summer, due to several family crises, my Crohn’s decided to flare in spectacular fashion.

I have been struggling with lower bowel strictures which have caused no end of embarrassment, accidents (in public), lots of laundry and total misery. I’ve had four stricture dilations and anticipate more.

I’ve realized that living which Crohn’s, the pain, constant fear of leaving home because of the perpetual accidents, and fear of food, have proven to be the challenge of my life. I work full-time, teach in an adjunct capacity at our university law school, and have two grandchildren living with me full-time. Buckling under to Crohn’s just isn’t an option.

Crohn’s disease does not define me.

It is not who I am, it’s something I have. I have to deal with it and sometimes it’s totally miserable, but I’m not going to let it stop me. Everyone has some kind of problem, so I don’t feel like I’m unique. Realizing there are others with the same experience has made dealing with my issues a little easier.

Crohn’s can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to limit who we are or what we can do. In a strange way I’m grateful because it’s taught me things I’m not sure I would have learned in the last thirty-seven years I’ve been dealing with this demon. But, I’m truly hoping for a cure, and sooner rather than later.

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.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    4 months ago

    Truly inspiring. You are one tough cookie and reading about all you have gone through and all you have accomplished simultaneously is simply amazing.

    I hope you are finding relief these days. Thank you for sharing and for being a part of our community.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    4 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Lori, and I am SO happy you said you are “grateful” as I, too, have found ways to be grateful for this disease and the gifts it has brought me despite it providing its share of setbacks.

    Also, congratulations on all that you accomplished while living with a chronic illness and being a single mom–you go girl! You are a true Warrior, and we are so happy to have you as part of our community.

    Sending you well wishes and hope you continue to thrive for yourself and your family!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • crystal.harper moderator
    5 months ago

    Lori, you are such an amazing person and your story is inspiring! You should be so proud of all that you’ve accomplished, Crohn’s or not! I love that you don’t let this keep you down. It proves how far a positive mindset can take someone. I’m wishing for a cure as well. Hoping for continued success in all you do!

  • Kelly C (#purpleproject) moderator
    5 months ago

    Lori, thank you so much for sharing your story with us!!

    Having that supportive family member, like your husband, is truly the biggest part of learning how to cope with your disease/health. He sounds like a great man.

    Again, thank you for sharing part of your story with us. Sounds like you have a great attitude to help fight this disease with.

    Kelly, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Team Member

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