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I have Crohn’s

I was 18 years old when I was given my diagnosis for the first time. After some time, and having had several bowel problems, I shyly sought out a doctor in my hometown. It was shortly after I graduated high school and during the time my family was moving.

The experience of literally being probed was traumatic. Just the thought alone as they explain the procedure made me want to run. The first appointment I avoided out of fear. Instead of staying home and taking the medicine for the colonoscopy I went to a friend’s house and had pizza so my mom couldn’t “convince” me to go have it done. It took me time to build up the courage to go through with the colonoscopy.

That first colonoscopy was extremely scary and a bit painful. They do give you sedation but it does not completely put you to sleep. I can remember the pain and seeing the screen showing the inflamed colon. Afterward, the doctor told me I had Crohn’s disease and prescribed some pills. I had no idea what just happened and left thinking it wasn’t a big deal. I had no idea this was the beginning, it was serious, and my life would forever be a rollercoaster.

Today, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s commercials are all over television; and, we can Google anything. When I was diagnosed, I had to go to the library and pull books to research Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. For nearly a decade I carried the index cards from the research I had done at the library outlining the difference between the two until I passed them along someone who had just been diagnosed.

The most embarrassing aspect of Crohn’s disease is needing to know where every public bathroom is located. Everything I did was planned around bathrooms. I couldn’t go out to dinner and then a movie; I had to go to the movie and then dinner in order to get home quickly after dinner; it was embarrassing.

I can’t say which was worse; the physical pain or the psychological damage.

It was unsettling to hear I had a chronic illness which would last for the rest of my life. At only 18 years old I really had no idea how to grasp that concept. At first, I was in denial, I did some research and went on about life; taking the medicine and accepting the pain. I had no idea what this illness could do to me. 

I wouldn’t find out the true extent of my illness until after months of hospital roulette. The first hospitalization was the starting point of bad experiences. Holding on to hope and prayer were the only things that kept me from loosing all sanity during those times when we knew nothing. 

Having my bible by the bedside turned out to be one of the best sources of comfort. The sad thing is that just like prison, life goes on and people move on; I lost many friends.