Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crohn's Disease: My Story

I am currently a 25 year old male who suffers from Crohn's disease. My diagnosis came in December 2011 after not knowing for a few weeks what I had. I don't know how typical my story is but I was diagnosed with bronchitis first in around late October early November of 2011. I took Biaxin, Prednisone, and Levaquin. I actually had been having some diarrhea a little before this but started to notice I was very tired and weak. If I had to guess how long I had diarrhea I would say 3 weeks but I thought it was due to the medication. I can still remember eating a calzone while on Biaxin and having to hurl. I had no idea what was going on with my body. In February of 2011 my GI believed I had irritable bowel syndrome. Apparently there was some small liquid in my abdominal area but then went away after doing various tests. I started to get very sick right before Thanksgiving. I was amazed that I had done well on one my exams despite feeling at death's door. 

I traveled home from graduate school on November 23, 2011 and had an appointment to see my doctor. That morning when I had to drive to the airport I could barely get out of bed (I am not quite sure how I got to the airport). When I returned home I went to a local diner and ate some grilled cheese but had a hard time eating since I didn't feel too hungry. It was noticed that I had lost significant weight even though I hadn’t even noticed. It was odd because I have usually been on the thin side my whole life. When I went to the doctor he told me I was anemic and needed to immediately check myself into the hospital. We were able to do a direct admit which was very nice and the hospital was very close. Before this time period the previous time I was in the hospital was 1986 (which is when I was born). I remember being in the doctor's office scared since I had no idea what was going on with my body. When I was admitted to the hospital I was only 125 lbs (I am normally 145). I am 5'11 though which made me skins and bones almost. In the hospital I was hooked up to an IV and given fluids. The IV is a pain though if you had to go to the bathroom because it goes wherever you go (your little buddy). Once the fluids started going through my body I felt better. The doctor on my case ran different blood tests and stool tests and suggested it was a gastro issue. A resident suggested it was celiac disease.

 While doctors were diagnosing my case I was actually resting which I wasn't use to since I was in graduate school. The hospital was actually a pretty good experience. The food was pretty good and the menu had more options than I thought it would. For Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital I ate chicken fingers with mashed potatoes. Over time my appetite gradually came back. While I was in the hospital they put me in Flagyl which did make the food taste funny but after a while I was taken off this. The staff at the hospital was very nice and I felt like a prince being able to hit a button and have someone wait on me. The only thing I didn't enjoy was getting blood tests every morning at around 4 or 5 in the morning. A nurse would come in turn on this low level light and draw blood. Usually after this I would watch the daybreak news and fall back asleep until my parents came to visit. I am usually a night owl and was able to catch old reruns of the Cosby show at 1:30 in the morning. Anyway I was released from the hospital a week or so after being admitted and told I would need a colonscopy. I never had one before and it wasn't too bad. The worst part is drinking this liquid the night before (known as the prep) and you have to drink a lot of it.  The actual procedure is a piece of cake. After the colonoscopy my GI said that the inflammation looked like it was Crohn's disease. I had never heard of Crohn's disease. In light of this news I begin researching everything I could about it. My doctor told me to go on a good fat/bad fat diet which allowed me to eat whatever I wanted to put weight back on. At first it was fun going to Whataburger, McDonalds, and every fast food place under the sun. Although, after a while eating so well does got old. One of the reasons I was eating so much was due the Prednisone creates an appetite. The only other side effects I noticed was little bit of a moon face and some slight hair thinning.

I went off Prednisone over spring break and started to have a flare up again. I was fine in February and had my first rectal exam (I passed out by the way) and no blood was seen which according to my GI meant my Crohn’s was in remission. My doctor put me back on Prednisone and talked about going to a biologic (Humira) after I tapered off the Prednisone.

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