After leading a very healthy life with few ailments bar the odd cough and cold, things changed for me in 2008. I was entertaining in my home and had a long day of cooking and preparing food for my friends. Once the evening had come to a close and everyone had retired feeling satisfied, I deservedly sat down with a glass of wine to relax and watch some TV. However, my peace and relaxation was disturbed rather abruptly when I felt a gurgling sensation in my stomach and I rushed to the bathroom to vomit. I felt relieved but wondered why it happened so suddenly. I immediately thought I had somehow given myself food poisoning and felt guilty. What if my friends were ill on their way home. After clarification that everyone was fine, I just relaxed and assumed it was a bug I had caught.
I had the worse night ever that night, repeatedly having to run to the bathroom to vomit. It was literally water which was coming up and it was starting to hurt to even bring that up. The following day I rang the health help line. They asked if I had pain, which I did, but it didn’t hurt too much. They informed me I should to go see my doctor immediately. Managing to secure an appointment for an hour later, I slowly walked there, feeling very weak. After examination it was concluded that I had a kidney infection I had and perhaps caught a tummy bug also. I was given antibiotics and so went home happy knowing that it would be cleared soon.
Four days had passed when the pain was getting worse. I contacted the doctor again and at this point I couldn’t even eat. Nothing was staying down and I had also suffered with severe diarrhoea. I contacted the help line again as was worried. I was advised to visit the emergency room to rule out appendicitis. After a few hours of hanging around, I finally saw a doctor who told me that it wasn’t my appendix, but it could be an ovarian cyst. I was to return to my own doctor again to see if she wanted to send me for tests. In the meantime if the pain got worse over night, I should return to the emergency room as it could be a burst appendix. At this point I couldn’t understand why the doctors couldn’t even give me a proper diagnosis. The following day I returned to my doctor and explained the situation, she insisted that I go for an ultra sound on my ovaries. I did so, but it proved to show nothing again. They informed me that I should return again in three weeks to see if there were any changes.
I waited and after another week, I couldn’t take anymore. I had lost over two stones in weight in just over two weeks and I was looking like a corpse, just skin and bone and I was so incredibly weak. I decided enough was enough and so I contacted my work and asked to use the private medical insurance which they provided. Within two days I had a referral to a gynaecologist who sent me for various tests to see if there was a cyst there. As the tests came back showing no evidence of a cyst, she had planned on performing a laparoscopy on me to see what was going on inside and a surgeon would be on hand should she need to remove my appendix. I met with the surgeon before the planned laparoscopy. He was a colon specialist and wanted to examine me prior to the surgery.
When I met with the colorectal surgeon, I could tell immediately he had an inkling what was wrong. He sent me for a CT scan an MRI and a colonoscopy to determine that I did in fact have Crohn’s Disease. When he informed me, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know much about it and naturally I started to worry. He quickly reassured me that it could be treated with medication; however I would be on the medication most likely for the rest of my life. I didn’t like the sound of that, but I knew I had no choice. I left feeling relieved to finally know what was wrong but saddened by the fact that my life would now depend on me taking medication to survive. However, it could have been a lot worse and so I decided that a positive attitude would be needed to get on with things and to get it under control. For the best part of two and a half years following my diagnosis, I had flare ups at various intervals. I did manage to keep a positive mind though and kept telling myself that I would get to a remission stage at some point. Determination was taking me over. I took my medication as directed, which consisted of steroids and anti-inflammatory tablets. I also changed my diet by omitting various foods. I knew immediately what foods I’d have to stop eating once I felt pain in my side after eating them.
In 2010, I lost my job in the recession. It was only then, I finally stopped getting flare ups and that my health seemed to improve greatly. I realised that I had been under tremendous stress in my job and in my opinion, I believe it could have been the reason for me getting the flare ups in the first place. I have been in remission and medication free since July 2011. That was the last time I saw my consultant and while he’d normally want to see me every six months, he was so pleased with my progress that he gave me an ‘open invitation’. I was very pleased with this as I now know that keeping myself stress free is definitely helping me to stay in remission and lead a happy and healthy life. While, I know that my Crohn’s could flare up at any time again, I’m determined to stay positive as I do believe a positive outlook also helps to keep it at bay.
It took so many tests and various medical opinions for me to get a correct diagnosis but the reasons for this were explained. The symptoms of Crohn’s are so similar to that of both appendicitis and ovarian cysts which was why they had to be ruled out first.
While there has been no proven reason or cure for Crohn’s Disease just yet, I definitely believe that stress is the cause for so many illnesses in people. So, if you’re feeling stressed out in the workplace, I’d suggest shopping around for a new job. You might just save yourself some unwelcome health problems in the future.
Some common symptoms of Crohn’s Disease:
Loss of appetite
Rapid weight loss
Pain in your side
Some foods which I had to omit from my diet:
Sweet Corn, Parsnips, Rice, Tomatoes, Cereal, Brown Bread