Living with Crohn’s disease is no joke. Crohn’s disease is chronic inflammation of the GI tract. It is most commonly found in the intestines. However, it can even affect your eyes, skin and joints. There are several signs and symptoms that you might have if you have Crohn’s disease. Some of them are very similar to IBS so seeing a doctor is a must if you have any sort of symptoms like these.
When I was 19 I got really, really sick and didn’t know what was wrong. After going to the doctors for a month I was finally admitted to the hospital because they realized that I was bleeding internally but did not know anything else. After a bunch of tests they found that I had Crohn’s Disease. I spent five days in the hospital getting better and learning about a new lifestyle that I was going to have to start living.
This lifestyle included a lot of trial and error with different foods that I can eat and what I can do. Eating a very well balanced diet and trying to eat clean as much as I can is a must. Even though due to having Crohn’s disease I have to watch how much fiber and veggies that I eat. I have to be able to balance the healthy stuff with the things that I can actually eat which makes it that much tricker. I also have to keep a lot of my food as bland as possible since some spices and things don’t tend to sit well.
When I was first diagnosed, no one really knew all that much about what it was. However, almost everyone that I talk to at least know one person that is affected by this disease. The crazy part is that they do not know what causes it but they are getting better at treating it.
Personally, I feel as though I have it a lot easier than a lot of people with the disease. At first I was on medication that after one year made me really sick and I developed pancreatitis while on it. After that my only option was to start an immunosuppressant. After I started this treatment I have only had one flare up. For me, the treatment has been so successful that I sometimes forget that I have Crohn’s disease and I do not do everything that I should be doing. Things like watching what I eat and really making sure that I do not push myself too far.
The only time that I have had a flare up in the past 9 years is when I was training for bikini competitions. I was pushing myself super hard in the gym. I was eating a crazy diet and was taking a bunch of supplements. This was definitely something that was not the greatest idea to do. However, I was so blinded by getting the results that I wanted I was willing to do anything I could to get there. My body had other ideas and about a week before my competition, I got extremely sick and was unable to compete. I had done so much to my body and pushed so hard for three months that it took me almost a year to get back to being ok again. I had been training myself the two years prior and then decided to join a large team that was known for the girls that won these competitions. I spent a lot of money and never competed under their team.
I did learn a lot though about how far I can actually push myself and what I can do while having this disease. I think I was to the point where I was so comfortable that this really reminded me that when you have Crohn’s disease just eating the wrong thing can make you have a little flare up. There are definitely certain things that I avoid eating all together and certain things that I avoid if I do not know exactly what is in them.
After I decided that I was done competing, we decided to try and start our family. I was extremely lucky throughout my pregnancy and did not have any issues with the disease. One thing that I think comes along with Crohn’s disease is always being a little more fatigued than most people. When you combine that type of fatigue with pregnancy fatigue sometimes all I could manage to do was to get as much done in a morning that I could before needing to take a nap and take it easy for the rest of the day.
Overall, I know that having a handle on my disease is something that I am very blessed with. There are other people that I know that have chronic pain from this disease every day and cannot seem to escape it or get into any sort of remission. I hope that I am able to really listen to my body and keep it as healthy as possible. Every time I go and see my Chron’s doctor she reminds me that even though I feel great I am feeling great because of our treatment plan. I need to make sure that I stick with what is working and remember how far I can push myself.
I have had Crohn’s disease for 11 years now and have learned a lot about how my body handles this disease. It is a disease that is so different for everyone and is hard for everyone in their own way. Even though it is different for everyone we are all in this together and we have all felt the crazy, uncertain pain that goes along with it. Sometimes even feeling like it is all just in our heads. So for those of you that are suffering I am with you and know that it will get better. And for those of you in remission remember to always be mindful of it.