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My Illness: Crohn's Disease

My Illness: Crohn's Disease
Writer, 14

When I was about 10 years old, I began to get stomach cramps. I didn't think much of them, so I tried to ignore them. But then I started losing weight, and I had no appetite, so I went to the doctor. I was tested for some diseases, but the tests came back negative. I was referred to a gastroenterologist. I was put in the hospital for a colonoscopy, and the doctors discovered that I had Crohn's disease.

This disease causes ulcers to form inside the bowel, colon, large and small intestine, or stomach. It can cause stomach cramps, growth stunting, weight loss, loss of appetite, and increased tiredness. I had all of these.

I wasn't very informed about the disease. I had no idea what it was about, and I thought I was going to die. But I was assured that I wouldn't. My mother and I joined the Crohn's Association, where I met my present best friend, Lizzie*. We had the same thing, only her condition was a little worse than mine.

Over a period of two years, I was put on steroids and other anti-inflammatory medications. Since I began taking them four years ago, I haven't been able to have one free day off from taking them. I will probably be taking them for the rest of my life. I also must have at least one blood test per month. I underwent a sigmoidoscopy and an endoscopy, as well as two nuclear testing procedures. All of them were horrible, but I made it. Before an operation, I had to have either a 60ml mixture of water and salt, or an enema. I have had two enemas, and after the first time drinking that disgusting drink, I swore never again!

Then the real blow happened. I started to get a sore bum cheek, down near the opening of the anus. I couldn't walk until the day I was examined, and the doctors found a perianal abscess. It was agony having examinations, and it was hard to walk around and run a lot. I had an operation, in which the doctors drained the abscess, and we thought that it was all over.

The abscess came back, and this time it was so excruciating that I couldn't pass any poo for nine days. Any longer and I could have been seriously ill. I was examined, and pus came out everywhere. I was given an enema (which hurt like hell—I screamed my head off) and was relieved.

Another operation with a new doctor (who is fantastic) resulted in the doctor cutting part of the anus opening away to allow drainage. This was back in January, and we all thought that was it.

But sadly, no, today pus is still forming and being passed regularly, and it is thought that the problem has not quite been fixed. I have to go back to him to discuss whether to go ahead with another operation, which means inserting a 'ceton ring,' an object that passes through the abscess cavity and the outside of the rear end, to allow clear drainage for it to dry out.

I am not looking forward to the operation, but in a way I really am, because maybe it means that I will be able to finally be normal and do everything everyone else can do without worrying. If I sound like a whiner, I am sorry, but even though I am aware that there are many worse cases out there (which I'm truly sorry about), I am still pretty sick and down in the dumps, and it doesn't mean that I should be happy with my problems.

Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001