I was diagnosed when I was just 9 years old! And believe it or not, my family thought I was faking at first. They thought I just didn’t want to go to bed. But in reality, I was in a lot of pain. After countless tests, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Even though one mystery was solved, there were definitely a lot more questions. Why did this happen? What do we do now?
After being diagnosed, I was put on different medications and changed my diet (this is the reason I do not like chocolate anymore), but was still having flare-ups. It continued to get worse, to the point where I needed surgery at just 13 years old. After surgery, it seemed like everything returned to normal. I had no pain and felt like myself again. With my sister’s help, I became involved in fitness and participated in track in high school. I felt great, and thought that Crohn’s disease was in the past.
However, this would be my first of three surgeries.
Fast forward to my freshman year of college, about four weeks before finals: I woke up not feeling great, but thought it was just an upset stomach. I took some ibuprofen and went to class — but by the time I got there I was in so much pain. I ended up in the hospital, where I found out the Crohn’s had reared its ugly head. I was in the hospital for two and a half weeks, with a second surgery under my belt. Luckily, I had great support from my GI doctor, my surgeon, family, friends, and my professors at school. I was able to get back to “normal” after that episode. With a team behind me and new medications, I was in remission again!
I wasn’t going to let Crohn’s stop me — I got right back into my routine of school, work, and fitness. I ran my first half marathon a year after my surgery! I became a group fitness instructor! I graduated from Slippery Rock University and the University of Pittsburgh! I started my first job at the Children’s Hospital YMCA! While I had health struggles along the way, they did not put me down for too long. So for the most part, I was doing well.
And then, six years later, I was knocked down again. I was teaching tons of group fitness classes, working one job, and about to begin another, and had recently gotten engaged. The stress was through the roof! I started having horrible pain and was rushed to the hospital, where I had my third surgery. I hope for that to be the final one! But with the nature of this disease, no one can say for sure.
Fast forward to now: I am currently in remission and determined to not let Crohn’s disease keep me from my goals. I am on medication, limiting my stress (as best as I can), watching my diet, and staying active. In fact, I will be running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 3, and many 5Ks this summer. I have been through a lot of battles and struggles with Crohn’s disease, but I have always come back stronger.
Read more about Crohn’s disease and its symptoms and treatments here. (link to part 1)