Diagnoses: Crohn’s Disease
Diagnosed: November 2013
Symptoms: Weight loss, excruciating abdominal pain, constipation, nausea
I was in my 3rd semester of grad school & my assistantship required me to administer several tests for hours at a time. I was in pain for about 95% of the semester & urgent care meds gave me no relief. Finally, I went to the ER after class one night and was admitted. I spent a week in the hospital before having a colonoscopy that eventually confirmed my diagnosis. I had my first Remicade in the hospital before being discharged. Fast forward a few weeks later (December 4), I returned to the ER in more excruciating pain. They admitted immediately & a drip with pain meds. Morphine gave no relief so they knew something wasn’t right.
Over the course of the next 20 days, I had surgery to remove a portion of my large intestine, got a bad infection that caused me to be septic, had a surgery to place an ileostomy, spent 2 nights in ICU, and almost coded while in there.
Finally, on Christmas Eve, I was discharged with my ileostomy; I was several pounds lighter, with an open wound & wound vac, and much uncertainty. I had gotten used to emptying my bag, but changing it made me nervous. Because of the wound vac, home health nurses changed it at first, but I quickly learned how and became comfortable doing it.
I returned to school in January with my bag and a little more confidence. I became really good & fast at changing it. I recorded myself for the sake of memories and even named my stoma like I had seen in a couple YouTube videos. My doctor confirmed that in June, my intestines had healed enough to function correctly. My ileostomy was reversed, and I was discharged after a brief recovery stay. I kept up with all remicade infusions and doctor appointments, even switching doctors when I moved for my internship.
I recently switched to Stelara because Remicade was causing me to flare up with psoriasis of my skin and scalp. I started going to the pharmacy to have them give my injection, but since I’ve moved, I’ve gotten used to self-injecting. It’s a struggle that I definitely wasn’t ready for, but I learned in the process just how much I’m capable of. I couldn’t see myself even sticking my finger let alone sticking a needle in my leg. But I did it.