To kick-off my column for IBD News Today, I’ll begin with the first of a four-part series about Crohn’s disease basics from my point of view and my experiences. I’d like to talk about the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease, receiving your IBD diagnosis and how I dealt with that news, as well as the medications I’ve tried, and, all that goes with these crappy topics.
Before my diagnosis, I was like anyone else, oblivious to things I didn’t know existed. I found numerous differential diagnoses and things that “could be” causing problems, leaving my symptoms and issues a mystery to me and my medical team.
When people ask “What happened?” or “How did your Crohn’s start?” I stay 100% honest and tell them I was seeing blood when I went to the bathroom. It began suddenly and, truth be told, it was scary. Something was wrong and any symptoms before this went unnoticed. I thought I suffered from hemorrhoids, but there was never any pain, at least not in the beginning.
Not everyone will suffer the same symptoms as me, and I am not here to diagnose anyone else. These are just my personal experiences within my Crohn’s journey. To be fair, I have not had the worst luck with my disease thus far. Others have had much harder struggles and their Crohn’s is much worse than mine, hence my column’s title, It Could Be Worse. I think of all the warriors and I wish them luck.
The symptoms I suffered from came on suddenly, and they continue to worsen to this day. As previously mentioned, I began seeing blood in the toilet, alternating from black blood (older blood, upper GI blood), to red blood (newer blood, lower GI blood), and sometimes there would be a jelly-like substance (normal within the bowel to help lubrication.) I also began to suffer from diarrhea (a Type 6/7 on the Bristol Stool Chart.) My Crohn’s, well, it causes me severe, chronic, painful diarrhea. Every. Single. Day. For. 3. Years.
Before this, I never had bathroom issues. I ate what I wanted. I drank often. I took NSAIDS for repeat migraines and I smoked cigarettes. (A BIG NO-NO with Crohn’s.) I stopped both, of course. I had no symptoms until Crohn’s suddenly took over my life.
After the bleeding began, I had a perianal abscess develop with an “Indolent Fissure” that led to an ER visit, and emergency surgery on my bottom, six weeks recovery time. Then, I had to have it cut open again in the same place (that’s where the fissure was), which led to my two butt-hole surgeries at 11 o’clock, respectively. Another six weeks to heal and numerous sitz baths followed.
I’ve had recurring bouts of body pains, allodynia. I have open skin sores that won’t go away. I remain slightly feverish, but I’m constantly cold. I have a reduced appetite that can be blamed on vomiting everything I seem to eat. (I’ve been puking since August.)
Other signs or symptoms of this fun disease? Mouth sores. Fatigue. Weight loss. Abdominal tenderness and cramping. Skin lesions. Painsomnia. (What’s that? Pain + Insomnia.) Ulcers in your stomach and intestines. Painful rectum. (I keep baby wipes handy.)
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.