Hello all! My name is Lisa Burks. I am 32 years old, and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease a little over two years ago. I am an accountant, event coordinator, shopper and baker, or otherwise known as the best housewife! My husband Wes and I have been married for nine wonderful years and going strong. We don’t have any children, but are the proud fur parents to the cutest black Labrador named Lucy. In my spare time I enjoy quilting, reading, listening to music and spending time with loved ones.
Before developing Crohn’s disease, I struggled with a number of other health aliments. Although I had health issues as a child, it wasn’t until I was 20 that my health started declining. Over the past 12 years I’ve been in and out of emergency rooms and hospitals, endured dozens of procedures and undergone 22 surgeries. My doctors were puzzled.
At one point I remember asking my doctors to stop all the testing because it was like opening Pandora’s box. It seemed as though the more tests they did, the more conditions I collected. At this point I live with asthma; a rare immune deficiency disorder called hypogammaglobulinemia (or CVID); seizures; migraines; renal tubular acidosis; GERD; avascular necrosis; diabetes; peripheral neuropathy; and Crohn’s disease.
The road to my diagnosis of Crohn’s wasn’t a slow or a drawn-out process like it is for many others. I’ve had mild GI issues since childhood, but never anything significant or worrisome. That all changed in August of 2014 when I developed toxic megacolon, a rare and deadly condition where the colon rapidly dilates and ultimately shuts down. When this happens toxicity spreads, allowing infection to set in, leading to sepsis and shock.
As the condition progresses, vital organs begin to fail. Toxic megacolon can occur as a complication of having Crohn’s disease, or in my case, undiagnosed Crohn’s disease. I was fortunate to survive, but not without sustaining severe damage to my intestines. That’s all it took for me to develop severe Crohn’s disease.
Once I was healthy enough to go home from the hospital, I struggled quite a bit with stomach issues. Suddenly I was dealing with extreme weight loss, stomach cramping, nausea, urgency/diarrhea (up to 20 times a day), high fevers and severe exhaustion. I couldn’t believe how much my life had changed. After several tests and scopes, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease on Nov. 7, 2014. That day was the start of my battle being a Crohn’s Warrior!
Many people ask me how I’m able to keep a positive outlook through everything that has happened to me. The truth is, it’s not easy. There are several factors, but what I find helps most is having a solid support system. My husband Wes, my family and friends are my support group and they keep me going strong. Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do without them in my life.
I’ve come to realize that in life you need to look for the silver linings. Finding the positives mixed in a mess of hardships can be a challenge, but it helps make things seem not as bad. When I meet others with some of the same health issues, I try to be there for support. I consider the opportunity to help others by sharing my experiences and knowledge as a big silver lining.
Being able to take all that I’ve lived through and continue to live with, and turn it into a way to help others makes me feel as if I am making a difference. That’s exactly what I’m hoping to do here. I want to make a difference by sharing.
Until next time, stay strong, my fellow Crohn’s Warriors!
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.
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