Welcome to my latest series, “Crohn’s Complications.” I will write about the complications beyond the symptoms and focus on the more extreme medical emergencies that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can induce. As mentioned in my “Beyond the Bathroom” series, and as many IBD patients can tell you, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are much more than just bathroom illnesses.
Recently, I came across an image on Pinterest that suggested a writer on the film Alien, Dan O’Bannon, drew on his experiences and pain with Crohn’s disease to conceive the idea for a scene in which an alien tears through a victim’s stomach. The post also stated that, sadly, O’Bannon died due to complications from Crohn’s disease. Of course, I shared the image as much as I could.
Often in conversations, and especially since sharing the image, I am asked what type of complications can come with Crohn’s disease? What major issues, surgeries, and problems can arise because of inflammatory bowel diseases? And, terrifyingly enough, what could potentially lead to death?
So, I take questions and concerns and turn them into a learning experience for myself and others. I have had only what I consider minor surgeries when compared to others who have a lifetime of circumstances and experiences due to Crohn’s disease. Remember, each patient is unique in terms of symptoms and disease, and what may happen for others may not necessarily be your path, too.
Complications can happen with any form of autoimmune disease, either through symptoms, sickness, or surgeries. With Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, problems on the inside are harder to find and fix, and they also can lead to major life-altering predicaments. One day, Crohn’s patients may look or feel “fine,” and the next they could face the decision of when to go to the emergency room, or where and when to have intense surgeries.
In “Crohn’s Complications,” I’ll discuss emergency room visits – because we’ve all been there – and I’ll mention abscesses and fistulas again, with perforations in your tummy and toxic megacolon. (See previous mentions of my perianal abscess and fistulotomy.)
I’ll also research bowel obstructions – partial blockage and full obstruction – as well as the many options for ostomy or stomas. One would think there is only one way to perform this surgery, but there are quite a few different bowel-related surgery options, such as a J-pouch, colostomy, ileostomy, colectomies, rectopexy, and bowel resections. Some of these are permanent, while others are temporary, and each has its own complications.
Lastly, I’ll examine and explore often-frightening complications such as sepsis, or infection, and life-threatening problems that can lead to death. There are a number of ailments that can come with Crohn’s disease or any autoimmune disease. Remember, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have no cure, and complications from them can worsen over time without remission.
My experiences may be different than yours, but you never can be too prepared for what could happen with Crohn’s or colitis. Because for me, It Could Be Worse.