Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crohn's Experience: The Good!

Although it sounds strange, even though this disease has permeated my life with medical problems, pain, and the embarrassment of having to constantly run to the toilet (one of the wonderful symptoms of Crohns Disease), it has also shaped me and molded me into what I consider an incredibly strong individual. I can honestly say that I know I can get through any amount of suffering with the knowledge that the bad is ALWAYS followed by GOOD, and that I have never let this disease become my identity. It is simply something that I deal with, and I rejoice in the times that I am symptom free. I have never let it control my life and I have lived my life as a husband and father of two, I have travelled the world, had a successful career, and have always kept humor and a positive attitude through it all. I have helped council other Crohns patients and have served on the local CCFA (Crohns Colitis Foundation Of America) board of directors. I honestly believe that my experiences have had a positive impact on my life, and on those I have come in contact with. It is absolutely true to state that "that that does not kill us makes us stronger" and coupled with the knowledge that "this too shall pass", suffering can actually be turned into a positive individual growth experience!

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My Crohn's Experience: Introduction

My Crohn's experience started when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at the age of 15, during a time when very little was known about this debilitating illness, and drug treatment options were few. In this blog I would like to recount my nearly 40 years of experiences with this illness; the good, the bad, and the ugly, and discuss current medications available to treat Crohn's Disease, such as Humira, Remicade, 6-MP, Prednisone, and others.

Crohn's Disease is classified as an inflammatory illness which is caused by the body's immune system attacking healthy cells in the intestinal tract, which can lead to intestinal blockage, rupture, sepsis and death if left untreated.

I have had three intestinal resections due to Crohn's Disease and the last nearly cost me my life. I say this not to be dramatic, but to raise awareness that ignoring symptoms can lead to serious consequences. In 1999, I had what I knew was a serious flareup, but instead of checking into the hospital for treatment, I tried to ignore my symptoms. I ended up in the ER with a 105 degree fever, semi-conscious from septic shock, with a heartbeat in lethal arrhythmia and requiring CPR. My intestine had broken open and the septic shock had set in. I spent four days in the ICU after having major surgery to repair my intestine, followed by IV medicines to fight infection. The doctors did not expect me to survive the night, but somehow I did, and I share all of this in order to tell you that if you suspect something is wrong, and you have a high fever and severe abdominal pain, RUN, do not walk, to your local ER. Call 911 if necessary, but definitely do not take chances. Get to a hospital pronto!