I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in April 1999- at the age of 20. Some of the information about my journey with Crohn’s Disease that I’m going to share may borderline on too much information…but there’s no way to explain the magnitude of the power of God in my life without being a little bit graphic at times. I hope that’s alright.
For those that do not know, Crohn’s is the inflammation of the GI tract and can affect anywhere from your mouth to your anus. I suffered for 1 ½ years before a diagnosis was made. During this 1 ½ year period, I was enrolled at Penn State University (Abington PA campus) and had to commute on public transportation to school. I also worked part time as a bill collector for a credit card company. Everything seemed to be going well. I mean, I had the usual teenage stress of being in college and working to keep money in my pockets but my health seemed good. Admittedly, I wasn't eating all that great. I spent most of my time away from home, and away from the great home-cooked meals Mom would prepare.
It seemed liked all of a sudden, I began to have abdominal pain. I noticed it was happening everyday and the pain would often be severe. I actually thought it was related to my menses, because I would often have irregular periods at this time in my life. Even then, the pain would never be this severe, so that was an immediate red flag. On top of this, I began to lose control of my bowel movements. I started having countless accidents at school, on the bus, in cabs, and at work. For 1 ½ years, I had every test imaginable. I was poked, prodded, and treated like a lab rat. My doctor thought I had a tapeworm, but the tests came back negative.
I was fired from my job in 1998. Due to the unpredictability of my symptoms, I was constantly late or calling out. I was really at my wit’s end. Finally in 1999, I was referred to a gastroenterologist (or GI doctor), had a colonoscopy, and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. At least I had a name for what was going on, but I sure didn’t know what the next 14 years would have in store for me.