It can affect any portion of the intestine from mouth to anus but most commonly infects the small intestine. Similar to an auto-immune disease, it is a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens. The swelling and inflammation causes blockages which makes it difficult to eat, can cause bleeding and severe pain. Common symptoms are abdominal pain, fever, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss but it also can cause skin rashes, anemia, arthritis, inflammation of the eyes, and overall exhaustion. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease but symptoms can be managed with medication and quite often surgery is required.
The diagnosis was devastating but also a relief. It wasn’t in my head as so many people had tried to suggest. It felt good knowing the root of the problem so I could work towards getting better.
However, I wasn’t prepared for the myriad of emotions I was going to experience. First grief, then came anger, feeling sorry for myself and finally acceptance. It was difficult to accept how I was going to live my “new life”, one with a chronic illness with no cure. All the efforts by my doctors and myself to try medications and diets did not work to control my symptoms. I was still sick. My new reality hit me like a ton of bricks, I was never going to be the same. I started to identify with “being sick”, learning about the illness consumed my life because I had no life otherwise. I was 27 years old, I couldn’t keep up with what my friends were doing. I couldn’t go out, eat or drink with no cares. I spent most of my time alone not feeling well. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and my husband were an amazing support system, but I didn’t want them to resent me for being held back by my illness.