Hello - and welcome to "Jenni's Guts" a blog about Crohn's disease and all the fun stuff that goes along with it. Here is a little back story just to catch you up.
1990 – 1995
I suffered from a lot of stomach pain, back pain, joint pain and lost about 15 pounds due to running to the restroom about 15-20 times a day. (I don’t know if it was the running to the bathroom or what happened once I got in there that caused the weight loss) My family doctor at that time told me I was depressed and needed Prozac. I’m pretty sure that’s right around the time Prozac was just starting to make it big. The family doc was a quack so I went to a specialist. The specialist told me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and needed to eat more fiber but scheduled me for a sigmoidoscopy anyway – just for kicks! My 18th birthday was spent with me in the restroom administering two enemas to myself and then having the first of many cameras put in that special place that is not designed for things to be put in. Happy Birthday too me! Everything came back normal so I was again told to eat more fiber. I quickly found out fiber made things worse. I swore I would never see another doctor again and was determined they were all secretly plotting my demise. I continued to get sicker and sicker and was taken – kicking and screaming I might add - to a new specialist. The new specialist did many tests and this is around the time I discovered that barium really didn’t taste all that bad. But everything came back normal, again, except for one blood test. It showed an inflammation/infection rate of seven times the normal rate. Why? No one knew. To surgery I went. It was found out my colon was not in the right place – instead of looking like a question mark it looked like a backwards K. Once that was put into the correct position in my stomach it was found that I had about 3 feet of severely inflamed small intestine that had been covered by the misplaced colon – hence the negative results on all the X-rays. The diagnosis – Crohn’s disease.
1995 – 1996
My first taste of life with a chronic illness – at least one that had a name – came during this first year. Lots of different medication was tried and I was taking 48 pills per day at one time. Plus shots of Methotrexate – a mild chemotherapy drug. Aside from the horrible side effects from Prednisone life had gotten a little better but not enough better. I was back in surgery almost exactly a year from the date of my diagnosis to have a foot and a half of small intestine and the first part of my large intestine removed.
1996 – 2007
The next nine years consisted of me going back and forth between remissions to flare ups and on drugs and off drugs to try to control my guts. My restroom usage never was less than 3 to 4 times a day. The urgency was always an issue and not being able to “hold it” was a big concern. This was mostly attributed to the removal of intestines and I just had to find the right balance of Imodium to help. (Note to self, check stocks in Imodium to see how we’re doing…) However, during these difficult years I did manage to meet and marry the most wonderful, compassionate, and understanding man on the face of the earth. I learned to live life regardless of Crohn’s and learned how important it is to plan ahead. Of course I only realized this was a good idea AFTER I ended up having to use the restroom while stuck in a 2 hour dead stop traffic jam. Luckily I was with my husband and mother-in-law and she had some paper towels and bags in her car. And we were surrounded by semi trucks so no one saw me do the deed in the car. Embarrassing – yes. Funny – it is now. Memory I will have forever – absolutely. Breaking in my mother-in-laws brand new car – PRICELESS!!!!
2007 – 2008
I came to really know God and develop an everlasting relationship with Jesus Christ during the first part of 2007 and really felt His presence around me as I prepared to have a total hysterectomy during the summer of that year. I was informed the surgery would be complicated because some additional pre-op testing showed that I did have active Crohn’s and I may come out of the surgery with less intestine and/or a colostomy of some sort. I was totally prepared for that. No more running to the restroom with fear of not making it there quick enough AND no more periods really sounded almost appealing at that time. I was prayed over right before my surgery by several members of my church and family. When the general surgeon specifically in the OR to exam my bowels inch by inch talked to my family, he described my intestines as “pristine” and found no evidence of Crohn’s at all. This was truly a miracle from God because just two weeks before the testing showed evidence of active disease and I was not taking any medication to treat my disease. That’s the pure healing touch of God right there folks! The hysterectomy went wonderfully and I came home and never had another problem with my stomach. Until I needed my gall bladder removed in June of 2008. But that was gall bladder issues and not Crohn’s.
September 2008 - Present
I started having some stomach pain and my restroom issues seem to return; complete with urgency, waking me up out of a dead sleep and the identifiable food that leaves my body no sooner than I can swallow it early this month. Could it be the removal of the gall bladder related? Could it be Crohn’s flaring? Could it be something else altogether? The verdict is still out for those answers.
All entries will more than likely include a little bit of medical information, a little bit about faith in God and how He is much bigger than any storm I am going through, and probably a lot of toilet humor and references to poop including what color, size, shape and smell it is. I’ll also include other such wonderful lady-like topics like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and the fun sounds my stomach can make. And who can resist a little toilet humor anyway?