My Medical History Highlights

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. My family doctor, at that time, told me I was depressed and needed Prozac.  Clearly, 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 and scheduled me for a sigmoidoscopy...ON MY 18th BIRTHDAY!   >:{   Everything came back normal so I was again told to eat more fiber and decrease my stress. I quickly found out fiber made things worse and decreasing my stress just really wasn't an option. I swore I would never see another doctor again and had determined they were all secretly plotting my death. 

I continued to get sicker and sicker and was taken – kicking and screaming by my mother - to a new specialist. The new specialist did many tests 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, but they had to find out so I was scheduled for surgery.  During surgery they found out my colon was not in the right position in my abdomen – instead of looking like a question mark like a normal colon sort of does, it looked like a backwards K. By creating scar tissue for the colon to adhere to it was put into the correct position in my abdomen.  Once they had the anatomy correct, they found that I had about 3 1/2 feet of severely inflamed small intestine that had been covered by the misplaced colon – hence the negative results on all the X-rays. The final 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 medications were tried (Prednisone, Pentasa, 6-MP, Methotrexate, Bentyl, Flagyl, Cipro, Elavil, Tramadol, Vicodin, just to name a few) and at one point I was taking 48 pills per day plus weekly injections of Methotrexate – a mild chemotherapy drug that was a popular choice back then.  This was a time before the major biologics that are out currently.  In fact, Remicade was so new that my doctor was afraid to try it and said we should save "the big guns" in case I had a more severe flare up when I got older. 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 resection of a foot and a half of small intestine and the first part of my large intestine removed. I was fortunate to have a successful anastomosis and not need an ostomy. But not having that part of my intestines anymore started my battle with severe and chronic diarrhea.

1996 – 2007
The next nine years consisted of me going back and forth between remissions and flare ups and on drugs and off drugs to try to control my angry guts. My restroom usage was never less than 3 to 4 times a day. The urgency was consistently an issue and not being able to “hold it” was a big problem. This was mostly attributed to the removal of intestines so I just had to find the right balance of Imodium to help.  However, during these difficult years 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 conveniently 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-law's brand new car – PRICELESS!!!!

2007
I prepared to have a total hysterectomy during the summer of 2007. 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 an ostomy 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 cramps and periods every month really sounded good to me. Fortunately, the hysterectomy went wonderfully and much smoother than anticipated. My Crohn's didn't interfere with the surgery after all, and I didn't need an ostomy like originally thought.  I felt great and things were looking up. Until I needed my gall bladder removed in June of 2008. But that was gall bladder issues and not Crohn’s.

Late 2008
I started having some stomach pain and my restroom issues seem to increase; complete with urgency, waking me up out of a dead sleep and the identifiable food that leaves my body no sooner than I could swallow it.  Active Crohn's was found again and Prednisone was started yet again. Right around this time is when this blog began.  I survived this flare up of Crohn's and have pretty much chronicled every major medical issue that has happened since.

2009 - 2011
I have had trouble with pancreas divisum and pancreatitis in the past years.  I was treated at Indiana University/Purdue University Gastrointerology Department for this in 2010 and also spent some time at my local hospital for pancreatitis.  My family doctor and nurse practitioner also diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and sent me to a Rhuematologist who agreed with their diagnosis.  I have Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D deficiencies and fat malabsorption problems as well.  Through all of this I managed to go back to school and get my state license in Practical Nursing!  I'm a BEAST! All these great adventures are chronicled on the blog.

2012 - 2014
Every day I still had some kind of pain.  I continued to with chronic diarrhea that never went away and could only sometimes be slowed.  This kept me running to the bathroom all hours of the day and night.  I was extremely depressed a lot but I really tried to stay positive, in looking through the posts from this time, you can read about what a struggle it was.  My life was turned upside down from all of these complications from Crohn's disease so I used this blog as an outlet, a timeline and a personal journal.  I wanted to help others realize what it's like for people like me.  I also wanted to help others with IBD know they aren't alone.  I'm still here, I'm your advocate.  I care and I honestly understand your struggles. And I want to make you laugh.  Shannon Doherty was quoted as saying she doesn't talk about her Crohn's disease because it "isn't sexy".  (Apparently breast cancer is sexy to her because she has no trouble chronicling her story about that on social media.) She clearly doesn't know me or my fellow IBD sufferers. We with belly trouble all know pooping is damn sexy!  We make this look good!

2014 - 2015

After working so hard to get my nursing license and working as an Alzheimer's/Memory Care nurse for several years, I switched to Hospice/Palliative Care nursing, but I only could work one day in 2014.  I had to stop working altogether due to being sick.  I made the decision to file for Social Security Disability.  This decision caused a terrible strain on our finances and created a slew of posts that focused a lot on mental health issues.  I mentally deteriorated during this time and at one point nearly took my own life. In late January of 2015 due to my not being able to work, we lost our home, we had to file bankruptcy, and we barely had enough money to survive. I lost a lot.  I felt nothing but guilt and shame and the depression that came along with that was the nasty kind that made me want to die every single day.  I lost a lot of my positiveness because there just wasn't any.  Social Security was not coming through. Bills were piling up.  Doctors still couldn't help me.  I'm was slowly dying because my own body and mind hated me.  But I wanted to find happiness again. It was time to rebuild.

2016-2018

In November 2015 I was finally approved for my Social Security Disability.  It took several months for the payments to begin - like 5 more months - but it really helped my family financially.  I was so very grateful.  Still, there was nothing to relieve my pain and diarrhea and all the tests came back normal so I mostly just lived with it.  Not having to work allowed me the opportunity to stay very close to the bathroom at home.  We even started going to the grocery store in the middle of the night to avoid crowds and I really didn't leave home unless it was of major importance.  My daughter graduated high school and started college in the fall (2016).  I'm still so proud of her.  Life seemed to be moving along regardless of how much I wanted it to slow down. I hoped the bulk of the dark days were behind us and tried to settle into a new normal of not doing much of anything because of the never ending insomnia, continual diarrhea and pain. But the struggle was so real.

Summer of 2018 - Present

Situations outside of my control caused me to leave my home and have a go at life on my own. For the sake of my mental and physical health this step was absolutely necessary.  It's a struggle and it's scary and all the healthcare I need is a huge concern.  Social Security Disability really isn't much to live on, especially when there are doctors, medications, tests and treatments that come with the territory of having problems that qualify you to be on disability in the first place.  It really doesn't seem fair that I somehow manage to get knocked down at every turn. However, I have gathered every ounce of inner strength I have and I'm doing it.  I've lost a lot - again. I have to rebuild - again. But sometimes change can be good and it's time for me to really focus on my health now.  I'm finding more positive and healthy ways to take a more proactive approach to do that. And I'm looking forward to writing a lot more fun and informative posts to bring about more awareness for not only Crohn's and IBD related issues, but also Fibromyalgia and mental health issues.  Let the adventures begin.

Thanks for reading.