Where It All Began
I never would have become interested in health if it weren’t for my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease in 2007, when I was just 12 years old. The time during my diagnosis is somewhat fuzzy now. I just remember in the fall of 2006, I started out as a completely normal and healthy seventh grade student.
Symptoms started rearing their ugly heads little by little. The odd and seemingly harmless symptoms that aroused first didn’t point to an autoimmune disease. I had mouth sores and arthritis in my knees. Strange for a 12 year old, but could that really mean something serious was brewing? It didn’t cross my mind that they could be related.
Those symptoms were joined by fatigue, weight loss, nausea and sometimes vomiting, feeling full after even only a few bites and usually followed by a stomach ache. Not to mention other glorious gastrointestinal symptoms I’m sure you want to hear all about!
Yet, I went through a handful of doctors at my pediatric doctor’s office that passed me along without a blink of an eye. I heard things like “she’s just a skinny girl” to explain my low weight and blue fingernails.
I don’t pretend to be as knowledgeable as a doctor, but really? That’s the extent of the care I was given. I am so lucky to have a mom who’s a nurse (and just a super smart Mom) who kept pursuing a real answer for me. She always knew something bigger was at play.
Getting A Diagnosis: Crohn’s Disease
FINALLY, one physician referred me to the GI department at Massachusetts General Hospital. That day, the GI doctor I saw was pretty confident I had Crohn’s, and I was admitted at MGH that night. I was devastated and scared. For being a healthy kid, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been poked with a needle or had to take medicine. After several bad tasting concoctions, countless needles, tubes of blood drawn, x-rays, cat scans, and an endoscopy and colonoscopy, it was confirmed. Luckily, I had an outpouring of daily visits and gifts from my family and friends (you guys rock!).
People always say it’s relieving to have a diagnosis, and I couldn’t have agreed more when I heard there was a name to what was wrong with me. But as comforting as that was in a way, it was only the first radical change of course my life was taking me on.
I went home on a steroid called Prednisone, that many with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and other illnesses are all too familiar with. It made me feel great! I had a (ravenous) appetite that I was finally able to satisfy. I gained some weight back and was on another medication (Pentasa) I took daily. The Prednisone also made my cheeks puffy (which I didn’t think occurred until my doctor pointed it out!) Life seemed good again.
Medication Is Only A Band-Aid
That relief only lasted for so long. Just over a year later I was hospitalized again in February and March. Same old routine… Fluids, bloodwork, a diet of bland foods and bleached wheat products.
Then, something happened. For the better this time. When talking to a family member, my mom was given the name of a physicist that saw a relative of mine for Crohn’s. This physicist treats patients by advising them which foods and supplements to take, with a unique and rare piece of equipment. It sounded so strange to us. But if you have ever had an illness that can’t be tamed, you understand that there is nothing to lose.
Getting Back to Basics Saved Me
And that brings me to today. I am currently still followed by this physicist who has allowed me to reclaim my life in a natural way. I still have flare-ups during certain times of the year, so I am not claiming diet and supplements cured me. But, I will say that I believe your diet and environment plays an astronomical role in disease prevention and treatment.
This disease has led me up and down all sorts of roads. I am so grateful that I learned what foods in my diet help and hurt me. Do you avoid certain foods? Are there foods you make sure to incorporate?