24th February 2015
I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s in the summer of 2006 at the age of 32 after suffering terrible stomach cramps over a couple of weeks. I was unsure about the cause of these cramps at first and was very worried. After visiting my GP, I was referred to a gastroenterologist who carried out a colonoscopy of my bowel which found that I had a mild case of Crohn’s disease. Obviously, I was very worried and scared after my initial diagnosis as I didn’t know anything about Crohn’s or what it was. Therefore, I had to do a lot of research into the disease. My friend at the time, who is now my wife, told me to join Crohn’s & Colitis UK as they would provide me with professional a wealth of useful and vital information. I found this information very useful and would highly recommend anyone reading this blog to join Crohn’s related organisations.
My specialist prescribed me a course of prednisolone after my diagnosis which I had to take for a period of around 6 months until summer 2007 to reduce the inflammation in my bowel. These made me put on weight, particularly around my face, and made me feel very hungry. My hunger pains were more acute when I first started to take the steroids when I was on a larger dose but these decreased when I started to reduce the dosage. This was a really awful period of my life as I had never experienced these types of symptoms before and didn’t know when they were going to end.
I hardly went out socially at this time as I found it hard to move around and walk long distances due to my Crohn’s symptoms. This severely affected my social life and I hardly saw my friends for a number of months as I was scared and nervous about my condition and was worried that going out might make my symptoms worse. It also made me feel quite depressed and lonely. I thought that I was never going to get better and that I would feel this way for the rest of my life.
But, the steroids did reduce the swelling after around 6 months and I felt more like my old self again and started to feel a lot happier and less anxious about my condition. I also started to go out again and see friends and felt a lot more positive about myself. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t adopted this attitude as I should have remained calmer and more positive about my condition as my symptoms would not have become worse if I went out and socialised with friends. Therefore, I feel it is very important that people don’t put their lives on hold when they are suffering from Crohn’s symptoms and that they carry on with their lives as normal and don’t adopt a defeatist attitude.
Taking tablets before or after meals has become second nature to me since my diagnosis and I will probably have to take them for the rest of my life. Sometimes it can be awkward to take my tablets when I’m away from home as I have to put them in a small plastic sealable pouch inside my wallet or in a pill box. I have to do this if I go out for a meal in a restaurant or at someone’s house. It can also be an issue when I go away for a weekend break or abroad as I have to make sure I take an adequate supply of drugs with me. A good tip is to take away more than the amount of tablets you need in case of emergencies. You never know what could happen on the way to or from your destination or during your vacation.
In general, my Crohn’s is kept under control but it has had an impact on my working life when I have experienced flare ups . I have had to take time off during these periods which has made me feel very frustrated and fed up with myself. Recently, I started to develop severe symptoms at work as a result of stress and a high volume of work and this resulted in me being unable to work for a number of weeks. I have just started a phased return to work on the advice of my GP and hopefully this and an occupational health review will help resolve this situation. However, this experience has taught me that stress could have an impact on my Crohn’s and that a highly pressurised environment could exacerbate my condition. I don’t want to sound too graphic but I hardly had any bouts of diarrhoea whilst I was signed off work, a clear sign that work related stress + pressure might = Crohn’s symptoms.
Thanks to Jonathan Marks for this Crohns blog post. Jonathan is 41 years old and lives in Leeds with his wife Sara. Jonathan enjoys travelling in the UK and abroad, playing tennis and badminton, the world of science fiction and fantasy, attending community groups and creative writing. Jonathan is keen to start sharing his Crohn’s experiences and hopes to launch his own blog shortly.
To celebrate the forthcoming launch of Book forCrohns, we’ve launched Blog forCrohns, featuring blogs from some of the best Crohn’s bloggers on the web as well as volunteers from the forCrohns committee. We’d love you to contribute, find out more here.