Updated: Feb 17, 2022
I have Crohn’s Disease. It started with some blood in my stool early 2016, which I chalked up to hemorrhoids from weightlifting, and promptly ignored. Over the next 6 months or so, my symptoms increased to the point that ignoring them was no longer an option. I found a highly recommended Gastroenterologist, and had a colonoscopy scheduled for November 2016. After the colonoscopy, my GI diagnosed me with a type of Crohn’s Disease called Proctitis. Although a relatively minor version of the disease, he nonetheless explained to me that there was no cure, and it would have to be monitored and treated for the rest of my life. That statement never really sank in; I let it go in one ear and out the other. My symptoms cleared up within a week or so of treatment, and took approximately 8 months to return. When they did, they were minor, and once again cleared up in a short period of time with treatment. I didn’t take it seriously. During my flare-ups, didn’t follow my full course of prescribed treatments as my doctor recommended. Once the symptoms were gone, I stopped my medicine. In hindsight, a decision I truly regret. I wasted opportunities to really put the disease into remission, and probably built up a tolerance to the medicine at the same time. —————— A few months ago, I began to take a turn for the worse. Not only were the symptoms getting progressively worse, but they had stopped responding to treatment. I scheduled a colonoscopy for early January, but the pain continued to increase in severity and duration on what seemed to be a daily basis. I had a photo shoot scheduled for December 28th, 2018 for marketing pics to be used for my website and my social media accounts. I had worked hard and challenged myself to get myself into great shape, in spite of my increasingly severe side effects. I was proud of the shape I had gotten into, and the shoot went well. After that, I took a turn for the worse. I had my first ever systemic reaction from Crohn’s. I started running a high fever. My body ached, and I broke out in rashes...hundreds of whiteheads all over my face and head, and dozens of cysts on my body. My tongue swelled up like a balloon, and sores formed on the inside of my mouth. I was losing substantial amounts of blood, and my immune system was attacking me. Combine those systemic effects with the direct effects of the Crohn’s; incredible amount of blood, pain, and discomfort. Involuntary spasms, and a complete lack of control over when you have to go to the bathroom, and how, and for how long. My doctor put me on a liquid diet, along with high dose of prednisone to reign in my immune system until the colonoscopy the following week. I was, in essence, bedridden. That week leading up to my procedure was one of the most challenging of my life, both mentally and physically. I was in an incredibly dark place. —————- The results from the colonoscopy were not good, but were not as bad as they could have been. The inflammation was severe; described as an 8/9 on a 1-10 scale. Much worse than previous. That said, the inflammation had not progressed into the colon as much as my GI had anticipated, which was a positive. There were, however, spots of inflammation on the colon that were not there prior, leading him to change the diagnosis from specifically Proctitis, to Crohn’s Colitis. All in all, the disease had progressed significantly. The days of acting like it wasn’t really a concern were over. As uncomfortable as the physical aspect of the disease is to deal with, that’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is finally coming to grips with the fact that this is something I will struggle with for the rest of my life.
I am currently on 5 types of medication. The Crohn’s has begun to go into remission. I am getting better. ———————- I have done a lot of reflecting and soul-searching over the past few weeks. The level of disrespect I treated my body with for decades is truly remarkable. The decades of binge drinking. The on and off 20+ years of smoking cigarettes. The cocaine. They say the cause of Crohn’s isn’t known, but I feel like I know. ——————- The photo shoot feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve lost over 12 pounds of muscle in the 4 weeks since it was taken. Incredible gains in flexibility from my regular Yoga practice are gone. Months and months of hard work and dedication have been erased in mere weeks. I’ve gone from daily exercise in the form of yoga or weightlifting not being able to walk to my car without exhaustion. My foundation has been pulled out from under me, and there is nothing i can do at this time to get it back. I have simply had to accept that my body isn’t ready yet, and patiently await the day that it is. The past few months have been filled with fear, pain, humility, and now, gratitude. I am so grateful to be getting better. I will not be taking my health for granted any more. I look forward to the challenge of starting over.