Living with Crohn's: Jennifer's Story
When Jennifer was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 28, she was immediately placed on a strict diet. With help from a nutritionist, she started taking supplements that would specifically help her digestive system and keep her symptoms under control. It was difficult to stay on track with all of her new restrictions, but just a year later, Jennifer was beginning to return to her passions.
Jennifer's story, in her own words, is reprinted below from the CCFA Community Forum.
"I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease on September 26, 2009. I was having a lot of stomach pain and nausea when I ate, and my vision began to get very blurry. I'm not one that likes to go to the doctor, but my symptoms only got worse. I would throw up anything I ate and double over in pain. When I was first admitted they thought I just had the flu that was going around. I knew it had to be more than that."
"After running a CT scan they said I had ulcerative colitis. My twin sister has had UC for over 11 years now, so it wasn't that much of a shock to me. I was, however, upset, because when my sister was first diagnosed a doctor had told me that if I did not get this by the time I was 25 I would not get it. Well, I was 28 when they diagnosed me. Guess they were wrong. Then the results from my colonoscopy showed that I actually had Crohn’s, not colitis. I was put on steroids – Asacol and Prednisone – and a very strict diet. No fruits or vegetables, no dairy products, no foods high in fiber/fat. When I got out of the hospital I knew things were not going to be easy."
"I decided to see a nutritionist to help my body heal on the inside. I found out that I was sensitive – "allergic" – to corn & honey. He advised that I stay away from any products that contained high fructose corn syrup, honey and wine, or that were high in refined sugar. I was not allowed any dairy because it would feed on the infection that was making me sick. After testing me with over 20 different types of supplements he put me on supplements that would specifically help me. I returned to the nutritionist every four weeks until my symptoms were under control. Each time he would test to see if the supplements were still working; if they weren't, he would put me on a supplement that would."
"After eight months I was finally off steroids. This would be the true test to see if I was healing. I was still on a strict diet and dealing with this the best way I could. Constantly having to read the labels of everything you buy is not easy, but I knew that was the only way I was going to get better. I have had to give up some of the foods I loved to eat like corn, popcorn and pancakes, but I know that in the end these foods will make me sick – it's just not worth it. Almost a year after I was diagnosed I had a colonoscopy. Everything came back completely clear. I was very happy to know that everything I had been doing for the past year had worked. I hear it's not common for someone to have a normal colonoscopy just one year after they were diagnosed. My sister just got her first normal one after ten years."
"I still see the nutritionist every twelve weeks. I have been on the same few medicines for months now and they are really helping. I still have a day every once in a while where I get sick, but I realize that it's because I ate something that I shouldn't have. I know now that I just need to take it one day at a time. Thankfully I have been able to get back to the way my life used to be. I work out 3-4 days a week, recently ran a 5K in April and am training for a 10k! I pray to God every day to help me choose the right foods to put into my body and that the medicine I'm taking heals and strengthens me. I know with His help I can fight this!"