semester off for surgery?

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john's girl
Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 2/7/2008 3:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone,

I posted a few days ago about serum sickness - my fears were confirmed. I went to the ER, my temp. was up to 102, and the doctor on call said that my symptoms looked like several other cases of serum sickness that he had seen. Now I'm off Humira, and my local GI referred me to a specialist in St. Louis.

I've been seeing my local GI for about a year, and we've tried just about every medication except Remicade. With this new terrible reaction to the Humira, surgery looks like it might be the last option. I have an appointment at Barnes-Jewish hospital in St. Louis next month, but I'd love to get some advice from everybody before that.

I'm 21, a junior at the University of Illinois. I've just about completed my English degree and I'm working on a business minor. I've applied for several publishing internships for the summer in New York, Chicago, and London. My parents and my local GI doctor have told me that taking this spring semester off to have resection surgery as the best option, but that feels like I'm quitting. I'm on track to graduate next spring, and I could still graduate on time with this semester off. It's just a mental thing - I feel like I would be letting the Crohn's control me if I let it get in the way of my education.

I also know that surgery isn't the magic bullet. Some people gain years of clinical remission with surgery, but some aren't as lucky. What's your experience with resection, and how long did it take you to recover?
I'm hoping I can schedule surgery after I'm done with my finals at the end of the semester and have time to recover before starting an internship, but my parents and my doctors are pushing for the surgery to happen sooner.

Any thoughts?

(Sorry for the long post, it just feels good to explain everything!)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1169
   Posted 2/7/2008 4:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, I teach college classes and i have had students on occasion who had to have major surgery during a semester -- a colectomy in one case. I worked with them tp allow them a few weeks off and a limited schedule on return to get them through the semester with credit, but not every instructor will be that tolerant. I would say the best measure of what you can do -- go ahead with surgery or try to delay it -- should be based on how you feel. Unless you have an obstruction or abscess right now,  the resection is not an urgent thing . . . except that given your non-response to medications, it's clear that your disease will likely remain active while you try to finish your degree . . .only you can say "I can handle that" or "I cannot." Bottom line is, you are vary close to finishing and a semester off for the surgery and an unhurried recovery is not likely to derail you . . . you'll go back and finish. It all comes down to whether you can handle finishing that semester with active CD and all the baggage it brings. The only really bad choice, in my view, would be to try to finish, fall out halfway through and have to go back and start the semester over again.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 990
   Posted 2/7/2008 4:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi John's sorry you've had a rough go. I can't answer your questions about surgery, but I'm always interested in how college students handle their CD since someday my son will be there, too. It sure sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and a great understanding of what surgery may and may not mean for you. I also can completely empathize with you not wanting to let the Crohn's control you. It's a tough spot.

Just curious, can you wait to make this decision until after you see the specialist in St. Louis or is that too late?

fyi, we must be in your general area as we are in IL and go to St. Louis for our GI, too. My son really wants to go to U of I, too.

Hopefully someone here can help you more. Someone who's juggled CD, college, and surgery. These are just some thoughts and questions I had after reading your post.
Mother to 15 year old boy diagnosed in June, 2007.
Currently taking Asacol, omega 3s, digestive enzymes, probiotics, iron, vit. C, calcium w/D3 and a good multivitamin.
Started The Maker's Diet in early September.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 128
   Posted 2/7/2008 5:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I missed a year of college when I was first dx. It was only after I started Remicade that I went back to school. Two months in I ended up needing an emergcency resection. I only missed two weeks of school for the surgery, and all my teachers were understanding. I was lucky to have an easy schedule at that particular time. It's doable.

I never felt like I was letting the disease beat me when I took off from school. I saw it as a temporary period to get well. A lot of poeple miss a semesetr for whatever reason.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2003
Total Posts : 1668
   Posted 2/7/2008 5:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Oh my dear, you are not a quitter if you take a semester off to get in healthier shape. Unfortunately, sometimes Crohn's does control at certain times of life and right now is one of them.

I agree with Mike. Big chance trying to get through the semester if there is no way to keep your Crohn's in check through the semester. You already know how wicked the stress of Finals are!!

My Daughter was not in remission the first 4 out of 5 years she was in College. Was NOT a fun time, but she did keep moving forward thanks to Campus Disability Services and whole lotta wonderful Professors. Lots of withdrawals, lots of incompletes, but it all worked out in the end, SHE GRADUATED!! Thanks to Remicade and remission she did get to enjoy her 5th/final year of College.

Can't comment on resection surgery. My Daughter hasn't been that route.

Got to do what you think is best for you and I hope it all works out to your health and advantage!!

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 298
   Posted 2/7/2008 10:56 PM (GMT -6)   
I can't offer any useful advice regarding surgery, but I just thought I'd say "Hello" I'm at U of I too :)

john's girl
Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 2/8/2008 5:57 PM (GMT -6)   
MikeB - I wish my professors were as understanding as you! It would be much worse to fail a class or two than to take some time off - I've worked hard to keep my GPA where it is. I have every intention of continuing my career, I'm just frustrated that my disease isn't working with all these nicely laid plans I've set for myself.

EMom - Thanks for the kind words! I see my specialist in St. Louis the day before the "drop date", so I'd like to have most of the kinks worked out before then. If your son wants any advice about U of I, email me!

Kenny23 - I'm sorry about your emergency resection - that's the type of surgery I'm looking to avoid! I know lots of people take time off school, I just need some time to mull it over. I see my regular GI next week, so hopefully he'll have some advice for me as well.

MaryS - Congratulations on your daughter's graduation! I'm sure Calculus can stress out people without Crohn's, so think of what it's doing to my poor insides! I hope your daughter never has to think about resection - stay happy and healthy.

Illini - Always good to see another Chambana resident! How 'bout that basketball game last night? Yipes.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 739
   Posted 2/8/2008 11:47 PM (GMT -6)   
don't do what i did, tried to fight through it and it killed my gpa for a while, re taking the classes ended up making me take 7 years to graduate!! but i finally did it, if i had to do it all over again. I would have taken off and registered with my disability office from the very beginning.

P.S. i know i don't type like it, but my degree is in English as well!
25 y/o female- crohns disease since 14
Ileostomy pending-very worried
Tried asacol,pentasa,prednisone,remicade,6mp,azasan, no avail
Seatons placed
Worst year ever!

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear....."
Where does mine come from?!
Temp Ileostomy performed 1/29/08
Still Adusting has been my Godsend...Thank you

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