Is it possible to have a 'minor' case forever?

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New Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 9/4/2008 11:06 AM (GMT -7)   
My wife was diagnosed with Crohn's a little over a month ago. It was about one week before her 30th birthday. One week after her 30th birthday she got appendicitis (completely unrelated to Crohn's) and needed an emergency appendectomy. Needless to say, the last month has not been a fun one for her. She is absolutely terrified that this is going to ruin the rest of her life and is particularly worried about getting an ostomy bag.

I reassure her as much as I can, but we're both new to this an groping in the dark a bit. To be clear, she has an extremely mild case of Crohn's. A little over a year ago, she started having diarrhea several times a week. We had just gotten back from a vacation and she assumed it was a minor bug from the water or something. She went to see a physician, who said it probably wasn't anything serious but wanted to schedule her for a colonoscopy. She didn't like the doctor, though, so she never followed up. A friend of ours is also a doctor and she talked with him and advised her to start eating probiotic culture yogurts and similar things to calm her intestines down. It seemed to work and her diarrhea decreased to about once a month, which seemed about normal to me since we eat lots of spicy foods and other things that can cause loose stools on occasion. However, she became obsessed with the idea that she might have colon cancer, and I convinced her to get a colonoscopy just to give her some peace of mind. We found a great doctor and she underwent the procedure and, just as expected, no colon cancer. What we didn't expect was the Crohn's diagnosis. Since then, she'll been on Asacol and has continued to have diarrhea only about once a month.

So, her only symptom is diarrhea, which occurred several times a week (less than once a day) for about a month, followed by over a year of diarrhea only about once a month. What are the odds that this essentially non-existent level of symptomatology will continue? Is it possible she could live her whole life like this?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 168
   Posted 9/4/2008 11:24 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Husband-
Sorry about your wife's diagnosis. Whether it's minor or severe, it's still not fun. Everyone is different when it comes to Crohn's. Different in symptoms, severity, what we can eat, etc. So, it is totally possible that she could have minor Crohn's symptoms her whole life. It's also possible that she could severely flair. It's ALSO possible that she could go into remission and have no symptoms. I guess what I'm trying to say is that ANYTHING is possible with Crohn's. While it's terrific that she has mild symptoms, just keep in mind that changes can happen fast; sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse. I would suggest to be on alert, but to enjoy life to the fullest since she is feeling pretty good. And it can't hurt to stick to the suggested Crohn's diet for now. It will help in the long run in case she does flare.
So, welcome to the community, but sorry for the circumstances which brought you here. You'll find people here so helpful and kind for whatever problems might come about.

diagnosed: Crohn's Aug 2005
other set-backs: Vasculitis Aug 2006, Sub-total Colectomy (10 inches of colon left) Feb 2007, Ogilivie's Syndrome Mar 2007, Pulmonary Embolism Sept 2007, Collapsed lung Oct 2007, Recto/Vaginal fistula Nov 2007
drugs: Imuran, Remicade, Prednisone, Fentanyl, Warfarin, Flagyl, Cipro, Celexa, Ferrous Gluconate, Acidopholous

Elite Member

Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 20577
   Posted 9/4/2008 11:55 AM (GMT -7)   
Yes, it is possible to have a minor case (but as stated above, still not fun), researchers have found a cluster of genes that dictates the severeity and behaviour of the disease over time, there are many mild, moderate and severe cases and those who vary from mild to severe as well.

We'll just keep our fingers crossed for your wife that she will remain mild and be able to still maintain a fairly normal life with crohn's.

My bum is broken....there's a big crack down the middle of it! LOL :)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 3143
   Posted 9/4/2008 12:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi husband! Welcome and it's great to see a supportive spouse (I have a good hubby too)

"Minor" is all in how you define it. After my initial rupture in 1990, I had very few symptoms for about 10 years with the minimal meds for the time. I always thought I was a lucky one. Then I had some extra intestinal manifestations and felt this disease was absolutely horrible. After dealing with those things, I now remember I am a lucky one again and have pretty minor effects from the disease. i still go out for dinner, go camping and to sports events. I feel my life is pretty "normal" for having a chronic condition. The gene info pb4 mentioned has been intriguing me for months and I have started to research the research more.

Sometimes this disease knocks you for a loop and sometimes you go on about a normal life. It can change in a minute or be good for long periods of time. just remember that it is always an experiment and try not to get discouraged. Keep checking in with us....I try to come here even when i feel good so the site is not all about the rough times like websites tend to be.
Dx'd '90 (emergency rupture), symptoms ignored long before that, '03 fistulas and bad flagyl reactions, B12 weekly, Pentasa [until I surrender to the bigger meds]
I'm riding on the escalator of life....

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1169
   Posted 9/4/2008 12:45 PM (GMT -7)   
Dr. Steven Hanauer of the University fo Chicago is one of the leading researchers and clinicians in the Crohns field and he has stated that abuot 20% of Crohns patients -- those with what is generally considered mild disease, with no stricturing or fistulizing complications -- can expect to go through life at essentially a level disease state, avoiding surgery and other complicatins and growing no worse over time as long as they are properly medicated. I am one of those - first symptoms at 19, diagnosed at 32, now 61 and essentially uncnanged over all that time, with only occasional miniflares, no surgeries, etc. So the prognosis in your wife's case, given the informatio you present and the diagnosis of mild CD, is certainly encoruaging. There's no sure way to predict, but I would feel pretty good in your case that she can expect to live relatively uneventfully with her Crohns into the years and decades to come.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2003
Total Posts : 6131
   Posted 9/5/2008 6:48 PM (GMT -7)   
i know a couple people who have had it for 30 years and have bever had a surgery or been on too many meds..

on another note are you sure it was appendicitis? meaning did you get a copy of the pathologists report on the appendix? i bet iwas normal. dont just take her dr word for it get the records! the most common thing for the first crohns surgery is misdiagnosed appendicitis.. the crohns mimics all the symptoms. pain, fever, high white count etc... many , many of us have had a healthy appendix taken out . just sayin'

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 9448
   Posted 9/6/2008 8:48 AM (GMT -7)   
Yup, yup, what Randy said!!! Crohn's most often strikes first at the area where the small intestine joins the cecum (the first part of the colon) which is ALSO where the appendix "hangs out".

There's research to indicate that removal of the appendix provides some protection for the colon and ulcerative colitis, but also tends to make one more prone to Crohn's disease. Once Crohn's strikes it tends to move "upstream" rather than "downstream". 
I had my "healthy" appendix out in 1973 during an elective tubal ligation. I didn't want it removed but had no choice, the surgeon insisted if they went in for any reason they took it out. I wish I had known then what I know now. I wouldn't have given consent and/or would have asked for a copy of the pathologist's report even tho I was having no symptoms or problems.
I first encountered Crohn's symptoms in mid-'75 at 33 years of age, was Dx'd w/Crohn's in early '76 but couldn't tolerate the only med offered to me, asulfadine. So I went unmedicated for 2 1/2 years at which time I had an emergency resection of 18" of the mid-ileum (small intestine). I THEN ENJOYED A 20 YEAR REMISSION!
When the Crohn's returned in 1998, symptoms were mild and Pentasa kept me in AT LEAST symptomatic remission for 5 years until 2003. Imuran was then added w/the Pentasa and they have kept me in AT LEAST symptomatic remission for 5 years until 2008. Active disease symptoms are again mild, but the partial obstruction at the old resection site has narrowed enough that it is time for me to consider a second resection to get rid of that partial obstruction and the stretched out area above it.
And by the way: an intestinal resection does NOT necessarily mean an ostomy bag by ANY stretch of the imagination. MOST resections do NOT require an ostomy bag. "We" have some 20 feet of small intestine so we can "spare" quite of a bit of small intestine before an ostomy bag would be needed.

Some people are like Slinkies... Not really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

Post Edited (CrohnieToo) : 9/6/2008 10:02:56 AM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 9/8/2008 6:28 AM (GMT -7)   
randynoguts: Yes, it was definitely appendicitis. It was confirmed during the surgery and the surgeon said it was entirely unrelated to the Crohn's. Just a strange coincidence. My wife's GI doctor said it was an unusual situation, as most people go in to the hospital thinking they have appendicitis, and end up with a Crohn's diagnosis. My wife went in thinking it was a Crohn's problem and had nothing wrong but her appendix. As far as the doctors could tell, nothing has changed about her Crohn's, though a post-op blood test did show an elevated white blood cell count. She's got her first post-diagnosis appointment tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get more information then.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 239
   Posted 9/8/2008 8:05 AM (GMT -7)   
I had symptoms of Crohn's for years, but they were mild and were always diagnosed as a virus. When going through a stressful time (moving, finding a new job, buying and selling homes) I had a flare that ended up with my diagnosis. 9 months later I was having a bowel resection. So even though I had minor symptoms and even no symptoms at times, I was stricturing and scarring my way to surgery. Hopefully your wife has caught it early and is heading off some problems down the road by getting on meds to minimize the damage now. My thoughts are with you and her, and she is a lucky woman to have a supportive husband like you!
diagnosed w/Crohn's 11/06. 34f with 2 boys, a lovable dog, and a wonderful husband. 150 mg Imuran, bentyl, vicodin as needed, metoprolol for orthostatic hypotension and heart palpitations. Bowel resection 9/07. Active disease back, darn it 8/08. 11 year old son with IBS-C, on Bentyl.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 1831
   Posted 9/8/2008 9:32 AM (GMT -7)   
Just my 2 cents. I'd be suspicious of that doc saying the appendectomy was unrelated to Crohns. In '82 after a round of lower right quadrant pain that wouldn't let up, I went to the ER and the next day I had surgery to remove my appendix, ovarian cyst and part of the ovary. Two months later I was back in hospital and ended up with a resection on my terminal ileum. Is you wife's doctor a general GI or does he/she specialize in IBD? If she can I think it's worth her time/effort to find one who specializes in IBD. They are much better able to treat her with the proper meds and follow her disease.

That said. Welcome to Healing Well. You will find tons of information here. And please encorage your wife to post if she already doesn't. I had CD for over 20 years before I finally reached out to a support's amazing how much better you feel emotionally!


New Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 9/8/2008 10:54 AM (GMT -7)   
It was both the GI doc (don't know if he's an IBD specialist, will find out) and the surgeon who said it was unrelated. CAT scans showed a very prominent blockage of the appendix with 'fecalites' (or something like that) which is apparently the usual cause of appendicitis. There was absolutely no doubt at all that she had a straight case of appendicitis. I'm not sure whether the Crohn's could have somehow caused the appendicitis, but we'll definitely be asking tomorrow.
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