Needing encouragement

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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 4/26/2010 1:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Background info:

-Sophomore year: Diagnosed in the spring with severe ulcerative colitis; 2 hospital stays totaling 11 days, 3 blood transfusions, usual cocktail of oral medications, and finally Remicade in April. Ended up having to withdraw from school for the semester and make up classes in the fall; mild depression takes hold during the summer
-Junior year: Remicade effects begin to lessen; clinical depression sets in but I didn't seek professional help; short ER visit just before finals in the spring; 3 day hospital stay during the summer beginning the day after I took the MCAT
-Senior year: No hospital stays but several more rounds of prednisone. Never really gain control of symptoms but just deal with it; begin seeing a therapist for suicidal ideation; somehow manage to graduate on time
Med School-
-First year (this year): Hospital stay just before finals of first block, another round of steroids, and then another hospital stay before finals of second block; Remicade is doing almost nothing, but my GI decides to go up to "double-dose" in hopes of getting control of things; I finally end up in the hospital a few weeks ago for suicide watch and am put on psychiatric medications; file medical withdrawal from school in hopes of retaking first-year this coming fall.

Now to the recent development-
So, about 3 weeks ago I go see a colorectal surgeon in hopes of getting some obnoxious hemorrhoids removed. He takes one look at me and says "Son, these are skin tags, not hemorrhoids. They're a dead give-away for Crohn's and are almost never seen in UC patients." Understand that this news was traumatizing to me because I had always understood that I had UC; because of my many hospital stays and the lack of almost any efficacy from non-steroid medications, I had always clung to the light at the end of the tunnel: curative colectomy/j-pouch. Now, with a Crohn's diagnosis, I realize that I'm stuck with this disease forever.

I'm now faced with the terrifying possibility of not only a lifetime of uncontrolled Crohn's, but also not being able to make it thru medical school. Right now I'm 0-2 when it comes to completing classes and every flare-up I've ever had has immediately preceded finals/MCAT/etc. I honestly don't know if my body is capable of surviving the stress of school. I'm already in debt from one year of tuition and have to decide whether to take the risk of doubling that debt by trying again this coming year.

The depression is only getting worse as I think about debt, career options, health problems, whether to have kids someday, a lifetime of surgeries and pain, and the prospective damage that all of these medications will cause in the long run. I'm having trouble with soiling myself in public, can no longer enjoy my favorite past-times (running and backpacking) because of severe chafing from "leaking" down there, and my dating life is non-existent because of constant fear of Crohn's symptoms. I'm also beginning to inadvertently distance myself from family and friends because I feel like I'm their "Tiny Tim" and I hate the constant questions about my health.

Medications I've taken for GI issues-
Lialda (current)
Imuran (current)
Remicade (current)
Flagyl (current)
Prednisone (I can't even count how many courses I've taken)

Anyways, I don't really know why I'm posting all of this. I guess it's just to find some encouragement and be reminded that there is a life to be lived despite Crohn's. The HealingWell forum for UC was really helpful for me back when my health first started to go downhill, so I thought it might help to start posting again. Thanks everyone

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 186
   Posted 4/26/2010 2:40 PM (GMT -7)   
I am so sorry you are going thru all this, James.  It can get pretty depressing- and down right scary!  Like you I was diagnosed with UC when i was 16yo.  I did end up having the j-pouch surgery but things were ok for many years after that!  Then I started having more problems and my new lab work confirmed it was Crohns.  I had to drop semester after semester of classes and never thought I would finish.  But while it took me way more then 4 years I eventually got thru it.  And that stress was enough for me, so I could NOT imagine trying to get thru medical school.  My cousin has RA and is now in her first year of medical school- she is having a lot of tummy and joint problems- and I am sure the stress is making it even harder.  Sadly, I don't have much advice to offer but I will def be thinking about you.  There are times when you think, " I can't handle anything else", but eventually you a pull thru and find a way to live.  It is a much different life as you always have to plan around knowing where the bathroom is... and being out and about it just not as fun as it once was for fear of leakage and accidents!  But TRY to keep your head up...

Dx with UC in 97, hospital stays monthly, tons of blood transfusion, bowel rest on TPN, prednisone, asacol, sulfa,
99- multiple failed remicade treatments, more hosptial stays
finally in 2001 had enough and had total colectomy (j-pouch) surgery, 1st step was good, then the reversal was not such a breeze, got peritinitis and almost didn't make it.
the rest of 2001-2006 were amazing!
now having problems again- they are thinking Crohns.- have been on Humira with no luck

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 4/26/2010 2:45 PM (GMT -7)   
trust me james there is still a light at the end of the tunnel, once the medications are correct and regulated, and u've figured out a healthy diet that doesnt cause flare ups, and possibly surgery, ul find that ure life can get on track. I unfortunately was misdiagnosed and went 6 yrs without being medicated or treated at all for chrons. I had a resectioning of my distal ileum and have been good for quite sometime, until recently. But as far as the stress goes, u can do it, u just have to learn how to find ways to calm yourself. For years i suffered from attacks because of the stress of working 2 jobs and going to school. It was hard, but i made it thru, partly due to the fact that the primary doctor put me on a stress and anxiety pill, which helped with my depression as well. It is a tough disease i'm not gonna lie, but the fact is there is so much more to life than this stupid disease! sure u gotta map out the bathrooms in your 15 mile radius, and pray to god noone goes into the bathroom at the same time as you, but eventually it becomes a joke, and you meet some awesome chronies, and u share your laughs, dramas, and traumas, but in the end u rule your body not this disease. look into yoga, or meditation, or go to school part time, or take some time off from school until you get your body under control. plus if you feel your GI isnt getting you anywhere, go with the old motto, get a second opinion. Hopefully you will find your way, and remember even those of us who were worse off, have come back and been in remission for years, and you one day will too!
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