My name is Damion, and I’ve always had a cranky gut. For as long as I can remember, digestion was just different for me than it seemed to be for everyone else. As a child, it was excruciatingly painful. I had lots of crampy pain and lots of diarrhea. But the older I got, the less severe it became. Eventually, it was manageable enough that by the time I had health insurance, I no longer felt compelled to do anything about it… it was just part of being me. I’d spend days or weeks being constipated followed by days or weeks of diarrhea.
“Eat more fiber!”, they said. Didn’t change a thing. ”Take magnesium supplements!”, they said. Didn’t change a thing. Do this, do that… none of the conventional wisdom seemed to apply. It wasn’t really *THAT* problematic, so I just lived with it.
On July 19th, 2011, everything changed. I’d been feeling generally crappy on the 18th… feverish, achy, flu-like. By early evening, I was starting to get worried about a growing pain in my gut. Specifically, the lower right quadrant. I was worried because this didn’t feel like any sort of gut pain I was familiar with (and believe you me, I am familiar with gut pain!). It was incredibly responsive to pressure. By the morning of the 19th, I was pretty certain I had appendicitis. Off to the ER I went. A CT scan confirmed it. ”Congratulations!”, the Dr. said, “You’ll be staying with us tonight. You’ve just won yourself an appendectomy!”.
The surprise came after I woke up from what was supposed to be a quick laparoscopic procedure. The surgeon informed me that they had to cut me wide open because what they found was not an inflamed appendix, but a softball-sized mass of inflamed intestine! Rather than an appendectomy, I’d been given a bowel resection, including ileectomy. In total, I’d lost 2 feet of my gut, 18 inches of which was colon.
The lab report came back a couple days later. Crohn’s Disease. Excuse me?? I know people with Crohn’s Disease. I know the kind of suffering they experience on a daily basis. That’s not me. But there could be no doubt. The pathology was clear. I have Crohn’s.
This blog is the story of my learning about Crohn’s and integrating this into my life.