What Is Crohn’s Disease?

What Is Crohns Disease?

Savannah Birch

In honor of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Month, I am going to talk about Crohn’s, my experience of losing someone to Crohn’s, and someone’s experience living with Crohn’s. This article is very important to me because I am familiar with the topic.  

What Is Crohn’s Disease? What Does It Do? 

Crohn’s Disease was first described in 1932 by Burrill Crohn, Leon Ginzberg, and Gordon D. Oppenheimer. Crohn’s Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. This is a long-term disease with no cure. Crohn’s causes swelling of the tissues in your digestive tract, which can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition, blood in stool, inflammation, kidney stones, iron deficiency, and delayed growth. The cause of the disease is still unknown, but it may come from the immune system or genetics. 

Risk Factors

Risk factors for Crohn’s are age, ethnicity, family history, cigarette smoking, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Age can be a risk factor because Crohn’s disease can occur at any age but most likely to develop at a young age. Ethnicity can be a risk factor because any ethnic group can develop it but whites have a high risk. Family history can be a risk factor because you’re at a higher risk if you have a first-degree relative with the disease. Cigarette smoking can be a risk factor because it’s the most controllable risk factor for developing this disease and also causes other diseases. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be a risk factor because they can lead to inflammation of the bowel that makes Crohn’s worse. 

My Experience With Losing Someone To Crohn’s Disease

Now, this is going to be a very long and emotional part of this article to write from my experience. On May 7, 2011, I lost my mom to a long battle with Crohn’s Disease. I was only 4 years old when the disease finally took her over and she lost her life. When people die, you look for something/someone to blame for it, well Crohn’s was the blame for my mom passing away. Losing someone to an illness is always hard but an illness that cannot be cured is heartbreaking to me. I was only a child telling people how my mom died and having to explain what Crohn’s was. Watching my mom in and out of the hospital, taking so much medication, and not being able to be there for a lot of things. Crohn’s definitely has taken a toll on my life even though I don’t have it, I still am at a higher risk of developing it because my mom had it. 

Someone’s Experience Living With Crohn’s Disease

My mom left diaries and letters behind about her illness, so I would like to share them. She started getting sick in high school but really fell into the sickness junior year, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at 19 years old. She was in and out of the hospital and had multiple surgeries. The doctors told her she wouldn’t make it past the age of 25 but she did that. She was not supposed to have children because of her disease but she miraculously had twins. She died at the age of 30 when her disease finally took over. Here is one of her letters, “I never knew two words could change a life in so many ways. On Monday April 25, 2000 around 4:45 Crohn’s Disease changed my life and the lives of the people surrounding me forever. None of us knew what Crohn’s Disease was and anything about it. All I know is I was told I would be better in 10 weeks. Well 2 years have come and I was still not in remission. I had already had 2 surgeries due to crohns. Gained weight cause of the medicine became unsure and suicidal. This is the worst disease I have ever heard of. I wouldn’t wish it on my enemy. Today I had 3 small navel blockages, one they had to operate on, 2 hernia reopens, a vega to my and 2 Crohn’s reconstruction surgery. I was told in 2003 I probably couldn’t have kids. In 2006 I gave birth to two healthy twins, a boy and girl. I felt great during my pregnancy. I now accept my disease as much as I can. I have Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s no longer has me.” (Lisa Birch). This was one of her letters about her sickness and how it was living with it. 

This article may have been a rough one but it’s a special one for me. I know this disease is rarely talked about and deserves more attention. Now Crohn’s may not affect everyone the same but I wanted to write about my experience and what I know about this.