Editor's Note: This blog is the first in a two-part series chronicling Sue's experience as a mom to a child with Crohn's disease. The more clinical information in her blog has been reviewed by a physician. Click here to read part 2.
Recently I heard of another young boy diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and it made me think back to those scary days when our son, at age 11, was first diagnosed. He’ll be 27 soon, and he has lived with this condition longer than he has lived without it. Of course, just like people are different, so are their reactions to medications and treatments. So, his experience is not the same as everyone with Crohn’s, but I thought it might be helpful to address some things that may resonate with others who live with this or other chronic conditions.
For those who may not know, Crohn’s disease is the common name for Regional Enteritis, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Unlike ulcerative colitis or some of the other inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. It most often affects young people, ages 15-35, but can occur at any age. Although the symptoms can be treated and they sometimes go in remission, there is no cure.
He complained of stomach aches and tiredness for a while, but we thought it was what he ate, not enough sleep, and/or perhaps the stress that comes along with being a pre-teen in sixth grade. Looking back, he had these vague symptoms for probably a few months. After a while they began to get worse, and that is when we headed straight for our family doctor.
A blood test was done, which came back right away and showed severe anemia. Our son was bleeding somewhere internally. The next step was a lower GI, which came back negative – but our physician and the radiologist both suspected Crohn’s.
We were then referred to a gastroenterologist who scheduled a colonoscopy, which confirmed it was Crohn’s. All in all, it took just a few weeks after that first doctor’s visit to get a diagnosis.
Watch our blog tomorrow for the next part in Sue and her family's story.