Lauren: My Crohn’s Disease Story
Hi, my name is Lauren, I’m 33 years old and I’m living with Chronic Illness.
The majority of my life has been plagued with chronic pain and illness. I really don’t remember a time when I’ve felt “well”. It all started around the time I was 13 and I was put on drugs for acne which triggered gastrointestinal symptoms.
"I finally had an answer for my mystery illness - Crohn’s Disease."
After 7 years of suffering through my teens with Emergency Room visits, constant school absences, doctors appointments and just general unexplained pain, nausea, and plenty of distress at 21, after an unnecessary appendectomy, I finally had an answer for my mystery illness - Crohn’s Disease.
I was shattered. I felt like my world had ended. Although feeling vindicated that my illness wasn’t all in my head, having a serious, incurable Autoimmune Disease was NOT something I wanted. I spent a year in and out of hospital trying to get my illness into remission. At one point I suffered a bowel perforation, got septicemia and nearly died.
"It’s led to depression, anxiety, and medical PTSD. However, I persist."
Fast forward 11 years and I’ve since now been through a benign Bowel Tumour resection, a Brain Tumour (Meningioma) that required a Craniotomy (unfortunately my Neurosurgeon wasn’t able to remove the entirety of my tumor), Seizures, Endometriosis, Adenomyosis (both were diagnosed via Laparoscopic surgery, which I’ve had 3 of for Endometriosis) Migraines, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia. It’s been a long, hard road. It’s led to Depression, Anxiety, and Medical PTSD. However, I persist.
Every day I get up and I keep going. I run my two small businesses from home, which gives me purpose and keeps me sane. I also have an incredible support network, including my loving family, friends, and the invaluable online chronic illness community, for which I am eternally grateful. Don’t get me wrong, there have been very bleak moments where I have not wanted to keep going. It felt impossible. But my loved ones pulled me out and propelled me forward. I wouldn’t be here today without them.
Living with Chronic Illness is a tough gig, but one doesn’t have a choice whether they want it sadly. If I could give anyone living with illness advice it would be to try your best to stay positive, always advocate for yourself, find a good therapist, never be too proud to ask for/accept help, and lastly don’t ever give up!