Everyone's journey through the IBD diagnosis tunnel is different.
Everyone's trip down the IBD symptom slide is different.
But the common thread for all of us, is IBD itself, whether that be Crohn's or Colitis.
For me, I was finally diagnosed in June 1988 but symptoms started December '87/January '88 soon after returning from a trip to England for my Nan's funeral.
One morning I got up, showered, shaved had breakfast and laid on the couch to watch the news before work as usual. I worked as a retail manager in a large department store chain. Nothing out of the ordinary, but that was the last time my life would be "ordinary".
As I watched the news I started to feel something in my throat, like a gas bubble. I kept swallowing and swallowing to try and get it to move but to no avail. I made a cup of tea to see if that would help and it did....sort of. As I drank, I could feel it move down my throat, into my chest and into my stomach, then the feeling I had to go to the washroom and the sudden urge to have a bowl movement. And that's where and when the pain started.
Just like that.
No inclination of a problem. Nothing leading up to it. No signs. Nothing.
I was 19 years old.
Made appointment with my doctor and he thought it was unusual but went right to testing for a parasite as I had just returned from a trip abroad. Had the usual blood work and added fecal testing. Everything showed up negative of course but the pain now was more and more frequent and soon I started to eat less and less. The fetal position was now common for me. Laying on my bed, curled up, waiting for the "pain train" as I called it, to pass. I could feel the pain coming like an oncoming train, it would peak and then fade away, like the train had passed on to it's destination. I saw two other doctors in the same office when my doctor didn't know what he was dealing with and those two did the exact same tests. Now I have pain, diarrhea and blood all the time and the weight is dropping. Not sure if its from what's happening to me or it's because I'm not eating as much. Every time I ate, pain would soon follow, so why eat if it's going to hurt me.
So far, three doctors are still convinced I picked up some parasite while in the UK. By now, my clothes were hanging on me and I was pulling the belt on my pants so tight, I had to make more holes for the clasp. Keep in mind, this is 1988, there was no internet to "Google" my symptoms. I was at a loss and getting frustrated, angry and sad all at the same time. There was no history in my family.
I started my "IBD journey" at a very healthy and athletic 170 lbs (77 kg / 12 stone). I was a soccer player and a competitive figure skater prior to that. Never was sick. Ever.
I was now around 150 lbs (68 kg / 10 stone)
It's now May/June 1988.
It was the last doctor in the same office that figured it out, just on the symptoms and test results alone. "I think you have Crohn's Disease," he said, "you are showing the same symptoms as another patient of mine that was just diagnosed."
"Crohn's Disease?", I asked, "what's that?"
He went on to explain that it's an inflammatory bowel disease, which he then had to explain what inflammatory bowel disease was. Which now, thinking about it, is kind of funny.
So, I asked, (and I remember this sequence of events very, very clearly) "Okay, so how do we get rid of it?" And his answer hit me hard. "You can't," he said, "you are going to have this the rest of your life. There is no cure for Crohn's Disease."
"There must be something we can do?," my mum asked.
"Other than medications and surgery, there's nothing else I can do," my doctor answered.
I remember the look on my mum's face.
I was 20 years old.......
Next: Part Three