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Let Your Sunshine In

Life's Journeys

Coming Through the Dark

Living with Crohn’s Disease

Simple activities that most people take for granted are out of the question for some people with Crohn’s disease.

As a pre-teen, my stomach upsets caused me to go to the doctor who would say it was a nervous stomach, because I didn’t want to go to school. The doctor prescribed Donital; I believe this was a form of barbiturates, which in my opinion, which was stupid and erroneous to have been given to me, as a teenage girl. This was not the answer to the problem, in my opinion, but just a quick fix or Band-Aid to a greater problem.

At the age of 22, when my son Aaron was a baby, and my daughter Stacy was four, was when I was first hospitalized for four weeks. It was the first time I’d ever been away from my daughter and son, and as I was still a nursing mother, my son had an even harder time with my being gone. I missed my babies, and since I was in isolation I was not allowed to see them.

Due to my being unable to get a medical appointment, as there were none available, I had to wait until I had severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and throwing up FOR OVER THREE WEEKS. I finally had to threaten to go to the emergency room to get an appointment. I was promptly admitted and escorted to a room, which I don’t even remember. I spent three weeks at the Corpus Christi Naval Hospital where my family was told I had Leukemia and had six weeks to live. The Naval Hospital sent me to Brooks Army Hospital in San Antonio, Texas where I went through a battery of tests for a week and it was there that they diagnosed me with Crohn’s.

Over the course of the years I have done quite well on medications.
In 2000 my life came to a screeching halt! What I thought was a routine colonoscopy, became a nightmare. During the colonoscopy they found that I had been perforated and was in serious trouble.

It is hard to recall exactly what happened or what I went through. By this time it was too late and I had to have surgery to remove part of my bowel. After surgery I was so septic from being perforated that I ended up with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Pneumonia, and I also experienced DEATH.
This little-known disease causes inflammation and ulceration throughout the gastrointestinal system. The cause of the illness itself is unknown. Symptoms include; severe stomach pains, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and malnourishment.

All in the space of just a few hours I suffered with internal abscesses and also developed Peritonitis so doctors removed part of my spleen, because it had become gangrenous.
My weight dropped to just 87 pounds, and I became extremely unwell, which landed me in the hospital for ANOTHER four months. Over the course, of the first month, I had three major surgeries to try and stabilize the Peritonitis, Pneumonia, and my blood pressure. The first month that I spent in intensive care, I spent three weeks in a paralytic coma and was completely sedated.

Due to the Death experience I had to learn how to walk, feed myself, and do all the normal daily activities that we take for granted to take care of ourselves. I have ended up MS type symptoms. My doctor calls it an “episode”, she means stroke. The medical professions can’t call it for what it is and that is lack of oxygen to the brain. I never had a stroke. I type with two fingers. I use a walker and wheel chair. I require a care giver for my basic needs, so my hubby can go to work.

A Mother’s Illness
As a Mother, I felt terrible while I was in hospital, especially with the diarrhea because you just can’t get to the toilet in time, it’s very degrading, especially in front of my children.
During surgery it was decided to remove part of my bowel, and given a temporary colostomy. Due to the Death experience, lack of oxygen to my brain, and the Peritonitis, I now experience mobility and function difficulties. My husband Hector had to learn how to change and empty the colostomy appliance and clean my 21” by 4” open surgical incision. Hector IS my ROCK! At first this was very awkward for both of us.

As well being embarrassing, it has been a very difficult adjustment for me and my family because I had always been THEIR ROCK!

Now at 50 years old, and a mother of three, we live in Port Orchard, Washington. The children; Stacey 30, Aaron 28, and Alex 17 have learned to live with their Mother’s illness. Stacey and Aaron come over to get me out of the house, but it’s just easier for me to stay home. I believe that trying to deal with a walker or a wheelchair is just too big of a hassle.

I am extremely motivated to educate people about Crohn’s and other health issues. I am determined to make it less of a tabooed subject as well. Treating the symptoms rather than treating the actual disease is causing a gluttony of side effects for many people, which may actually be exacerbating the illness itself for some. What is the result? More medications are prescribed to counteract the newly acquired symptoms from the originally prescribed medication. It simplifies the previous statement; by saying this is placing a bandage over the original Band-Aid.

I have learned that when the digestive track does not absorb your food properly; you become mal- nourished. The best way for me stay nourished is by taking the King and his court, which includes Durian Fusion, Maximol, Noni, and New Vera. This is the best I have ever felt in my life and my blood work and bone density x-rays are proof!

I have linked arms with other women to help re-educate the population on the importance of good diet, exercise program, nutritional supplementation, pH balance, and hormone balance. All of which is very important to everyone’s health as well as a Crohn’s patient.

I am now 55, divorced and doing better than ever… Another story.

written by Nita Lopez 2006-updated 2013