The story of my ongoing sicknesses is not one of my favorite stories. As I think about it, I have been sick for a long time, since I was a teenager. When I was younger I never though about how many times a day I was going to the bathroom or how much my stomach bothered me. The number of times I visited the bathroom each day became part of my life. It was just a big joke.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties on my honeymoon that my stomach issues became so bad I knew something was wrong. After over a year of trying different diets and medical testing it was discovered I had Crohn’s disease. At first I took this news really hard. Here I was starting my life off with my new wife, ready to start a family and then to find out that I have an autoimmune disease that will be with me for the rest of my life I was devastated. My doctors tried several different kinds of medication trying to get the Crohn’s disease under control. Finally we found the treatment to put my Crohn’s disease into remission, but the medication had a side effects and I gained 60 pounds.
I had to make major changes in my life. One of the biggest challenges was finding a new career, one that was much less stressful and would help to keep my Crohn’s disease under control. Even though I made significant changes, I still found myself answering emails, having conference calls and writing papers, all with awful stomach pain while in the bathroom at work. Going to the bathroom multiple times a day while in constant pain continued and became part of my everyday life.
Then 4 years ago I started getting sick with a new type of stomach pain. I lost the 60+ pounds I had gained from the medication in just a few months. After months of diets and medical testing, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease as well as my previously diagnosed Crohn’s disease. This was even harder blow for me to deal with. I have a great love for food and now I had been diagnosed with a disease that calls for a complete change in lifestyle and eating habits. After lots of sulking and felling bad for myself, I pulled myself together and put my energy into living a healthier lifestyle. I began going to the gym everyday, riding my mountain bike any time I could and eating all the right foods.
Unfortunately my stomach continued to bother me. At least a few times a month I am up a good portion of the night sick in the bathroom. Other days, I am so sick that it is extremely hard for me to get out of the bathroom and when I am out of the bathroom all I can do is sleep. Living this way has not been easy for me or my family.
While having two autoimmune diseases is plenty to deal with, two years ago I was in the car and my lower back started bothering me. The pain got worse quickly, and within a couple of weeks I was seeing a back specialist. At first we tried physical therapy, and the pain only got much worse. The back specialist had testing done and after several months of testing I was referred to a rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilitis, another autoimmune disease this one attacks my joints in my back and neck. At this point I am overwhelmed by all my health issues, they continue to take a major toll on my body and mind but I push on enjoying my life.
Many times in my life I have been told by the people that love me everything happens for a reason. Part of me believed nothing good could come out of having Crohn’s disease, Ankylosing Spondilitis and Celiac disease. But part of me, the glass half full part, the important part, would never give up trying to find a reason I realized what I really wanted to do is help people that suffer with autoimmune diseases like myself. So I got together with others and the Autoimmune Society incorporated was created. Part of the company’s goals is to create an online community where people with autoimmune diseases and their families could come together and provide support and understanding to people that have similar issues related to Autoimmune Diseases. I look forward to communicating with people on the forums. Drew