Diagnosis and treatments: life with Crohn's disease at 18 years old
3 Jan 2020
Laura, 18 years old, was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in April 2018. Here she recounts her feelings about her diagnosis and the treatments she takes in her fight to live a normal life. Patient testimonial.
Hello and thank you for agreeing to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Laura, I'm 18, I live in northern France and I just graduated. And I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in April 2018.
What were the initial symptoms that told you that something was wrong?
Before I got diagnosed, I had stomach aches all the time, sometimes so bad that it made me cry. I had watery stool, nausea and I was extremely tired. At first, I went to see my GP who has been seeing me since I was a little girl, then my father took me to see a gastroenterologist. Before she diagnosed me with Crohn's disease, the doctor thought it might have been something "simpler" like the stomach flu or appendicitis. Finally, I took loads of tests like a colonoscopy, endoscopy, fibroscopy, MR Enterography and an ultrasound scan and my gastroenterologist broke the news to me that I had Crohn's disease.
How did you feel when you received the diagnosis?
At first, I was just happy to finally put a name on this pathology that was making my life such a headache, but then I also felt angry and afraid. Even today, Even today, it's hard for me to say that I'm going to have to live with the disease for the rest of my life, but I felt relieved that other members of my family aren't affected and I know I have a good doctor and that the people in my life all support me.
Are you satisfied with the support you've received thus far?
Yes, I've gotten a lot of support from health care professionals following my diagnosis. The only thing is, no one has referred me for psychological support. They talked to me about some aspects of Crohn's, but I'm still discovering more even today.
What do your treatments consist of?
I've been on Imuran for 11 months now and everything is going well for the moment...they haven't discovered any stoma in my digestive tract.
How did your family react?
My family supported me, but I lost contact with a few people who were afraid of the illness, but I don't hold it against them, because they understand it.
How are you now?
Since I began experiencing symptoms, I have to go to the toilet more often, I'm always hungry, I talk about what's going on in my gut with those closest to me… and I sleep a lot! My plans for the next few years still aren't very clear, but I'd love to work with young children as a teacher, and I'd also like to dedicate myself to advancing the cause of people affected with digestive disorders.
Any advice for people newly diagnosed with Crohn's?
If someone thinks they might have Crohn's, I'd tell them to get several tests done to make sure. To those who are newly diagnosed, I'd tell them to talk to the people who closest to them and ask for their support. And not to shut themselves away from everyone, because we're never all alone in this. Join sites like Carenity where you can find lots of people willing to support you and also answer your questions. And especially to take life by the horns, don't stay down even if you're feeling down, have a good cry and get back up, with your head high and dance to Beyoncé!