I went to a Jesuit high school, which had its ups and downs. At an all-male institution, the level of maturity can swing pretty drastically. One legacy of my education that I appreciate, though, is the culture of service. At Prep, we were taught to be ‘men for others,’ and while I took it for granted at the time, I’ve come to realize how valuable it was to learn as a young man. Helping others is the bedrock of both family and friendship and can provide a sense of purpose unmatched by anything else in life.
I’ve volunteered in various capacities since graduating high school, but I’ve realized that in order to make the commitment I wanted, the cause needed to be personal. Naturally, I came to Crohn’s Disease. I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2004, after losing 50 pounds over the course of my 8th grade school year. For those who haven’t heard of it, Crohn’s is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is an autoimmune disease affecting the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly the small bowel or the colon. There is no cure, and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and intense abdominal pain. As a result of Crohn’s, I’ve been hospitalized a dozen times and will likely undergo my first surgery in the next 12-18 months.
At the same time, I could have it much worse. Biologic medication, specifically infliximab, has made my disease very manageable. I can generally eat what I want and consume alcohol and caffeine, which many IBD patients wouldn’t dare attempt. My surgery, a partial bowel resection, will be my first and is elective; while it will improve my quality of life, it is not an emergency procedure, which many suffering from Crohn’s are forced to undergo. I still have my small bowel and my colon, as opposed to many IBD patients who rely on ostomy bags after multiple surgeries have cut out swathes of their GI tract. Since I began taking infliximab, my experience at different infusion centers over the last four years has allowed me to meet some of these truly inspirational people.
This website is the brainchild of my desire to become more connected to fellow Crohn-ies (if this is trademarked, I apologize) and also give a greater role to service in my life. It will have multiple purposes: I will detail my involvement with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), which does a tremendous amount to help promote IBD awareness and fund research. I’ll also share my personal experiences with small bowel Crohn’s, which have included fistulization and a severe stricture. If I’ve learned anything over the last 12 years, it’s that there is no such thing as too much advice with respect to symptom management, one area where medical doctors often fall far too short. As a corollary to this, I will also share what nutritional plans and exercise regimens have worked for me, particularly while flaring.
More than anything, I will try to make the contributions as positive and optimistic as possible. Crohn’s is shitty enough (pun intended) without making it worse with a bad attitude. For those struggling with IBD or hoping to learn more about it, hopefully this site will provide some brief relief – which, as any patient will tell you, makes all the difference in the world.
From the Blog
Before I begin, I feel I should state the obvious: I am not a doctor and I have no medical training (unless you count CPR training when I was a camp counselor in high school). If you have IBD and feel it’s an emergency, please go to the hospital. Having said that,...
Last summer, I worked as an event volunteer at the CCFA Take Steps fundraiser and walk in Santa Monica, CA. I had previously done several walks as a participant, but this was my first time working the event. For anyone who has thought about attending or volunteering,...