Crohn’s Disease – Diagnosis Journey

This blog is based on my experience, aiming to edu-kate people who are experiencing similar ongoing gut related issues to be tested for Crohn’s Disease. Early diagnosis may reduce the likelihood of surgery. 

April 2015 – New Job, New Town – Crohn’s Not Diagnosed

After a few days moving to Far North Queensland and starting my new job I experienced symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sweats and Fevers

As I was living in the Single Person Village (mining town camp) until my housing was ready, I believed it was just food poisoning from the camp food. I didn’t go to the doctors, I thought it would just pass. It did, after 5 days.

July 2015 – Bramwell Rodeo Camping Trip – Crohn’s Not Diagnosed

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Winning the Jelly Eating Competition at Bramwell Rodeo (that night I got very sick, thought it was just the jelly or the water)

During and after a 2 night camping trip to Bramwell Rodeo (in Far North Queensland), I experienced more symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sweats and Fevers
  • Severe weightloss (6kg in 9 days).

I went to the doctors and was prescribed with antibiotics as it was thought that I had contracted Giardia. I provided a stool sample to get tested. The symptoms persisted after the first course of antibiotics and the stool sample returned negative. After returning to the doctors I was prescribed with another course of antibiotics. The GP was still convinced it was Giardia as it was going around town. After the second course of antibiotics my symptoms reduced so no further tests were undertaken.

July 2015 – September 2015 – Continual Gut Problems – Crohn’s Not Diagnosed

After my “giardia episode” I continually had cramps (severe enough to disrupt my sleep), my appetite disappeared as it hurt to eat, a number of diarrhoea episodes daily and fatigue. During these months I was training for the Sunshine Coast Half Ironman, in September. I returned to the doctors and it was believed that my body was just recovering from “giardia” and I may experience IBS symptoms for a few months.

With that knowledge I continued to push through and train for my half ironman despite struggling physically. I completed the half ironman (walking most of the run before heading to the medical tent). I was not well.

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Day before I completed a half ironman with active flaring Crohn’s (unknown to me).

The next few days I was very sick and I thought it was a result of pushing myself too hard at the event.

October 2015 – Trip to the tip of Queensland, Cape York – Crohn’s Diagnosed

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Last trip before diagnosis (a week after the half ironman)

After returning from a trip to the northern most point of Queensland I discovered blood in my stool and collapsed in my bathroom after excessive diarrhoea and vomiting. I immediately went to the doctors where bloods and a stool sample were taken.

My inflammation marker was extremely high (the highest the Weipa Hospital had seen). I was fortunate that a Gastroenterologist was coming to Weipa that week (a Gastro visits Weipa every 3months).

That week I had my first colonoscopy.

Findings:

  • Inflammation in the caecum and at the ileocaecal valve.
  • Stricture at the ileocaecal valve (scope could not see my small intestines).

The biopsy confirmed I had Crohn’s Disease. I was prescribed with steroids in hope that it would reduce my inflammation and that it was localised.

However, symptoms persisted even on steroids and I was required to have an MRI so they could see my small intestines.

It was confirmed that the inflammation had been there too long and therefore had scarred (stricture) in my large and small intestines. I required urgent surgery to remove this section.

January 2016 – Right Hemi-Colectomy – Bowel Surgery

I required a Right Colectomy, removing approx. 40cm of my large/small intestine, including the ileocecal valve (along with my appendix).

 

Stay tuned for my next blog post on detailing my first time surgery and hospital experience.