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Student hasn’t let Crohn’s disease battle stop her

By McKenna Cooper
On February 6, 2019

“Something’s wrong with me! I can’t stop going to the bathroom!” I said, sitting at my pediatricians office yet again.

After five months of constant pain and major diarrhea, I demanded they figure out exactly what was causing all these issues. They sent me to the hospital for a endoscopy and colonoscopy.

Side note: if you ever have to do that, good luck. You’ll hate Gatorade for the rest of your life.

Drinking a whole gallon with this nasty powdery mixture to flush out your whole system, will only make you think of that when you try and drink that blue flavored drink at your next soccer game.

After these procedures, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Crohn’s disease.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s an irritable bowel disease that affects all parts of the GI tract.

The good bacteria that helps digest food is signaled as bad bacteria which then the immune system attacks. Since the bacteria is meant to be there, it causes inflammation in the intestines which makes “bruises” in certain areas of the GI tract.

The easiest way to quick-start treatment for people with Crohn’s is to start a steroid called prednisone. I was put on a 30ml dosage, six times a day. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that it’s not the kind of steroid that makes you big and strong.

My gastro told me that sometimes people get side effects of fatigue, bloating, increased appetite, muscle weakness, stomach pain, acne, and increased sweating. I got all of them.

I played soccer for 11 years and that year I couldn’t even run for five minutes before I was doubled over in pain, needing a break.

I weighed 95 pounds which was 25 less than what I should have been. There was one time where I picked up my laptop, but dropped it because I wasn’t strong enough to hold it. This is when the bullying started.

Kids in my high school would talk about me behind my back and ask me why I had gotten so fat.

Since I was one of the smallest, skinniest girls in my grade, it was a big shock to not only me, but everyone in my grade when I started putting on the pounds. One freshman asked me if I was pregnant.

I started to cry myself to sleep and just wished to be normal. It was a low point in my life filled with extreme stomach pain, bullying, weight gain and bloating.

It was then that I found my love for an unusual sport for a girl, football.

Right as I started coming off steroids, towards the end of my failure of a soccer season, I would go out to the field every weekend with my dad and would kick the ball.

I ended up training all year, and tried out for the boys varsity football team in the fall of my junior year. I became the first girl ever to put varsity football points up on the board for my team.

Although I’ve been to hell and back, it’s still not over. I go in for my remicade infusions (treatment) every six weeks to control my disease.

It doesn’t cure it or stop the rushing to the bathroom, but it maintains my disease so I can try to live life as normally as possible. I wasn’t always so accepting of my disease as I am now, but there was a turning point when I was hospitalized my junior year.

You’re going to have to wait until my next column to read about that!

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