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Caring for My Husband's Crohn's

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Cooking With Crohn's Disease

Dining out when you have Crohn's can be difficult, but it's not as hard as you may think as long as you look for quality.

My husband, Mike, began experiencing the symptoms of Crohn's disease in his twenties, but no doctor could figure out the problem. One night, a few months after the symptoms started, Mike began experiencing intense stomach pain. We rushed to the emergency room. It turned out he had a bowel obstruction and needed surgery to fix it. It wasn't until the surgery that the doctors identified the real culprit: Crohn's disease.

The 10 years following his first surgery were tough. There were times when Mike was fine, and then there were times when he was really sick. He tried different medications and lifestyle changes, but inevitably, the night sweats would return, he'd suffer from excruciating stomach pain, and he'd stay in bed for days. He'd eat what he could, but remained very thin.

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that injures the intestines. People with Crohn's discuss living with the disease.

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.


So, in the summer of 1995, ten years after his first operation, his doctors performed another surgery meant to ease his symptoms. It didn't work out like they anticipated. It took Mike an entire year to recover. Within that year, our son was born, which was a wonderful gift. But months later, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

We had hit rock bottom.

Honestly, we took comfort in knowing things could only get better - they couldn't possibly get any worse. After everything Mike was dealing with, it felt like a double whammy. And we were concerned about what it meant for our child, growing up with two parents with such chronic conditions.

Part of Mike's recovery from the surgery meant he couldn't eat anything, in order to give his intestines a chance to rest. The doctor sent a visiting nurse to our house five times a week to administer total parenteral nutrition (TPN) into Mike's arm. Basically, TPN includes all the nutrients that people need, like sugar, carbs, proteins, lipids, electrolytes and vitamins. While Mike's nurse set up the TPN, another visiting nurse would be next to me, checking my white blood cell count.

During this period, as you can imagine, I completely reworked every aspect of my life. And I realized that I'd learned how to handle my own chronic condition from Mike. I could now deal with scary thoughts and figure out how to move forward.

I learned over time to view Mike's condition as a chronic thing that would come and go, not as an illness that was going to kill him. So when my own lymphoma threatened my health, I knew from the start how to frame it. It wasn't like I was walking down a road that ended in death. I was walking down a road with ups and downs, good times and bad times. I'd already lived with one chronic condition - realizing that made it easier to live through another.

Mike's mother once said to me, "If we all threw our troubles into a circle, and we had a choice to pick out anything, we'd pick out the same ones again. Because that's what we know and understand." She was absolutely right. When I was faced with my own mortality, and not just my husband's, I was mentally and emotionally prepared to fight it and win. I've learned that you have to take every day you're offered. I'll admit that I'm not always so good at this. But you learn to appreciate the good times, and they'll get you through the tougher times.

What kept me sane was understanding that nothing is permanent. During Mike's endless days in bed and throughout my chemo treatments, my mantra was always, "This, too, shall pass." Something is always going to change. It's going to shift. And that shift might not always be better, but it will be different. And you'll come out the other side better prepared for life than you were before.

After months of struggle, we came out the other side. The experience only strengthened our relationship. I always say to people that, having lived through that, we can make it through anything.

We're both healthy now, and life is getting back to normal. We're having more good days than bad days, and I'm focusing on the good ones.


Jan D. is a middle school teacher who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Mike, a feature film producer. These are not their real names. 


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Medical Reviewers: Lloyd, William C, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 11, 2014

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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