You don’t look sick: ‘Crohn’s is more than just trips to the toilet’
Rebecca had never heard of Crohn’s and admits that she thought she just had to take medicine and it would get better.
Rebecca was first diagnosed in December 2014. The yoga teacher and restaurant supervisor from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was going to the toilet more, suffering from stomach ache and was losing weight. A blood test also showed that she was anaemic (low iron levels) and her GP suspected Crohn’s disease. She was referred for a colonoscopy, where a thin flexible tube with a camera inside is placed inside the body through the bottom. The test confirmed that she had the condition.
Rebecca soon realised that this is something that would affect her for the rest of her life. She has periods where the condition is under control but when she suffers a flare-up, she struggles to eat, is in severe pain and can have bowel movements up to 25 times a day. She explains: ‘On a bad day, I wake up early around 4 am as I need to have a bowel movement. I can’t fall back to sleep because of the pain or side effects from medication keeping me awake. ‘I take strong painkillers throughout the day, use hot water bottles to try to help and peppermint tea – anything to soothe the pain.
‘8 am rolls around and I have more painkillers and medication. I go back to bed and maybe watch Netflix or play a game on my phone to try and distract me from the pain – going out of the house or exercising is out of the option as I’m too weak and tired to move. ‘I don’t have breakfast as pain after eating is too much to bear. Around noon, I’ll have a nap, which will last until 5/6 pm. ‘I won’t wake up in between unless I need the toilet as I’m too fatigued. I’ll wake up and have painkillers, medication and toilet trips. ‘My joints will ache and I have headaches but I struggle to eat food as it’s too painful. ‘At night I’ll try to have a dietary shake that the doctors have given me to keep my calories and nutrition up, or something soft like mash potato or soup – we don’t want to aggravate the inflammation in the intestines. ‘I’ll have more painkillers and just sit in bed or on the sofa as moving is too painful and too tiresome. At 10 pm, it’s bedtime – drugs to make me sleep and more painkillers. Then I will wake up it will start all over again. ‘Sometimes I will not go to work for a couple of weeks when having a flare as it would be too much for my body to handle.’