My name is David and I’m 27 years old.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 18. It all started with abdominal pain and frequent trips to the bathroom and progressed to rapid weight loss.
I lost about 45 lbs. in 3.5 months. As a high school student, this played a massive role on my self-esteem because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t stop my body from feeling ill. The care I received upon diagnosis seemed very slow at first, probably because I felt so poor. That was, until I was placed on a biologic. This treatment worked for about 10 years. Flash-forward to the summer of 2019, and I was experiencing more abdominal pain, but it was different than usual flare-ups. I ended up requiring my first surgery: a right hemicolectomy (removing the right side of the colon and attaching the small intestine to the remaining portion of the colon), caused by 2 fistulas. The rest of 2019 and into 2020 have been a slow and tedious process of trial and error; finding what food and lifestyle choices now work for my body, as well as managing a new biologic.
During my post-surgery recovery, exercise helped keep me motivated. I work as a strength and conditioning coach and have a degree in Kinesiology. I understand and see the benefits of exercise with my clients, and definitely understand the same benefits to be true for those with IBD.
I love the sport and art of powerlifting and bodybuilding. Being able to lift weights, to see myself getting stronger over time and growing larger definitely helps combat negative feelings and self-doubt associated with feeling ill.
Throughout my battles with Crohn’s disease, I have always been surrounded by a strong support system, from my family to close friends. I try to be mindful, keeping a positive mindset, being active and willingly saying “no” to the foods I want, but my body doesn’t respond well to.
If I can leave one message to those just diagnosed or struggling through a hard time in their IBD journey: remember, it will get better! There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel. You can, and you will improve your health. It can be difficult when others don’t understand what is happening, because you look fin on the outside. This is okay, you need to accept this.
Not everyone will understand what is happening to your body. But you do.
Listen to your body, accept it and love who you are becoming!
To read more articles on pediatric Crohn’s and UC, visit the latest edition of our magazine, You, Me and IBD.