In late January of 2020, I went into the emergency room in the middle of the night. I was soon transported to Nemours DuPont Children’s Hospital. Within my initial stay, I was hooked up to IVs nearly 24/7, had a colonoscopy, and was unsurprisingly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I met a rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist team, a surgery team, and nurses I am forever thankful for. After staying in the hospital for a week, I was discharged with many questions about the future unanswered.
My home life was drastically changed. My mental health wasn’t stable, I missed midterms while in the hospital, had to chair a Blood Drive for Student Council, and at least try to keep up riding horses. My diet was 90% protein shakes and as a high school junior, could not do much with that. I nearly fainted during the Pledge of Allegiance once and I pushed myself to finish the midterms I missed while keeping up with my current school work. I took naps nearly every period and missed half the school days some weeks. The faculty at Garnet Valley High School made the experience ten times better than it could have gone and I am forever grateful for my teachers, mentors, guidance counselor, and the administration.
Things were looking up for a little bit. I got my license, successfully chaired the Blood Drive and the Mini-THON Fundraising Committee, and was looking forward to finalizing my transcript for college applications. My course of treatment was an infusion treatment every few weeks, hopefully beating the inflammation down. Following the first MRI and a second opinion at CHOP, my family and I thought we were out of the woods. Unfortunately, the second MRI told a different story.
In April, the inflammation was back more ruthless than ever before. I went straight from radiology to an in-patient room where I was quickly met with the same fears from the last hospital stay. My body had developed a fistula and needed major surgery to correct it before any permanent damage happened. The pandemic totally changed the course of my mental sanity throughout this stay. No family or friends, except for my mom who stayed with me every waking hour. My boyfriend facetimed me in the hospital room while he was on the hospital lawn. My friends supported me virtually and I kept in close contact with my family. 3 days later, it was finally time to cut my ileocecal valve and 15 centimeters of my intestine out. When I woke, I was determined to cut my recovery time short. Within a day, I was standing up by myself. By the second day, I walked and lifted my medical instruments up to come with me. On the third day, Easter Sunday, I was home to my dog’s faces which I desperately looked forward to.
It took six months in total to go into remission, where I happily and thankfully reside. An infusion treatment every eight weeks helps me stay healthy. So far in my college journey, I have been accepted to 6 schools, including the University of Minnesota, Michigan State, and University of Pittsburgh. I look forward to more decisions coming in from my dream schools. After the predicted graduation of college, I want to apply to become a physician’s assistant and, if a waiver allows, join the Army or Air Force to serve our armed forces. I truly have no words to describe how much I appreciate the works of my loved ones (especially my poor mother!), faculty, my family in faith, and the medical staff at Nemours DuPont. I understand not everyone has been as privileged as I have and I want to do anything possible to make current and future Crohn’s patients feel as secure as possible. We would appreciate any donation and know it goes a long way in our hearts.
More information about Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, Inc.: For over decades, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation has been dedicated to its mission of finding a cure for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and improving the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation has defined itself by sponsoring the best and brightest researchers and seeding the field with groundbreaking studies and research initiative to advance the understanding and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease ("IBD").
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