(I am thankful for this outlet to tell my story. Like many of us, mine is long and complicated so I will be breaking it up into several parts. This is the first time I am trying to tell my full story in a single community or forum and hope I’m doing it properly.)
Hello, I am Ryan and this is my story.
When I was 27, I finally started to feel like I was in a special place with a new job with a growing company with great potential and was as confident as I had ever been. Then I started having stomach pains, and constipation, and vomiting. I’d had occasional stomach pains and plenty of constipation but not like this. A short hospital stay led to nothing. There was relief but no real diagnosis or effective followup. Several months later, as I was getting settled at work (and my benefits starting to kick in), the pains returned and worsened over the course of a few weeks. But I didn’t do anything, the mentality was if it isn’t bleeding or broken don’t worry about it. It wasn’t one I liked, but one I had been raised with, having parents and grandparents that had old school Italian- and Irish-American attitudes like ‘no blood, no boo boo’ and ‘don’t complain about it.’
Then one evening I was reading an article about Pearl Jam in Relix magazine while on the toilet, unsure if I was going to have constipation or diarrhea, where guitarist Mike McCready explained the symptoms he suffered from Crohn’s and noticed that they were similar to what I was having. Eventually it became too much and I went to the ER, down the road about a mile at the hospital where I was born. Fluids and pain meds get administered and a CT scan is ordered and I vomit up the contrast. When the results come back, the doctor said there was a significant blockage and that he was almost positive it was Crohn’s. To be sure, they needed to go in with a scope to do a biopsy and open up the blockage. Alas, the results came in positive and it started… my journey, battle, fight, or whatever you want to call it. One thing that was made clear to me is that it was never going to end.
In the weeks and months that followed, I started medication and went back to everyday life but with a better understanding of what may or may not cause more inflammation. It wasn’t a real understanding of the disease but instead it was a process to try avoiding a recurrence. This was also the time I began to understand the infinite nature of this condition and began to come to terms with it. There will be times it will be a straight up fight and other times that it will be smooth sailing, but it will always lay beneath the surface. The words of Gregg Allman came to mind as I began coming to terms with the fact that ‘the road goes on forever.’ But I just pushed on, beginning to excel professionally and happier personally. There were bumps in the road, for sure there were plenty of them, yet my outlook remained optimistic despite spending more time on the toilet than ever. It went on like this for well over a year but, like so many countless others with this condition, it wasn’t meant to last forever and eventually it would start creeping back into the fold.