Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week: “Sonya Strong”
For Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, we have been sharing stories about how people not only survive, but thrive with these digestive diseases. Crohn’s nad Colitis are often called “invisible illnesses” because you can’t see them from the outside. They are inflammatory bowel diseases and sometimes fatal. One of our own, Reporter Sonya Goins, shared her battle with Crohn’s disease.
I’ve had Crohn’s disease since 1985. I was in college when I got sick. Thought it was the dorm food. I spent more time at the doctor’s office than I did in class. My symptoms were debilitating; lots of painful stomach cramps, bloody, watery stools.
Doctors first diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis, then after a series of unsuccessful treatments and a lot of tests, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s.
On Jan. 1, 2018, I had a really bad flare, and was put on Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN (IV nutrition). I couldn’t eat any food, just hard candies, broth, water, and coffee on occasion. I endured this treatment for eight months.
Not eating food was mentally challenging. I saw a therapist to help me cope. I also prayed a lot. I’m now hopeful. In fact, that’s what I named my catheter – “Hopeful.”
I’m not letting my situation dictate how I live my life. On March 4, I walked a half marathon. Crossing the New Orleans Half Marathon finish line with my buddy “Hopeful,” is one of my proudest moments.
Crohn’s disease has taken away so many things from me in the past 30 years— eating, peace of mind, relationships. I wasn’t going to let it remove one more thing. The goal was to show just because you have a chronic condition, you don’t have to let it define you. Live your life.
My sickness has made me stronger. You can’t be shy when you’re walking around with a backpack full of IV fluids. I’m more confident at work and in my personal life. I like to tell folks who are newly diagnosed with IBD to hang in there. You can do amazing things with your life despite the horrible diseases. I’m also a Minnesota/Dakota Chapter Crohn’s Colitis Foundation board member.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.
There is no cure for the disease.
For more information about IBD check out the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. http://crohnsandcolitisfoundation.org
And please follow my blog: SonyaStrong.com. You can also find my podcast “Conversations about Crohn’s and Colitis on iTunes and Google Play.