What’s Your Story? Meet Denis!

Denis (22) shares his story and information about Crohn’s Disease, as part of the Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week which starts on the 1st of December untill the 7th of December! People just like Denis will be sharing their stories for the next week or so via social media!

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves chronic inflammation of all or part(s) of your digestive tract. IBD primarily includes Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Both usually have symptoms that include severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.

Before Crohn’s I was how would you say an active person, outgoing, full of energy and always happy. One day I got really sick. I was in 5th class just aged 12 and at the time i was with my friends enjoying school. Then that one day where I was sick my life changed forever.

In the first few months, I noticed I was losing weight and not eating, any time I did eat I would get sick. At the age of 12 I weighed about 5 stone (or 31.75kg). Basically, I was all bone which was really scary not just for me but my family, too. Between doctor appointments and hospital appointments we could not figure out what was wrong for 5-6 months. I got referred to Crumlin hospital and I was admitted straight away to find the cause of my problems. Not many people would have known until now that I had a upper endoscopy and a colonoscopy!

After days of waiting for the results to come back we finally got a call to go into the doctor’s room. He sat me down at the table and said “Denis you have a condition called Crohn’s disease”. I will always remember it because at the time I didn’t know what it was and it was a shock at that age. I was given medications to help control the disease from day one which includes Steroids, Asacol and Mecaptipurine. Luckily, my friends at school were really understanding and it really helped at school after my diagnosis. Still to this day I take Asacol, Folic Acid, B12 Injections and Calcium. There is NO CURE for Crohn’s disease at present. The bad side to the medications are the side affects, for 12 weeks during my steroid treatment my face went like a balloon, also known as “Moon Face.” At that age I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone who asked. Crohn’s can be very exhausting, one minute you can be full of energy and the next minute you feel like you want to sleep for a week. I have to be careful of what I eat because some foods can give me cramps and cause a flare up. For many it is also really similar and it can cause a flare up anywhere in the digestive tract, which can make you really sick if untreated. Of course, there is a lot more to this disease than that! So if anyone has questions please ask me and don’t be embarrassed by it!

Now at 22 years old it has been 10 years since my diagnosis. I coach an under 12’s soccer team and have been for 3 years, it really helps to keep me going! Life hasn’t been easy, relationships have been hard as this illness has given me low confidence but life goes on! I’m in remission now and fighting like never before!


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