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YOU Stories

Craig's Story

Not Alone Anymore

Not long after joining Y.O.U., I knew this group was for me.  It was just what I was looking for.

Let me introduce myself ... my name is Craig, I am 22 years old and have had Crohn's Disease for 11 years.  I was 11 when I was rushed to hospital with bad stomach cramps, I did not know what was going on.  Why was it happening to me?

After extensive tests, which we all know, aren't at all pleasant, I was diagnosed.  I was immediately put on medication and after a couple of weeks was starting to feel great!  Then my worst nightmare, going back to school with the effects of cortisone.   No one recognized me and I soon got the nickname of moon face.  I thought it was the end of the world.  Luckily I had a 6' tall friend and he soon put them back into place, if you know what I mean!.

Well no sooner had things settled down, and bang there I was again back in hospital.  It soon became a part of my life every 3 - 6 months for 4 years.  A bowel resection in 1986 finally got the results I was after.

I left school at 16 because of classes missed.  I just couldn't keep up, so I started to pursue my chosen career and become a professional dancer.  A good 18 months of remission, besides the odd abscess and ulcers and my life was back, to normal.   Cortisone became a part of my life and I must say, a part my family's life as well, with constant mood swings etcetera.

I soon got on top of things and had a great 18 months working in theatre restaurants and touring Australia.  Then it all came to a halt.  Crohn's moved into the large bowel and that was it, my career and social life stopped.  I suddenly found myself all alone.  I didn't know anyone who had the same problem.

In 1990, I was faced with the prospect of a bag - I couldn't even comprehend the thought of it.  I went into theatre not knowing what to expect, but was told that afterwards I would have great quality of life.  As it turned out I only had a section of my large bowel removed and was put on large doses of cortisone once again, to clear the rest up.

Well unfortunately that didn't work and for the next 2 years, I got progressively worse with constant diarrhoea and recurring abscesses.  Through this time my family were such great support, I could not have got through it without them (but get this, I had to put in money for the cost of toilet paper, do you believe that!).   Anyway my quality of life was just deteriorating and I slowly withdrew from everything.  So the time had come, this was it, it had to be done. November 1992.  It was not until about a month later that this thing on my stomach was there for life.   How can I have a normal life now? How can I have relationships with anyone?  How can I do the things 1 love doing?

Then by chance I was given a pamphlet of the Y.O.U. Group, and thought I've got nothing to lose so I joined.  The first time I met the group was at the Movie Trivia Nite.  I found it hard to believe that all these people had been through much the same things that I had gone through, and all the time I thought I was the only one.

They were all so normal, or so I thought, until I got to know them better. (They are zany, crazy, weird and full of fun and I am not going to miss out, so I am here forever.)  It is like I have been friends with them for years since joining, my life has changed dramatically.  I look forward to every meeting and I now have a social life I have been wanting for years!

I realize now there is no limit to what I can do, I have never felt better in my life than how I feel now and I am looking forward to getting back to my career and hobbies.

I am not alone anymore, thanks very much to Y.O.U

["Thoughts of YOU" Editor's Note:  Since writing this, Craig has become a Nurse.]

Reprinted from the "Thoughts of YOU" membership folder.  Most stories were written from the early to mid 1990s.

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