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.