Crohn's is known to skip generations and our family is no exception. My dad got his diagnosis when he was only 26 and had his ileostomy before I was born. It was years after our son was dealing with this often silent illness that we learned my oldest brother's daughter and my youngest brother's son both live with Crohn's. Our youngest son Van was a junior in high school, when he started complaining about not feeling well. V
an’s symptoms would come and go over the next year and doctors would say it was the stomach flu, something he ate, etc.
It wasn’t till after he graduated that his symptoms became worse. It took 2 years to get the diagnoses of Crohn's disease. Unfortunately, because he was too ill, he could not continue in college. He wasn’t eligible for my insurance. No dad ever wants to see his son in so much pain he is on the floor in a fetal position and nothing you can do to help him. And with tears in my eyes I prayed to God He would give it to me and not him.
Then my company downsized again. We found ourselves with no insurance and no job. Our son Van was so ill and in pain seven days a week. The treatments to control Crohn's disease was not working.
This was a stressful time in our lives. The medical and hospital bills were mounting quickly. Our savings and what we could pull out of the 401k was depleted.
There was some good news though…
Vans treatments seem to be working and he could go several days managing the pain. We were told that he could claim disability because he would not be able to hold a job.
My wife and I made the decision that it would not help Van to be on disability. We felt that it was as good as telling him there was no hope or future and this was it. Having learned from my own chronic illness at 14 years old, it was important to encourage Van life does go on and you can live a full life despite the cards you are sometimes dealt.
Van was interested in mechanics and trucks; I suggested the idea of teaming up and getting his CDL license to drive eighteen wheel trucks. My thinking was when Van is ill I could drive and, in the meantime, Jane got a job with an electronics company to help with expenses.
Van was excited and we had not seen that in a long time. Off to trucking school, Van and I both passed our CDL license. I had to sign a five year contract with a trucking company to be able to team up with my son. Van became extremely ill almost immediately and had to come home. I had to drive the truck by myself. This was definitely not the plan I had hoped to accomplish.
Van was admitted to the hospital again, but this time he was in so much pain the doctors could not give him any more medicine without the fear of overdose. Five days later the doctors were going to dismiss him from the hospital. There was one doctor who started to lower his pain medication and realized that something was wrong. Van went into emergency surgery and had over four feet of intestines removed. The intestines had perforated and were leaking.
After Our Crohn's Diagnosis
Fast forward to today, Van is healthy and pain free. He has a great job he loves with advancements in his company. He is married and building his family with his wife, Terri. What he went through has shaped him and made him stronger and determined, always willing to take on challenges that come. He has learned a mindset that the little things really don't matter. He continues to make us proud.
The medical bills were in the hundreds of thousands. I continued to drive a truck for several years and eventually went back to the corporate world with a company that utilized my technical skills and ability to teach. In many ways our lives may not be that different from yours, even if the challenges have been different.
With my family history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Crohn's disease, arthritis and pulmonary disease we began to take our health seriously and to be pro-active versus re-active with our health. The best way to learn about wellness is through someone close to you who has had a wellness experience.
Our search introduced us to understanding more about focusing on the root cause not the symptoms. We’ve spent years calling doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies the "health industry," when in reality these businesses are truly the "sickness industry." The $2 trillion we spend on medical care is concerned almost exclusively with treating the symptoms of illness. On the other hand, the wellness industry includes products and services that promote wellness rather than responding to illness—this includes nutritional supplements, super foods and juices, personal trainers and “alternative care”.
Our research has shown the Gut-Brain-Axis is being found more and more to be tied to many of the diseases people are battling today. That not only is physical health important but that our mental health and stress resiliency is paramount to finding success in the journey. Having experienced this first hand in our own family - we got hooked.
Hardy Healthy Gut is our mission to educate and support others who are navigating their way to better health. We look forward to hearing your story and helping you find the solutions in your health that can help your family as much as it has impacted ours.