Now for something completely different to my usual ramblings:
There are some of you who will be thinking, why on earth are you blogging about an auto-immune disease?
So- I hear you cry- why am I writing this blog?
First of all, my wife has suffered with Crohns for 23 years of her life, she has a very extreme case of it, which unfortunately requires long stays in hospital and more often than not surgery.
Over the last week on my Twitter profile, I have been tweeting about my wifes latest hospital stay, by using the hashtag #CrohnsCrohnicles. Both my wife and I, had some fabulous messages from people sending good thoughts and kind words. For this we are very grateful.
This post is to raise awareness to others about something that has been a very big part of mine and my wife’s lives.
I dedicate this post to my amazing wife and all sufferers of the disease.
Crohns disease was discovered by an american gastroenterologist: Burril B. Crohn.
Crohn published a landmark scientific paper in 1932 identifying the disease that bears his name.
But what actually is Crohns disease?
First and foremost Crohns disease is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (or I.B.D). It has nothing to do with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S). There should be no confusion between the two!
Crohns can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus. The large and small bowel are the main places that it can be found.
Crohns is classified as an auto-immune disease, in which the immune system attacks itself within the Gastro Intestinal tract (or G.I). This appears as inflammation, which as well as being extremely painful can lead to symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and lethargy.
There is no known cure for the disease and no one really knows why it happens. Different theories suggest that crohns is genetic although there are some sufferers that have no traces of the disease in their immediate family or immediate families medical history. Other theories have also been investigated regarding to the establishing of a cause.
Crohns can be treated, usually with very strong steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, (other types of medication are also used to manage the inflammation and treat the symptoms, the example given is one of many).
In the most extreme, chronic cases of Crohns disease, surgery becomes the only option. This is not the case for all patients, in less serious cases surgery is only considered when all other treatments have been explored and/or eliminated.
The surgery that takes place usually involves parts of the diseased bowel cut away, and then the bowel is rejoined; this is known as a re-sectioning. Obviously, there is more than one major surgical procedure, but a re-sectioning is a common operation within chronic sufferers.
The problem then with surgery, is that it can lead to adhesions- when the bowel becomes stuck together and can also stick to the abdominal wall, and also organs!
With adhesions there is nothing they can do other than to unstick them which requires more surgery, which can then lead to more adhesions. unfortunately from this, a vicious circle ensues.
In conclusion: it is an incredibly nasty disease, it can be very debilitating, and very painful in most cases. There are some fantastic studies being done within the field of Gastroenterology and the treatment of Crohns and I.B.D.
If you would like to know more about IBD and Crohns,
the incredible organisation NACC has a lot of information on different types of IBD (Including crohns) and are a fantastic charity to get behind.