Crohn's Disease by Rose Wheeler

I'm a 40-year-old wife and mother of two young boys who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in September of 1993. My story begins in Austria in 1990. I am a military spouse who looked forward to a new adventure with my husband, and 2 children who at the time were 3 years and 6 months old. We really were having a wonderful time traveling in Europe, going to places that people save a lifetime to be able to visit. In 1992 my life came to a complete stop. My father became very ill, with open-heart surgery and other serious illnesses. I flew home (California), on an emergency flight to see my father go through a quick successful recovery. Thank God!

A week after my return to Austria my father had two strokes, which left him speechless. I went through a lot of stress to say the least, and this is when my health started failing. The best way I could describe my symptoms was that food was POISON to me. When I ate or drank ANYTHING, within 5 minutes I was on the toilet bent over in severe pain and experiencing hot flashes. I spent more time in the bathroom than any other place in my home. I was very weak, nauseated.  With every bowel movement there was much blood and mucus, and I became seriously depressed. It was very difficult for me to care for my children.

At this time, not knowing what was wrong with me, I could only think that I was actually going to die. My abdomen felt bruised all the time, and the last thing I wanted to do was eat. I then began what seemed a roller coaster ride of seeing different doctors and having different tests done, which to say the least made me in more pain than ever. This was our last year in Austria before returning to the States.

One month before leaving, and many 7 hour trips one way (these trips would take us 10 hours due to me having to stop to use the toilets), the doctors told me the small bowel series revealed findings consistent with Crohn’s disease. I was still not prescribed any meds for my symptoms. The doctors felt it was better to give me a consult to see a doctor for further testing and follow ups, and to begin my medication treatment after our return to the States. I can't express enough how this affected me in a negative way. I really didn't think there was hope for me to get better, only worse.

I then was introduced to marijuana before leaving Austria, and within 1 hour I could not believe that the pain, bowel movements and ALL my other symptoms were relieved. Now my major concern was the illegality of marijuana, and putting my husband at risk in his military career. I had serious thoughts of getting busted and my children being taken from me. I quit the marijuana after a week of smoking it, only to have all those terrible symptoms return.

Once we returned to the states I began taking 750mg of flagyl,1500mg of azulfidine, and 1mg of folic acid per day. My life started to turn for the better. But after two years, I began experiencing migraines and feeling as though I was going to pass out at times. I then chose to try smoking marijuana, and putting my family at risk again with the idea of me getting busted for something I KNEW REALLY helped me. 

I felt no one could know I was smoking, not even my husband. I wanted to so bad tell my doctor how much smoking marijuana had relieved my symptoms, but knew I couldn't.

I never got busted, but I did quit all medications. I will never forget my last visit to my doctor, telling him that my symptoms were gone and I wanted to quit the meds. He agreed with me that the migraines and dizzy spells were a side effect of the meds, but encouraged me to come back if ANY of my other symptoms returned..

I wished so bad that I could have explained.. I have not taken any prescription meds for my Crohn’s since 1995.My only problem now is easy access to marihuana. We now live in a VERY small town in Washington State and I would not only be putting my family in jeopardy but my job, and my life. In the past 6 months my symptoms have come back, and I will have no choice but to go through a complete medical testing evaluation.   I know the doctor will prescribe medications for me to take. I can't explain how depressed that makes me, to know what works for my disease, only to be so let down due to it being illegal.

When I say my prayers at night for family and friends I will be honest to say I pray some day that marijuana will be legal to use in my case. Until then I will continue to be consumed with my disease, and live with the stress of knowing what I'm putting at risk to be able to live a painless life.