My name is Leah Hersee, I am a 19 year old student who suffers with Crohn’s Disease.
My journey with IBD began in October 2022, however it was undiagnosed and would be for 6 months. I started experiencing abdominal pain, blood in my stools, diarrhoea, swollen eyes, and fatigue however one of the first symptoms I noticed was I always got a type of skin mark just below my eye. My parents thought it was due to eyelash glue and that it was a reaction however I believed that that wasn't the case.
I continued to ignore these symptoms and as expected they got worse. I eventually told my parents and they took me to my local GP. When I was looking up my symptom's before the appointment in which Crohn’s Disease came up, which fitted accurately to the symptoms I was experiencing and I believed that is what I had. My GP thought it was just a tummy bug or maybe a haemorrhoid that was causing it. She referred me to a Gastroenterologist and I waited 4 months for this appointment. In those 4 months I was studying for my leaving cert and doing my mock exams while experiencing all this pain with no reason behind it.
I attend my appointment in April and I discussed my symptoms with the Gastroenterologist who wanted to perform a colonoscopy to take a look at what was happening. Her initial thought was that it was Coeliac Disease. This was not the case and after the colonoscopy I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. I was right. She wanted to refer me to SVUH as I would be with people who have IBD along with doctors, nurses who are trained in this area. It was all so over whelming the medication, appointments, pain and I was doing my Leaving cert which was extremely stressful. Unfortunately I experienced a reaction to MRI contrast and it caused a severe flare just before my leaving cert. I was put on steroid's till my exams were over and I was to start injections after them. After my Exams I began these injections for a month however it didn't work or help at all. I was put back on my steroid's for the time being.
I was working throughout a flare for 3 weeks and attended my debs, when I started to feel very ill during it and was later brought into hospital to have a procedure. My disease was very much active and inflamed and it was no wonder I was in so much pain. I stayed in hospital for 5 days getting treatment and started my first round of infliximab. My Leaving cert results were a week away, thank god I did well and I was delighted with them! I haven't had a period where I have been somewhat well or if i do it doesn't last, there always seems to be something.
It is now December 2023, I experienced the worse flare I've had so far and had to go up to A&E along with a reaction to my medication. I am currently on my 5th round of treatment and this will help decided the next move. I am anxious in what the future holds however, I have the best support through my family and friends, and try as much as possible to live a normal life and look forward to the day I am well again.