Vanessa has been suffering from Crohn’s disease for 9 years, a chronic inflammatory bowel pathology. This debilitating illness has disrupted his daily life. She explains her fight against this disease.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Vanessa : Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. It can affect any part of the digestive tract.
How did you detect this disease?
Vanessa : I had a lot of stomach aches, diarrhea… I tried to treat myself with different medications but I didn’t know at all what I had. I finally decided to have surgery because the diarrhea irritated me a lot and the pain was very omnipresent. After the operation, the surgeon advised me to consult a gastroenterologist to find out if it was related to something else. I had blood tests, a colonoscopy and after 4 months, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
How did you treat this illness?
Vanessa : Initially, I had treatment with corticosteroids, which lasted around 3 months. It helped reduce inflammation. However, I relapsed and was put on anti-TNF treatment. The latter aims to delay long-term alterations and thus helps me feel better about my intestines.
What are the side effects of anti-TNF?
Vanessa : A lot of fatigue, I also get dizzy so bad that I can’t get up. I also have nausea and stomach aches.
How do you administer the treatment?
Vanessa : I had the choice: either to give myself infusions every 2 months at the hospital, or to inject myself. At first, I didn’t really feel ready to inject myself so I opted for infusions. Then, I turned to injection treatment because it allows me to be more free. I don’t have to stay in the hospital for half a day, it’s a real time saver.
What are the constraints linked to this disease?
Vanessa : During flare-ups, I go to the toilet a lot because I have severe diarrhea and stomach pain. I am very tired and therefore have difficulty concentrating and listening to people. This is particularly linked to treatment. For example, when I’m shopping, it can be very disabling, especially when I’m in the middle of a queue and I have a pressing desire.
How do you manage these constraints?
Vanessa : For 3 years, I have worked at home in order to better manage my trips to the toilet and my fatigue if necessary.
Can Crohn’s disease be cured?
Vanessa : We are not talking about cure but about remission because unfortunately there is no treatment to cure Crohn’s disease.
Do you have a message to convey?
Vanessa : Fight because research is progressing. I’m sure that one day we will be able to live normally, like everyone else!