• Charlotte Thorogood

Crohns and Me - dealing with the unexpected challenge

Updated: Sep 14, 2018

Anyone that knows me will know that I’m normally on the search for the next challenge. I don’t shy away from running marathons, the mere mention of a Tough Mudder and I’m signed up. Just the other day, I passed my 7.5tonne non-HGV driving test. In fact, I’d go as far to say as I have relished life as a challenge. Over the years it’s made me proud. Both proud of my achievements and proud that nothing stands in my way.

What I’ve realised up to this point in my life is that I’ve been able to choose the challenges along the way. Life has now thrown me a curve ball, a challenge that I didn’t plan for in the shape of Crohns Disease. The unexpected challenge is much harder to deal with, it takes far more strength than a marathon and it places demands on your body that I didn’t think was possible.

Here’s what I’ve learnt in this journey:

I literally love food

Crohns works by having periods of remission followed by flare ups; where your body is basically fighting with itself and seriously damaging your gut. Those flare ups are scary and stop me doing my first love; eating. I’ve been struggling with one for about the last two weeks and have lost a total of 9kg in the last ten days. I mean I could have done with losing a couple, but yet again I’ve taken things too far! For five days I had a liquid diet – and not in the liquid lunch diet that I used to know and love!

It’s made me realise my days revolve around food. You know those times on holiday when all you really speak about is where you’re next meal is coming from. At breakfast, you’ll be discussing what you fancy for dinner. I love that. I love eating. It’s so much more than just fuel for your body. Meals are a time to catch up, reflect and enjoy each others company. When it’s not possible to eat because your body can’t handle it, the days are very long, believe me. Let it be said I'll always appreciate a meal - never take it for granted!

It makes you realise what’s important

I’m the girl that got up and rode her horse before work the day after the London Marathon. I’m pretty tough and strong, but this knocks every ounce of fight from you. Tasks that wouldn’t have even been tasks before take serious mental strength.

When you no longer have the energy to walk the dog in the morning, you realise just how much you enjoy that time out in the fresh air. I might moan about going along to my Body Pump classes, but when you take them away, I miss my routine and my normal. My life is amazing, it’s simple and that’s the way I like it. Something like this really makes you appreciate the little things - and sometimes we all need a little reminder of this.

Being ill is a very scary and lonely place

You put so much trust in the Doctor to take you away from that place. They send you off with drugs and you put your every faith in them working to get back to your little life. I’ve read every article on Crohns on the internet to see how I can help myself, it’s my nature as a proactive person. If anything it just confuses you and makes you feel more helpless. The internet has a lot to answer for!

My husband is an absolute hero. I didn’t expect to test the ‘in sickness and in health’ quite so soon, but it’s safe to say he meant every word in the church. Thank you. When you're unwell, you are so grateful for those tiny gestures like a hot water bottle in the middle of the night. Kindness is a trait that you want in a husband; god, I did well.

Planning for the future is key

Pain is only temporary. The wonder of our modern world is that there will be something that can take the pain away eventually. Unfortunately it’s taking a little longer than I’d hoped!

You’ve got to plan what you want to do when you feel well. It keeps you going and makes you fight a little deeper. At the moment, we’re planning the simple things like being able to go for dinner. Sunday morning lie-ins and walks with Aya, the dog. Those things you take for granted.

Thanks for reading. Crohns Disease is not very well understood and so I hope this has raised awareness just a little bit. It’s a cruel disease, no one has asked for it, it’s not a club you want to be in, but being strong and positive is key.

Keep positive. Enjoy the little things. Smile a little bit more tomorrow. Laugh when something doesn’t go your way. And promise me you’ll savour every mouthful at dinner tonight…

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