The following interview with anonymous took place via email.
Q: Tell me about your family.
A: I am a mother of two gorgeous teenagers, ages 15 and 17. I am so proud of my children. My son wants to be a chef and has been accepted at every college he applied to. My daughter is an excellent student and am very happy she did not inherit my lack of math brain. My son has struggled with mental illness for 4 years and it breaks my heart to see him in pain. My daughter is very popular, something I was not in high school. She will not let anybody make a fool of her. We have been a family of 3 for 6 years after my husband left me and we have been each other's support system since then.
Q: When did you get diagnosed?
A: I got diagnosed with Crohn's Disease 12 years ago. I had been suffering for many years and been checked by many doctors but could not get a diagnosis. I got severely sick and was in and out of the emergency room over many months losing an extreme amount of weight; I looked like a walking skeleton and had no energy. I finally got admitted to Ajax/Pickering Hospital where I was told by a doctor that I was depressed and making myself sick and I needed to grow up and be an adult and take control of my life (My family had been fighting for me to see different doctors in an effort to find out what was wrong with me because I was not capable of doing it because I was so ill and I guess he didn't like it). They sent me home where I got even worse over night and my mother had my sister in law drive me to St. Michael's hospital in Toronto where they immediately admitted me and ran tests and diagnosed me with Crohn's. They told my husband I would have been dead in a week if I hadn't been brought there.
Q: How did you explain your disease to your kids? When did you tell them?
A: I told my children right away but had to explain it in simple terms because they were so young. I told them that mommy gets a bad stomach sometimes and I will feel sick but I will be ok. As they got older I explained to them in more detail what my illness was.
Q: How has living with Crohn’s Disease affected your family life?
A: Living with Crohn's has affected my family life in many ways. I would be out shopping with my children when they were young and have an attack and have to spend an hour in the bathroom with my children sitting on the floor of the stall waiting for me to be able to leave. When we went to Prince Edward Island I got very sick as the trip went on and wasn't able to do everything my family wanted me to. I frequently had to make different meals for my family because I wasn't going to let my food restrictions limit them. I couldn't be far from a bathroom on family outings and sometimes still can't. The one thing that sticks out in my mind the most was when my husband was leaving me 6 years ago, he told me that he would have left me before when I was severely sick but he didn't want people thinking badly of him for leaving me then. That broke my heart because I had tried to be the best wife that I could be.
Q: How has Crohn’s Disease shaped you into the mother you are today?
A: I have been in remission for a while now. I am lucky that I have not needed surgery and that medication works for me. I try to be strong for my children even when I feel like crap. I am the parent that takes care of them day in and day out and they need to know that they can count on me. I don't beat myself up if I need to take time to rest because I know if I don't I won't be any good for them. I love them so very much. My children are a gift from God and are very precious. I will not let Crohn's stop me from being the mother that they need me to be. It is just something that I need to deal with sometimes.