Hugh’s Story

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The following is a work that Hugh Whittaker wrote about Crohn’s for school 
for an autobiographical assignment

INNER DEMONS

By Hugh Whittaker

Crohn’s disease.  A painful, debilitating illness, affecting one in 1500 people, 20% of which are children and one of which is me.  This ulceration in my case caused sharp stomach pains, diarrhoea and general queasiness and vomiting.

My first year at Camberwell Grammar School had gotten off to a good start and I was now relaxing after a short first term.  It was first term holidays and I was spending it down at our families’ beach house.  The waves were good, the weather was nice and just as I was beginning to enjoy Australia’s success in the Commonwealth Games it hit.  Possibly the worst gastro I’d had in my entire life.  I was out of action for days, vomiting and having nothing but water.

Following this bad gastro came more ill feelings and with them more doctors’ appointments.  It started off at my GPs with a blood test and various antibiotics.  Various diagnoses came and went, just as it seemed we had the answer we would be proved wrong some way or another, be it contradictory blood test results or failed antibiotic treatments.  This was very hard on me.  Inevitably, I was transferred to a gastro specialist and soon I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  The correct diagnosis had taken months to surface, it was now June 2006.  Although I had been diagnosed with a serious disease I felt relieved that it had finally been diagnosed and I could get treatment.

However, the thing with Crohn’s is, it’s extremely hard to treat, as a cure has not yet been proven.  Once again I got bombarded with different medications: prescription, over-the-counter medication and even homemade remedies.

One by one the various medications failed.  Just as it seemed a symptom was fading another one would appear.  Just as things started to look up my health would collapse and I would suffer another relapse.  From my bed I watched school terms and holidays fly by.  It wasn’t long before all conventional medications had failed in some way or another.

Guided by Internet stories and blogs I found myself on a plane to Sydney.  After a long consultation I was sent on my way back to Melbourne, stocked up with a supposed miracle drug.  My treatment started straight away and it seemed that I was getting gradual improvements. At Christmas time I felt the best I had for six months and I thought it was all behind me.  I relapsed soon into the New Year.  I was sick on and off for a lot of the first half of the year, the new treatment had failed.  This all came up to a climax in mid June 2007 where I was admitted into hospital.

The surgery found a small area of inflamed bowel.  After I was released from hospital I continued to get periods of illness.  As a last resort to this disease that had thus far been impossible to defeat I started to get treatment, taking a drug which had been earlier dismissed because of its risks with causing cancer.  It is now five months later and I still feel almost as good as ever.  After almost two years I may finally have conquered these inner demons.  I may have.

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