Having Crohn’s Disease is an exhausting challenge: physically, mentally and emotionally. It changes your life, your thinking, parts of your personality and even the people around you. You learn to appreciate things that didn’t matter once, and it helps grow your faith in ways you never expected.
My name is Shamena Baksh, I’m 25 years old and I was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease on July 7th 2014. An unforgettable day, it has imbedded a permanent mark in my brain. In my mind all I can think is, “It’s all over what should I do now? Is it worth even living? What if I get worse? No one is going to understand. No one is going to accept me.”
Your mind is the most challenging of all.
At the age of 17 I started experiencing intense pain in the abdominal area, doctors told me repeatedly, it was acid reflux and gas. I was going from one GERD pill to next, with no relief, I was having fevers and complaining about painful bowel issues. A barium meal/ barium enema revealed it was “digestive hurry”; I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Synodrome) at the age of 21. Still the medications for IBS didn’t work. This resulted in more and more doctor visits all with the same conclusion, no complaints found. I became so depressed, but I prayed and didn’t give up. Then I was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called Lichen Nitidus. The doctor told me it’s associated with Crohn’s Disease and not IBS. I paid him no heed, I continued with my normal life that is until the worst pains began.
Week after week, continuously having vomiting, diarrhea, fever and internal bleeding, I rushed back to my doctor telling her my issues. I said “I think it’s actually Crohn’s Disease from all the research I have done, it all sums up to IBD”. After the endoscopies (both gastro and colon), my worst fear realized, the results revealed it was in fact Crohn’s Disease.
I cried myself to sleep and I told myself this is not the hard part, it’s the easy part, I was now diagnosed. It’s better to know than not know. All these years of misdiagnosis and pain, I still fought through school without having a clue and without having the right medication. I still managed to obtain a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology/ Environmental Biology with honors and a Master’s of Science degree in Forensic science with distinction. This helped me regain my strength. IBD takes everything away from you in a second, but it gives you a second chance to have a greater appreciation for the important people and things around you.
I was on steroids, I’m now off. I was on Asacol pills but now Pentasa pills, vitamins, calcium, iron and folic acid, of and on antibiotics and medications for my skin disorder. Crohn’s is not just a disease that affects the digestive system but it affects the entire body, so besides having Crohn’s Disease, I have Lichen Nitidus, I’m anemic, I have arthritis, I suffer from great hair lost, I have ongoing swelling with my veins in my legs and arms, I get abscesses off and on. But I’m alive and I’m proud to say I’m a fighter, a warrior and a woman of faith.
I didn’t gain all this strength on my own, but with support from my parents, my boyfriend, my friends, co workers, strangers and not forgetting the NACCTT. They have all helped me through this ordeal and is continuing is to help me every day. Becoming a part of this group and listening to others and their stories, gives me a sense of comfort, strength, love, of belonging knowing that there are others just like me out there and together we can fight for awareness and a cure.
GO AFTER YOUR DREAMS, EVEN IF IT TAKES 10 YEARS!!!!!!!