Just how serious a disease can be may not hit home until you or someone you know and love develops it. In July, one of two sisters was identified as a Crohn’s sufferer, to the shock of her parents.1 “Suzy” was never a complainer, and she seldom said much once she began medication, although she had bouts of sickness. Then in November she had days of nausea, vomiting, and sleeplessness. It was time to plan for surgery.
A Few Particulars
One of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Suzy and her family discussed with the prospective medical team her Biblical stance on rejecting blood transfusions. At one time this would probably have caused difficulty, as surgeons were not inclined to operate without blood. The point of view of the Witnesses is now frequently respected by physicians-so much so that there are now hospitals throughout the country who proudly offer surgery without it to people not Witnesses.
The doctor spent a good hour discussing with the family-including Suzy-what they and she could expect, being quite frank about the matter. Surgery was scheduled for the very beginning of December 2010. Her friends and family were notified of the event, and about a dozen showed up and were given a special waiting room, including the parents, grandparents, an aunt, some close friends of the family and members of the congregation.
Conversation went back and forth from serious to lighthearted, but underlying it all was concern for the outcome of Suzy’s surgery. How extensive would it be? Would she suffer much? And not spoken, but in some of our minds-would Suzy have to wear a colostomy bag? A nurse was told to update the parents on her condition at hourly intervals. The operation lasted approximately 4-1/2 hours.
Enter the Doctor
The doctor-one of excellent reputation-came to us at the conclusion of things, and rather than asking the parents to leave the room to talk to them, addressed all of us. He informed us that Suzy’s condition was considerably worse than diagnostic procedures had indicated. He asked if Suzy was in much pain for an extended period. The parents told him, no. She never was a complainer. The doctor then said these facetious words, yet in a serious tone: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” She had to have been in great pain. Although we were shocked (she never gave indication of this), we were amazed at the strength of will of this young girl who looks so delicate-like a flower. Then Suzy’s mother asked the doctor, “Since we only discovered in July our daughter has Crohn’s Disease, when do you think she first developed symptoms?” The doctor replied, “She’s had it for at least two to three years.”
He was not able to restrict himself to surgery through the navel area, but had to make two additional small incisions. Instead of having a single area of approximately six inches in length to deal with, he had to remove two feet of intestine that was unsalvageable. There were two other areas for which remediation was possible; there was also slight damage elsewhere, which was left untreated for now.
What Does Her Future Hold?
Crohn’s Disease is a genetic disease. Suzy’s father has a cousin who shares the disease. He is the only known family member to have Crohn’s. The terrible heritage of this disease for Suzy is that she can have further episodes some years down the road, or as little as a few months from now. It may make it more difficult for her to marry; if she does marry, her descendants could develop the dread disease. Her attacks, if plentiful, will make her life difficult. Despite all of this Suzy has a bright future. She knows because she is doing her best to apply Bible principles and that God will reward her with a renewed life-a real life-under conditions brought to our earth by the Kingdom of God. Meanwhile, her family and friends (that includes me!) look forward to Suzy’s return and pleasant smile.
1 “An inflammatory bowel disorder which can occur from mouth to anus, but most commonly affects the terminal ileum. Medical and surgical treatments are often required.” – Bowel and Keyhole Clinic.
National Digestive Diseases Informational Clearinghouse
National Human Genome Research Institute