Carol - Interview 10

Age at interview: 66
Brief Outline: After suffering severe abdominal pain and weight loss, Carol was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease aged 26. She had a major resection of her bowel and has remained largely free of Crohn's symptoms.
Background: Carol is a retired administrator and is married. Ethnic background/nationality: Jewish

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When Carol was 26, she experienced severe abdominal pain which was followed by mouth ulcers, a back rash and intense night sweats. Over the period of several months, Carol had all sorts of tests but the doctors could find no cause. She reduced her working hours, began to lose weight and eventually ended up in bed for a week with daily morphine shots administered by her GP to manage the pain. At the end of that week, Carol was admitted to A&E where it was decided she needed exploratory surgery to establish the problem.
During the operation, it was discovered she had Crohn’s Disease and a top surgeon in that area performed a major resection of her bowel. It took Carol three or four months to recover from the operation and to resume eating properly. Over the course of six months, she had lost around three stone and felt debilitated by the surgery.
Since then, Carol has had a couple of episodes that appeared to be Crohn’s and she has been hospitalised twice. On neither occasion was Crohn’s confirmed and Carol thinks that it is a testament to the skill of the surgeon that she feels that Crohn’s has not played a role in her life for the past forty years. She experienced some arthritis in her thirties which the consultant said could be related to the Crohn’s but otherwise, has been in good health.

Carol’s grandmother and her mothers’ siblings all experienced bowel problems although none were diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.  


Carol was 'knocked sideways' by having an operation for Crohn's disease as a young person.

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Carol was 'knocked sideways' by having an operation for Crohn's disease as a young person.

Emotionally how long did it take you to recover from that period of time?
I think it knocked me sideways having such a major operation at such a tenderish age. I was the first in my family of all my cousins of which there are many, to have such a serious occurrence. I was singled out for special treatment by my family inasmuch as ‘don’t do this’, ‘I’ll do this’, ‘don’t lift that’, ‘I’ll lift that’. Everybody sort of walked around me with cotton wool and its something that I wasn’t used to. So emotionally… that’s a good question. I would say for the best part of nine months I wouldn’t go out. I did have a social life before all this happened. I had friends of course. We would go dancing or wherever we would go mixing in London’s Jewish social scene. But this knocked my confidence and it was very difficult. And friends move on if you are not in contact with them and at the age of 26 it was really difficult to… they found boyfriends and husbands and I was not even stepping the toe on the dance floor.
So it did take me quite a while to get back into actually where I was. I returned to work and obviously you have office friendship, but they’re not the same as personal friendships. It did take me I would have thought, coming up to a year to get myself back to where I was. And that was a big thing.
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