A Day in the Life of a Crohn’s Flare Up

Well, today was difficult…not because of anything that went wrong per se but because sometime during the night my Crohn’s decided that it hadn’t been active enough and I’ve been dealing with a “flare-up” all day.

Now, my flare-ups for the past many years have been mild and probably to many sufferers of Crohn’s non-existent. I have a feeling of bloating, sporadic pain – but today only a few spasms that were strong enough for me to double over – one incident of vomiting (more on this later), and a lot of noise and rumbling from my mid-section. Oh, and my favorite sensation, hunger “pains” with Crohn’s pains which leaves me wanting to eat but realizing that if I do I’ll pay for it dearly. But, temptation is always there and I finally gave in early this evening. I’ll tell you all about it but first let me set the scene…

For those who don’t know me personally, I consider myself an actor (director, playwright, whatever) and for the past 32 years or so community theatre has been my passion. I perform mostly with the Monroe Community Players (MCP) in Monroe, Michigan and have gone so far as to be active at the state level, including four terms as president, with the Community Theatre Association of Michigan (CTAM). Well, because of my affiliation with MCP I was invited to help out at a concert tonight with the Monroe Community Symphony Band, directed by Mark Felder who coincidentally has two children who suffer from Crohn’s but that’s incidental to my tale, and introduce a few of the numbers while portraying some famous people from the movies. I got to be Charles Kane, Otis (from Superman) and an agent of SHIELD. A quick, simple gig for the most part but fun and enough to quench the acting bug’s thirst for a while (I’m between shows). What could go wrong?

That takes us back the Crohn’s flare up. I made it through the work day, though I got very tired during an afternoon meeting – which isn’t unusual after lunch but this was “Crohn’s tired” which means I was running the risk of falling asleep in front of my usually understanding boss (who’s father and brother also have Crohn’s, apparently I’m connected to most of the 1.6 million sufferers in the USA if I look hard enough). I didn’t eat all day and by the time I got home I thought maybe I should try something before going to the concert. But what? The pains in my lower abdomen told me that anything I tried would be coming back up quickly and then it occurred to me. I have all that Jello left from my colonoscopy prep. Jello, which is considered by the medical profession to be a “clear” liquid. Surely, I could have some Jello to settle my stomach and not further aggravate my Crohn’s. Moments later two little cups of lime Jello are gone and I felt satisfied enough to stop there and head on to my performance.

On drive to the concert my cramps became more insistent. I stumbled into the dressing room, changed into my first costume which had become uncomfortably tight around my waist…tried to maintain a positive attitude through backstage pictures, excitement, etc. The pain increased until finally I had no choice – I broke out of a group photo unannounced and walked quickly to the restroom filled with band members taking care of business before the concert. No, I wasn’t going to be alone for this…empty stall secure and then as quietly as I could the vomiting began. Green liquid poured out of me mixed with a day’s worth of bile and other acidic fluids…nasty. And though I thought I was being quiet I hear from the next stall “you okay in there?” and I weakly tried to explain between upchucks (is that a word) that I had this digestive disorder and that I was fine, please don’t worry. Though I think that my symphony sympathizer worried a bit anyway judging from the sideways glance I got while washing my hands afterwards.

Anyhow, I toughed it out. Got through my first two intros without incident and even the later one. Begged off as everyone else started talking about pizza afterwards and came home. No sense in tempting fate further. Now I only hope that I can get some sleep tomorrow and that everything settles down by morning.

Oh, and why the flare-up I wonder? I know that Crohn’s is random but I have also noticed that whenever there is a big change in the weather my gut reacts. It warmed up quite a bit this weekend and I still think that the sudden “swing” in the barometer. I wonder if anyone else has noticed something similar with their Crohn’s?

Long story, no point really. Just a glimpse into what I sometimes go through for my work and my craft…I know that there are others who can tell tales even more distressing and embarrassing but I think I’m occasionally allowed to vent a bit, too.


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