Health24 reader Daniel van der Spuy shares story about living with with Crohns Disease in order to help people with the same disease.
I was diagnosed with Crohns disease on 18 December 2008 by
Dr. Grobler from Bloemfontein, although my symptoms had started long before
that but hadn’t been picked up by my
When I met Dr Grobler he did a colonoscopy and diagnosed me
with severe Crohns Disease. He started me on medication immediately, namely
Azapress (150mg per day) and Panafcort (80mg per day). This helped for a while
until about February 2009, when things started getting worse by the day.
I was admitted to hospital for more cortisone treatments and
tests and lost 25kg in a month. I was looking bad.
Dr Grobler got me into a medical trial for patients with
Crohns disease but half way through the trial he pulled me out, as I was only
Out of the ten patients throughout the country in the trial
I was the only one that the treatments didn’t work on. By now my medical aid’s funds were running out
and I had no money to keep on going to the doctor. I told him that I won’t be able to come in
anymore because I don’t have the money to pay him.
However he insisted that I go in when he called and offered
to cover everything.
Many hospital visits
After that he did about 12 colonoscopies - without my
medical aids approval. Most of them were without any sedation so that I could
tell him where it hurt the most.
My colon and small intestine were both very sick and
The doctor kept urging me to get a colostomy but I didn’t
feel like I was mentally ready for that.
Then in September 2010, on my birthday, I was rushed to the
hospital, a two and a half hour drive away from where we lived. After I have
suffered from the worse pain I had ever felt, there were moments that I wished
I could rather die.
They initially took me to the theatre for a scope to see
what was going on, but that turned out to be a major operation which I didn’t
expect at all.
A Dr Carl Streicher performed a hemi colectomy on me –
removing about 45cm of my colon. Afterwards they said that they had never seen
such a badly infected colon infected.
‘Best thing I ever
After the surgery it took me about three months to fully
recover and my health started to improve, but I knew the operation wasn’t the
cure for my condition.
And sure enough, not long after the operation, it flared up
Dr Streicher tried to postpone the colostomy and spent
endless hours researching other alternatives as I really only wanted to do that
as my last resort.
Overall I spent a lot of time in operating theatres - 10 times in 2011, eight times in 2012 and
four times in 2013 before the end of February, where the 4th one was for my
permanent colostomy operation.
The operation that Dr Streicher did on me was flawless. I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor,
and personally I don’t think there is a better doctor than him.
The operation it was mentally very tough on me and at one
point I thought it was a huge mistake, but Dr Streicher assured me it was the
only choice I had left.
With the help of God and my supporting wife I had postponed
the operation for about four years. In
those four years both my children were born, so I have a lot to live for. But I
was in constant pain for those four years and always in a bad mood, which
affected my marriage and relationship with God.
There were weeks that I wasn’t able to leave the house
before 10am in the morning because of all the pain and running to the bathroom.
That started to make even more financial problems for our family as I was the
sole provider for my family.
I was 27 when I was diagnosed and supposed to be in the
prime of my life.
Advice for others
We don’t always understand why we have to go through certain
things in our life that makes life difficult and hard. But there is always
light at the end of the tunnel.
If I had known that the colostomy surgery would change my
life in such a good way I would have done it four years ago. I see now that
it’s not the end of your life; it’s the beginning of a new, healthier and better
With all the products and excellent staff from Coloplast it
really gives you a great new lifestyle without pain and suffering.
I know how depressed the idea of a stoma can be, I went
through it myself. But I am a living testimony that it does change your life
for the better. And after you have done it you will see it, feel it and believe
Hold on and don’t feel alone through this. If you are
considering the operation, stop considering and just do it.
I am a tradesmen and I still do everything that I used to
do, some things even better than before. And the best of all is I am able to
play with my children again and give the attention and love to my wife which I
hardly ever could’ve done before the surgery.