The Problem With Gastroentrologists and 17 year olds.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Crohn’s post, but after having my doctor tell me I’ve been doing very well for a Crohn’s patient I began to remember what was going on in my life when I was 17.

When I was 17 I had gone from weighing 117lbs to 104lbs, I had lots of stomach aches and my household had a constant supply of immodium and pepto-bismol for me. I was miserable and we thought I had irritable bowl syndrome based on things we read online. When we told my pediatrician about the problems I was having he wanted to send me to a gastroenterologist but there was one problem, I was 17.  He said pediatric gastroenterologist usually stop seeing patients at 16, and the normal ones don’t start seeing patients until they’re 18. He managed to send me to one, who when I got there, didn’t want to take me because I was 17. After we pressured him a bit,  he gave me a check up and merely told me to try and see if I was lactose intolerant by cutting dairy out of my diet.

Nothing much happened after that except me discovering that carrageenan was a major trigger of my episodes. I gained back some weight by cutting it out of my diet, and we thought my problem was solved. But then I kept having problems and not attributing it to anything more than my self diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. It wasn’t until after my father met  a great gastroenterologist who removed some of his gallstones that I finally got some help. I was 19 when I was finally at the point where I was so fed up with being sick that I wanted my intestines replaced with new ones that worked properly.

This doctor, my current GI, is super awesome. On my first visit he said he thought I was probably just another college kid with irritable bowel, that he’d send me to a nutritionist and give me some medication. But because he is super awesome he ran every possible blood test he could run for digestive problems, he took *two* viles of blood from me there were so many tests. And I tested positive for high rates of this inflammation thing/indicator or whatever which was a sign that I had Crohn’s. Then I had the colon-scope, got medication, and have been doing much better. At first I was upset and thought I had some problem that only old people are supposed to have.Then I learned that many people who get Crohn’s are diagnosed when they’re between 15 and 30, or when they’re older than 60.I also read somewhere that 1 in 3 people have some sort of digestive problem in the developed world (probably due to our screwed up diets), whereas they are practically nonexistent in places like Africa.

Now I started to wonder, if it is known that 15-30 year olds are getting Crohn’s, and 17 year olds are in that bracket, why the F*CK won’t pediatric or normal gastroenterologists take them? I’ve heard of special adolescent doctors on the news, but I don’t know of any. Even if I did, what if they didn’t take my insurance or were several hours away from where I lived and it’d take months to get an appointment with them??

It just really pisses me off that if I could have seen a decent gastroenterologist when I was 17, I could’ve started getting treatment then. It also pisses me off that the first guy I saw didn’t run all of the blood tests that my super awesome doctor did. But what pisses me off the most is that there have to be other 17 year olds out there that had the same exact problem that I did. And unless they’re so sick that they end up being hospitalized they’ll go untreated for at least a year.

If you have or are an adolescent that has a ton of stomach problems, diarrhea, vomiting paired with fevers and chills any signs of irritable bowel, crohn’s or colitis do not stop until a doctor takes you and get the treatment you deserve. Make them run every blood test to see what could be wrong with you, not just the standard ones.

And that’s all for this rant.

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Wow your journey through your Crohn’s disease is amazing. I would have been just as frustrated. I had a similar problem with doctors when I was younger; the only difference was that they were far to trigger-happy and quick to diagnosis me with a disease and send me to the pharma for meds I really didn’t need.

    I’m really sorry you didn’t see an awesome GI doc til recently, but I’m glad you are taking it in your own hands to not let this IBS take over your life. Take it easy & gluck!

    • 2

      improperintegirl said,

      I wouldn’t call my journey “amazing” or even a journey for that matter… I think saying stuff like that about any disease just adds it as a label to the person and I hate that. I only wrote these Crohn’s posts to help people who are googling random things about Crohn’s. And it’s actually IBD not IBS 😄

      And normal doctors seem to be way to trigger happy. My super awesome dr is awesome in that way, in that the meds he gave me had almost no side effects, although expensive as hell. That could also have to do with the fact that my Crohn’s is way more mild than other people’s, there’s a whole range of medicines.. and there are people that the meds don’t help. I’m really lucky that way. I still just think its sad that as a 17 yr old, you need to be hospitalized to really have a GI take care of you >.> not just suffering and majorly inconvenienced but carrying on with your life.

      • 3

        Well to each his/her own. I call any discovery towards anything a journey because you don’t find out about things overnight. It takes progress. It’s not a random label; it’s using the word journey as its defined “the act of traveling from one place to another.” From defining a problem, seeking helping, diagnosis, and coping with it.

  2. 4

    Stephanie Cooper said,

    I’m 17 years old and won’t be 18 years old until November anyways I’m having all the same problems that you are having or have had and went to a regular gastroenrerolgy MD doctor. And he didn’t even examine me. He just asked me a few questions and checked my breathing and wrote me 2 prescriptions and if they didn’t work I was suppose to call and make an appointment to have a colonoscopy done but I never have even though the prescribed medicine never helped and that has been 2 months ago. I’m terrified of IV’s and where I live at they have to put you to sleep to do a colonoscopy and they are no other way they will put me to sleep to do it and I’m terrified of IV’s because I’ve never had to have one yet.

    • 5

      improperintegirl said,

      They normally put you to sleep for a colonscope. I was nervous the first time I went under when I had my wisdom teeth removed but everything turned out fine. It sort of feels like when you’re exhausted and fall asleep fast, then when you wake up you’re out of it and might have some trouble walking. Just make sure you don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the day of the procedure, and give them your accurate weight. The anatesiaologist is supposed to be there during the duration of the procedure to make sure you’re doing ok. I’d also recommend scheduling the procedure for the morning, so you don’t have to starve for too long. But before you do that, try to get a blood test to look for inflammation markers, that was what led my doctor to believe I had Chron’s and not just IBS. If you do have Chron’s or UC, treating it as soon as possible is really important. My doctor told me if I were to go untreated for another 5 years or so I probably would need surgery. If you just have Chron’s in the large intestine, they have anti-inflammatory pills, if it’s beyond that they use biologics which are injected 1-2 times a month. I’m on both now, don’t worry if you need a biologic, those actually reverse the inflammation and work really well. But my docotor told me some GI’s don’t believe in biologics. He’s done surgery on people who had those docotors and said they probably wouldn’t have needed the surgery if they were properly treated. But good luck with everything, things will turn around once you get a diagnosis and you can be treated properly.


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