Amongst the many, MANY, lovely symptoms of Crohn's Disease, are two that I have found myself suffering from recently. Hair-loss and pain and swelling in the mouth.
When I was very ill last year, prior to my operation, I suffered from quite drastic hair-loss. I found it almost impossible to wash my hair without clumps of my locks coming out in my hands or clogging up the plug-hole.
Myself, my parents and my siblings have always had thick and kinky hair, so losing it seeing become so thin and feeble upset me quite a bit. The physical signs of my illness tended to affect me more - not because I'm particularly vain, but because it made it visible - I could no longer try to hide what was wrong from the rest of the world.
The hair-loss in Crohn's patients can be caused by many factors - steroids, having anaemia, being on azathioprine and just generally feeling unwell. All of which I was in the midst of last year.
My hair has been back to it's glossy best in the last few months following my surgery, making me and my plug-hole happier. However, during a flare-up - mild or otherwise - it tends to start all over again, and as yet I haven't found anything to help my cause. My Aunt got me some fancy hair products for my Christmas, shampoo and conditioners and special 'serums', the whole thing. They smell like I imagine God might. Heavenly. They leave me feeling like I've just stepped out of a salon, but still my hair eventually goes greasy, lank and thin no matter what miracle creams I slather onto my cranium. I suppose it's just something I'll have to get used to. It's just depressing to run your fingers through your hair and end up with enough left in your hand to use as a wig for a small child. Now there's an idea... Send your bald babies to me! (on second thoughts scrap that- I'm going a wee bit insane now).
So hair aside, (or should that be a-side-shed?), the other issue I wanted to talk about was 'oral Crohn's'. Stop giggling at the back because I said 'oral'! Grow UP!
As Crohn's is a disease which can effect every part of the body, from head to toe, it is very common to hear the disease can be found in the mouth too. Some of the most unpleasant issues range from very poor gums, to inflamed taste-buds, to ulcers and sores on the tongue, and everything else you can think of in-between. It's common to suffer from thrush on the tongue and shooting pains in the mouth, thankfully neither of which I've had the displeasure of encountering (as yet).
I suffer regularly from poor gums, numbness of the lips and pain in the mouth when I eat or drink. Sometimes my gums feel as though on fire and even the act of touching my teeth or gums with my tongue is incredibly painful.
Again all of the aforementioned symptoms could be put down to different things for different people. After all, each patient is unique and is affected by the disease in a slightly different way. But for me, medications and drugs only serve to accentuate the symptoms I already have - I just put it down to having Crohn's - which in itself is a rotten conclusion as it again boils down to there being sweet FA I can do about it.
But that's life, and I can cope with a sore mouth and crap hair as it's nothing really when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I have to appreciate and remember it will never be an easy ride but as I have so much to be thankful for I can live without looking like Rapunzel or one of the Osmonds.
It's a new day, it's a new year, and I'm feeling GOOD.
Happy New Year x