Jenni's Story: Patient Turned Nurse...Despite Crohn's Disease

After being diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 1995 and having a resection of part of my small intestine and colon in 1996, I thought there wasn't much left for my life but to be a lifelong patient. I thought the only career I could handle was being an on again off again secretary. How could I do anything else? I needed a bathroom immediately when I had to go and I was continually taking off work because of my unruly intestines. I was on and off medications that caused nasty side effects and made me feel less like getting out of bed than normal. Little did I know then that 15 years after my diagnosis I would become a Licensed Practical Nurse and begin a career making a huge difference in the lives of other patients.

After being laid off from yet another secretarial gig in 2009, I decided to challenge myself and take an accelerated nursing program. I would become a full time student and graduate in 11 months. I thought could do it. I knew I had the brains but I wasn't sure if my body would cooperate. I had to find out how far my determination would take me. After each test “that determined the rest of my life”, each mid-term, each final and each term I would look back and wonder how I managed to make it as far as I had. My body was failing me but my determination was growing the closer I got to my graduation date.

During those eleven months of school I made two trips to the hospital emergency room, had a colonoscopy, an EGD, an ERCP and surgery on my pancreatic bile duct. I was even hospitalized for four days with pancreatitis. But by the grace of God I graduated - with a B average. We started out with 49 students and only 15 of us made it. I still cannot believe I was one of the 15.

I'm living with Crohn's disease. I go to the bathroom a lot. I have pain almost every day. I'm tired all the time and my bones and joints don't move as well as they once did. But I'm a nurse! I'm a nurse despite Crohn's disease.

(The picture is me holding my diploma on graduation day.)