This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting, challenging, amazing things. This is the story of Davinia and her diagnosis with Crohn’s disease.Tell us a bit about yourself!
Davinia Hamilton. I’m 24 years old and I am a student/writer/designer
originally from Malta but currently doing my Masters degree in Digital
Media in Dublin. I love reading, writing, watching TV series and films,
the Web, photography, theatre and music. I also make jewellery and run a
disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease which can affect any
area in the digestive tract. Mine affects my terminal ileum, inside the
small intestine. It is caused by a number of environmental,
immunological and bacterial factors. During a flare-up, symptoms include
nausea, loss of appetite, chronic fatigue, abdominal pain and joint
am currently in remission, so symptoms are minimal; however, during my
last (and only – so far) flare up I experienced plenty of fatigue and
nausea. I would not be able to eat full meals without feeling unwell,
which usually meant I could never enjoy a meal at a restaurant without
feeling nauseous and tired afterwards.How old were you when you were diagnosed?
was 22 when I was finally diagnosed, but I had been having symptoms for
at least three years. It started with nausea and stomach pains after
meals and a visit to the doctor suggested I had gallstones, which I had
removed along with my gallbladder in 2006. When the symptoms persisted, I
was shuttled from specialist to specialist and eventually told I had
IBS, or I was imagining things, or I had acid reflux, or food
intolerance, or rheumatoid arthritis. They could not pin it down, and
yet blood tests showed there was an inflammation somewhere.After
I did a food intolerance test I cut pork, sugar, coffee, chocolate,
corn, tomatoes and lentils out of my diet for three months. This made me
lose quite a bit of weight but did not decrease the symptoms at all.
Finally, I begged them to do a colonoscopy (despite them telling me I
was too young) and this resulted in them finding a small ulcer in my
small intestine and diagnosing me with Crohn’s, finally, in 2009.
I was first diagnosed, I was put on a six-month course of steroids to
kill the inflammation. Worst six months ever. The side effects were
terrible and left me debating whether I should just deal with the nausea
and forget about everything. There was weight gain, cramps in my feet,
hiccups, insomnia and other awful things… But, after I finished the
course, the side effects faded in a matter of weeks and my symptoms were
gone. I now take maintenance pills every day and will have to do so for
probably the rest of my life to avoid another flare up.What’s more, I
try to maintain a moderate diet. I love food and would never completely
cut ‘yummy’ things like steak, pasta and pizza out of my diet, but I
make a conscious decision to include more vegetables with every meal and
drink at least 2litres of water a day. I’ve also had to bad stress from
my life (which is hard considering the super busy life I lead). I’ve
done this by meditating and trying not to let the small things get to
me. I have a small but strong network of very supportive friends who I
can speak to whenever life gets a little too rough and they keep me well
is no known cure for Crohn’s, but the symptoms are treatable and there
is medicine you can take to keep yourself in remission. I was lucky
enough to have a very mild case of the disease, but it can get quite bad
if left untreated.Are there any resources you’ve discovered that have been particularly helpful?
had been waiting for a diagnosis for so, so long that it was sort of a
relief to me to finally have a name for it – even if it was chronic.
I took my pills and made decisions to live better and didn’t seek much
help from support groups or online. However, I know there are plenty of
them out there and so many people online who are willing to share their
stories and advice and support.
panic! Take your meds, try and get through the side effects and make
sure you have people you can trust and speak to when the going gets
tough. You know your own body better than anyone and if you listen very
closely, your body will let you know what it can and can’t deal with.
Eat smaller portions, eat fresh food whenever you can, do mild exercise
like walking or dancing. Most importantly, try not to stress out. It
isn’t a death sentence – it’s something you learn to live with.Do yourself a favour and don’t be looking online for the worst case
scenarios because that is exactly what they are and you don’t need to be
freaking yourself out. If you are feeling like you can’t handle the
news then don’t be afraid to see a counsellor or speak to a close friend
about it.Do any of you have Crohn’s? Any questions for Davinia?