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Overcoming Crohn’s disease

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By Amy Szablak

In what seemed to be the blink of an eye, sophomore Ray Horman’s life changed.

“I was the king of the world and it all came crashing down,” he said.

Horman, 20, of Morristown, New Jersey, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012, a painful and life-altering condition. He first learned he had a problem when he tried to give blood in 2011, the doctor would not let him.  Something was abnormal with the chemicals in his blood, and this worried Horman.

He later began to notice more symptoms, such as fatigue and weight loss.  He noticed welts on his legs, stomach cramps and loss of appetite.  He also suffered from Anemia. After many tests, Horman was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in March 2012.

Crohn’s disease is a “chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract,” according to Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Common symptoms include fever, pain and inflammation of the bowels. An estimated 700,000 Americans suffer with Crohn’s disease, according to Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Horman was hospitalized for eight days because of his diagnosis.  He suffered an infection and was quarantined in his room.

“It was like prison,” he said. “When I got out, I remember standing outside the hospital and just breathing in air.”

After being released, Horman had to make many changes in his life. He saw 12 specialists who gave him different diets to try.  Horman hoped to find a diet that he liked and did not give him pain. He ate scrambled eggs, fruit, steamed vegetables, chicken and steak.  He could not eat anything else.  After starting the diet, Horman lost 40 pounds in three months.

“For me that was nothing, I need to eat way more than that,”  Horman said.

Currently, Horman is taking medication so he can have more variety in his diet.  He now avoids dairy, sugar, nuts, and fruits with seeds as much as he can.

“I’m much more loose with my diet now,” he said. “It makes me happy.”

Crohn’s did not only change Horman’s diet, but also his outlook on life.

“I was very humbled in that hospital,” he said. “You don’t know how good you have it until it’s taken from you.”

Horman said living with Crohn’s on a college campus is difficult.  He cannot forget to take his medication. Others may not understand why he cannot eat certain foods.  He must follow his diet.

“It’s going out of your comfort zone,” he said. “I want to fix it, but I can’t.”

Horman does not know any other Stonehill students with the disease. He hopes to create a club on campus for other students with Crohn’s, educate students and spread awareness of the disease.  The club would be open to anyone. Horman wants to share his experience with others through the club, and he wants an outlet for kids with Crohn’s. He believes it is possible to live with Crohn’s on a college campus and does not feel like it weighs him down.

“It humbled me and made me accept who I am,” he said.  “It reminds me of how far I’ve come since I was in the hospital.”

For more information about Crohn’s Disease, contact Ray Horman at rhorman@students.stonehill.edu.

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