All of the other kids had moved up a weight class or two. I knew that I had been tired and hadn't been very hungry, but I thought surely I would have gained some weight this summer.
I guess Dad must have thought the same thing. He is my wrestling coach and he is always watching; watching to see if I make weight, watching to see if I improve my wrestling skills and watching to see if I make the right moves on the mat. It became obvious to Dad that something was seriously wrong. He noticed that I wasn’t gaining weight and that I didn’t seem to have much “pep.”
After discussing his concerns with both Mom and me, and after much prying, I had to confess that I almost always had diarrhea and was also sick on my stomach a lot. Off to the doctor I went. After my first visit to the family doctor, it became apparent that my problem was much more serious than just a stomach ache.
Thus began my endless doctor visits, blood tests and treatments. It took several visits and tests to determine my problem. I became very discouraged because I wanted to wrestle. It was wrestling season again and I was not strong enough to participate. I was
just too sick and weak to do much of anything, including cheering on my wrestling buddies!
I was upset and frustrated asking, “What if I can’t wrestle again?”
Also asking, “Why did this have to happen to me?”
Neither my parents nor the doctors could answer these questions. I knew they were all trying to hide their concern. They were very conscious that my academic life as well as my social life was being interrupted at ten years old. They felt I was much too young to be missing many days of school, extra curricular activities, and especially wrestling.
Finally the specialist announced my problem, “Cody, you have Crohn’s Disease.”
“Crohn’s Disease, what is that?” I asked.
“It is a chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract.” He explained. “The part of your intestinal tract affected is the long, small bowel where nutrients, calories and vitamins are absorbed. That is why you aren’t able to gain weight.”
His explanation didn’t mean much to me, all I wanted to know was; “When will I be strong enough to wrestle again?” He further explained that he was going to try to get my disease into remission (a time free of symptoms.) If that didn't work, it could be surgery. Oh no, am I going to die? Remission sounded good to me, I was tired of being sick. But, please, no surgery. My Pap went into surgery and I never saw him again, ever!
Almost two years later, after many medications and several Remicade intravenous treatments, I continue to improve and feel stronger everyday. There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease; all that the doctors can do is treat the symptoms. It also affects the immune system so I have to be careful about being exposed to germs. Washing my hands all of the time and trying to stay away from kids with colds is a real bummer. Being at home with family all of the time is also a bummer.
The doctors have been successful! I am happy to report that most of my symptoms have disappeared; I am close to being normal again. I have gained weight and moved up to the 90 lb. class, I am able to attend practice, and I think I am finally strong enough to step out on the mat again.
I hear the crowd cheer. I step out on the mat and face my opponent. The whistle signals the start of the match. The dance begins...I AM WRESTLING AGAIN!