Crohn's Disease Doesn't Have to Slow You Down - Just Ask Olympian Carrie Johnson
Olympic-level athletes overcome obstacles and challenges every day. We see them once every four years, but it’s hard to truly grasp how they confront and overcome the bumps and bruises and aches and pains, not to mention the ups and downs everyone faces in life.
For some of these athletes, the hurdles are even higher. Take Carrie Johnson, an elite kayaker from California. Johnson has Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory intestinal disease.
Crohn’s can cause severe pain, abdominal swelling, cramping, bleeding, diarrhea and deterioration of the affected portion of the intestinal tract. More than one million people suffer from it.
Living with Crohn’s requires vigilance and consistency – you need to stick to a routine. Crohn’s sufferers need to pay special attention to their diet, to where bathrooms are, to the timing of activities and to their medication. They need to know their bodies and be aware for signs of flare-ups. Attitude is also critically important – it’s easy to get down because there is no cure for Crohn’s – when you’re in the throes of a flare-up, it can be difficult to be optimistic.
And that’s a reason why Crohn’s sufferers like Johnson can be so inspirational.
For Johnson, nutrition is a particularly big deal. Fueling an elite-level athletic performance when you’re battling Crohn’s is not easy – people with the disease often lack an appetite and when they do it eat their bodies do a poor job of absorbing nutrients… which is kind of important if you’re looking to win Olympic gold.
Johnson was first diagnosed with Crohn’s in the run-up to the 2004 games in Athens, Greece, still managing to beat two former Olympians in the U.S. Trials. She made the Olympic team again in 2008, but the stress on her body led her to rebel; first she contracted mono, then her Crohn’s flared up. She didn’t train at all in 2009, and had to pretty much start from scratch in 2010.
But obviously, nothing – not even an ailment as potentially debilitating as Crohn’s – could keep her away from the London Games. Ultimately, Carrie Johnson did not make the Olympic finals and did not fulfill her dream of an Olympic medal.
But it wasn’t because of her Crohn’s Disease.
Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://gi.crozerkeystone.org or call 1 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441).