When Christian was 8, he fell off his bike and ended up with casts on his right arm and left leg. Broken bones are not unusual for 8-year-old boys—but Christian didn’t get better. Months after the accident, his mobility was decreasing and doctors did not understand why. One day, things finally got bad enough that his parents took him to the Emergency Department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Christian spent a week in the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s causes inflammation in the lining of the intestines and can lead to intense pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Over the next eight years, Christian would experience all of these symptoms, leading doctors to remove of part of his colon.
Between diagnosis and surgery, Christian and his family spent a lot of time going to appointments for checkups, tests and treatments, and he had two more hospital stays. “It’s been an up and down road,” Christian says. “I was very, very sick, and going through multiple flare-ups.”
Christian and his family have missed out on things like vacations and summer camp, and he will be getting his driver’s license and graduating from high school a year later than planned. Still, he strives to remain positive.