I blamed the fridge. . .

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2002, but I had symptoms for 4 years before that. In fact, I had a lot of different symptoms, but nobody had any idea that they were Crohn’s — it does not run in my family — or that they were related to each other in any way.

I had frequent and severe “upset stomach” problems for years, but I never thought it was related to an underlying disease. I love cooking and I am experienced at it and fastidious about food safety, but I kept getting diarrhea for weeks on end. I came to the conclusion that my fridge must not be working properly. It did not help that for an entire year during this period, I lived in a strange, tiny apartment with fuses that blew all the time and a wonky bar fridge that my landlord chose because it was one of the only models that would fit in the kitchen/former closet. (The building used to be a hotel and the hotel rooms were converted to bachelor units). The fridge actually did die every once in a while, causing food spoilage. My landlord felt bad for me and replaced it twice (with the same equally unreliable model) but both the fridge model and the fuses in that place were cursed.

At the same time, I was experiencing arthritis in my hips. I did not know that this was related to the stomach issues because the hip pain didn’t necessarily happen simultaneously with the gut problems. Like the diarrhea, it was also intermittent, so some months I was fine, and other months, the hip pain got so bad that I limped and needed to use a cane and back rest. I was really displeased with that state of affairs because I’ve always been an active person who loves to hike, ride my bike, climb trees, etc. Furthermore, I was a student at the time, and walking was my main means of transportation, not just for getting myself from place to place, but for getting groceries into my apartment. My main way of dealing with the problem of hip pain impairing my ability to buy groceries was to buy a lot of tupperware and groceries and to cook lots of dishes when I felt fine, stockpiling them in the freezer. That way, I would have good food available when my hips acted up. That is, until the next time the fridge died and everything melted and went bad. . .

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