Aimee's story

In her own words, Aimee shares her experience of Crohn's disease. Aimee, 21, was diagnosed with Crohn's after having a test that involved swallowing a tiny camera that sent back images of her intestines to doctors.

A few weeks into college I started getting pain in my lower abdomenThe part of the body that contains the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and other organs. and diarrhoeaWhen bowel evacuation happens more often than usual, or where the faeces are abnormally liquid.. I went to the college health centre but was told I probably just had a stomach bug that would soon go away.

But the pain and diarrhoeaWhen bowel evacuation happens more often than usual, or where the faeces are abnormally liquid. continued and suddenly I was going to the bathroom 10 to 15 times a day. I was in a lot of pain and got sore from going to the toilet so often. Symptoms and signs

When it didn't go away, my parents and I knew something else was wrong and I had loads of tests done, including bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. tests, food allergy tests and a specific geneticRelating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. test that was sent to a lab in California. Tests and diagnosis

I did a lot of research online after being diagnosed and my doctor helped explain things to me

When the tests all came back negative, the gastroenterologistA doctor who specialises in the digestive system and its disorders. ordered me to have something called a capsule swallow. This involves swallowing a camera the size of a large pill which travels through your body taking pictures. It sends the pictures back to doctors who can get a close up view of your intestines.

I was very nervous but actually it was the preparation beforehand that was the hardest bit. The afternoon before, I had to drink really strong laxatives and was only allowed to swallow clear liquids, no food. This caused me to go to the bathroom constantly through the night and it cleared out my insides. The next morning I went to the hospital and swallowed the camera pill with some water. I had to wear a belt around my waist that received the pictures for the doctor to retrieve later. The pill eventually comes out when you go to the bathroom. I was then given an anaestheticA medication that reduces sensation. for the colonoscopyExamination of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope, an imaging instrument that is inserted through the anus. and so didn't feel any pain.

The results came back a few days later and I was diagnosed with Crohn's. I remember being really surprised - I'd never heard of the condition before and neither had my parents - but I did a lot of research online after being diagnosed and my doctor helped explain things to me.

I began treatment straight away and was put on two medications - a corticosteroid and an aminosalicylate medicine. In two weeks my symptoms improved dramatically.

I didn't react too well to the aminosalicylate medicine so we dropped it. Since then I've only been taking the corticosteroid, three pills a day. It's kept my Crohn's in remission for most of that time and, at the moment, I only have to go for check-ups every few months and have a bone density scan once a year.

When I was first diagnosed I was most worried about how Crohn's would change my life but I'm lucky that the medication has worked for me with few side-effects. I still get sick regularly though, depending on what I eat.

No two people with Crohn's have the same dietary restrictions. I have a very long list of foods I can't eat such as raw vegetables, and the only fruit I can eat is watermelon. Four cooked vegetables but that's it - peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. More foods are possible when I am in remission The lessening or disappearance of the symptoms or signs of a disease.- popcorn is one!

I try to maintain a positive outlook - I see this as a challenge for me to take on

I now take vitamins and calciumAn element that forms the structure of bones and teeth and is essential to many of the body's functions. for my bones.

I find that sleeping is beneficial when I don't feel good. I avoid coffee and alcohol but tea and green tea help and bread makes me feel better too. Whenever I go out in public, I make sure I find the public restrooms right away in case I need to run. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America has given me a card that explains my medical condition so that I can cut into a long bathroom line if necessary. Living withCrohn's disease.

I try to maintain a positive outlook - I see this as a challenge for me to take on and I remind myself that there are others out there who suffer with other illnesses worse than my own. Outlook

Dancing has been my passion since I was a little girl, and I still dance. My favourite is tap, but I also do ballet, lyrical and jazz and I'm now the Vice-President of the College Dance Club.