Teen’s Crohn’s treatment helps her keep playing music

By: Eric Czarnik | Troy Times | Published November 20, 2020

 Abigail Tucker is able to participate in school activities after starting a new treatment for Crohn’s disease.

Abigail Tucker is able to participate in school activities after starting a new treatment for Crohn’s disease.

Photo provided by Option Care Health

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TROY — School can be challenging enough for many young people, but having symptoms of Crohn’s disease can make it an even bigger struggle.

For Abigail Tucker, it started with migraines and stomach pains. Then she started losing weight — as much as 50 pounds.

She said her condition worsened to the point that, when she was 13, she felt like withdrawing from friends and skipping activities such as playing or teaching piano. Soon she was often missing a day of school per week, sometimes even more.

Her stress and social isolation grew, and stress triggered a harmful cycle of flare-ups.

“I spent most days sleeping and sitting around the house. I was frustrated and discouraged, because we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I continued to feel worse and worse,” she said in an email.

Tucker was reportedly tested and then diagnosed at age 13 with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the ailment commonly becomes evident in the teenage or young adult years.

Tucker, 16, explained that she felt pain “almost every day” when she first started getting symptoms, and they took a physical toll. That made it hard to maintain a social life, play sports or even follow through with common tasks, she explained.

“I remember not being able to make any plans with friends or having to cancel those plans last minute, and I couldn’t play any sports, which was hard for me to handle,” she said. “I also missed a lot of school because I wasn’t feeling well enough to go in, so I didn’t get to socialize often.”

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is involved with researching inflammatory bowel diseases and has identified and investigated genes that shine light on how Crohn’s disease works. The association says “major scientific advances” have given doctors greater understanding about the illness, as well as treatment options that are more effective.

Tucker said she has found a local treatment that’s effective for her.  Every seven weeks, she has undergone biologic anti-infectives therapy at Option Care Health’s Troy Infusion Suite. Infusion therapy delivers medicine or treatments intravenously, according to Option Care Health.

“Abbi is a great patient,” a nursing supervisor at the Troy Infusion Suite said. “She is pleasant, kind and always cheerful when she comes into the suite. As a member of her care team, I do my best to make sure Abbi is comfortable while she is getting her treatment and has everything she needs.”

Tucker, who lives in Marysville, talked about how the treatment has improved her health and changed her life. She said her daily life has thrived at Marysville High School, to the point where she now can play sports and music, as well as partake in the school musical.

“I can now do pretty much anything a normal teenager can do as long as I get my treatment every two months,” she said. “I really don’t notice that I have Crohn’s anymore other than when I go to my infusion therapy appointments.”

Tucker gave some advice to young people who are experiencing similar medical conditions. She talked about the importance of staying positive and talking to one’s family.

“I think building that support system was super important, and ultimately that was what got me and my family through that scary time when we were searching for a diagnosis,” she said.

Learn more about the CCFA by visiting www.ccfa.org or by calling (888) 694-8872.

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