Junior Claire Rachwal manages school with Crohn’s syndrome

Rachwal was diagnosed with Crohn's syndrome after battling mononucleosis and overcame the difficulties surrounding her condition

October 13, 2015

Junior Claire Rachwal poses in her front yard on Monday, Oct. 12. “[I’ve learned] to not take stuff for granted," Rachwal said.
By Kristen Garrett
Junior Claire Rachwal poses in her front yard on Monday, Oct. 12. “[I’ve learned] to not take stuff for granted,” Rachwal said.
After experiencing symptoms of mononucleosis for nearly three months over the summer of 2014, junior Claire Rachwal went to a doctor to determine why she had been sick for such a long period of time. The results lead Rachwal’s doctor to the conclusion that she not only had mononucleosis, but had genetically contracted Crohn’s syndrome from her father.

Crohn’s syndrome is a condition where a patient’s intestines and tissue attack themselves when the patient eats certain foods such as raw vegetables, salads, and spicy foods. People with Crohn’s often take medication called Remicade to reduce stomach inflammation. Although Crohn’s is incurable, Rachwal takes Remicade through an IV every eight weeks to manage her condition.

This has made me look differently at life because I am able to just enjoy it now since I know I could be feeling so much worse. I’m lucky I am able to feel the way I do now and not have to worry about it.”

— junior Claire Rachwal

Completing school came as a challenge for Rachwal due to the amount of days she missed for  doctor’s appointments each week. However, her teachers were understanding of her situation and helped Rachwal through the process. 

“I missed a lot of school, I think it was 52 periods last year. They were all excused, but it was really hard to make up all of the work,” Rachwal said. “I felt like I was at the doctor’s every week, but the teachers were really nice. They took out stuff that I didn’t really need to do.”

Although Rachwal faced issues attending school, she was able to overcome these difficulties through the support of her loved ones. 

“They were always there for me,” Rachwal said. “The medicine I was on made me kind of mean, so I didn’t have a filter, but they were always there for me even when I was being rude to them.”

According to Rachwal, friends such as senior Courtney King accompanied her as she was treated for Crohn’s. King had a difficult time seeing her best friend struggle and did what she could to make Rachwal feel better.

“It was really hard watching her go through this because we’re best friends,” King said. “I always hung out with her at her house, and I got her an edible arrangement, which was the first and last time she’ll ever hug me.”

As she began to get back into her normal routine less than a year later, Rachwal has noticed the positives that came from her condition such as the knowledge she has gained about nursing.

“Something good that came out of this situation is that I probably want to go into nursing, so I can now relate to people because I have been a patient,” Rachwal said. “I know how hard it is to go through all of the IVs and all that stuff, so I think that will help with my future career.”

After Rachwal got back into her normal routine, King began to see her friend as she was before her diagnosis.

“I have noticed that since she was sick, she has really come back out and started hanging out with people and gotten back into what she really likes to do,” King said.

Not only has Crohn’s Disease given Rachwal insight into her future career, but her situation has also changed her outlook on what is really important in life.

I would get so upset when people would complain about stuff like boys, because they had no idea what I was going through,” Rachwal said. “But, now that I’m feeling better, I understand that every problem you go through is your biggest problem at that point.”

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