Pete Davidson can relate to my nightmare and Ariana Grande is his support.
Pete Davidson is a well-known comedian battling Crohn’s disease. He has been open about this with family, friends and fans. And it’s likely Ariana Grande too has learned a lot about his Crohn’s disease and how to support him as well. It’s inspiring to know that Pete Davidson does his damn best to stay positive even when his body doesn’t feel well.
Davidson can relate to my diagnosis and nightmare because we both have Crohn’s and understand the toll it can take on you physically and emotionally.
Pete opened up to High Times (2016) about his battle and medications.
“I got Crohn’s disease when I was 17 or 18… And I found that the medicines that the doctors were prescribing me and seeing all these doctors and trying new things…[didn’t work] Weed would be the only thing that helped me eat.”
The fact here is, in many studies, it has been shown that Medical Marijuana helped treat his symptoms, while other medications just weren’t doing the trick. He explained the amount of pain he endured during the day.
“My stomach would be in pain all day and I wouldn’t be able to eat, but then I’d smoke and I can eat and do my shows,” the 24-year-old continued. “I wouldn’t be able to do SNL if I didn’t smoke weed. I wouldn’t be able to do anything really. Me performing not high has gone awful. It’s awful for me because I don’t feel well.” He explained the effects of Crohn’s on his body. “I’d be in like a lot of pain before shows. And you know I’d smoke a joint and immediately… I can do this.”
People just don’t understand the amount of pain that a person goes through with Crohn’s and tend to become quickly offended by the thought of using weed as a treatment option. Pete Davidson felt offended because of the judgments.
“I know it’s weird, everybody’s offended today. But I kinda do get offended like when people are just like ‘oh you’re just a pothead watching cartoons.’ Like I work really fucking hard and I take care of my shit. I need weed to do that because I’m sick, I have Crohn’s, so it sucks. Smoking weed allows me to do that. I feel like that makes a lot of sense.” The 24-year-old has wanted to talk about this for some time. “I’ve been waiting 3-years to say something. And I think this is the time.”
When it comes to Crohn’s disease I can completely understand how painful it feels and it’s indescribable.
But what about you?
Nearly everyone has had a case of food poisoning. Take a moment and think about that time… you were hunched over the toilet, your bowels felt like hell and you didn’t know when the pain, vomiting, and fever would stop.
Now, multiply that by 100 and you can somewhat understand what it feels like to have Crohn’s disease. This is often a daily experience with no known cure.
What is Crohn’s disease?
- Crohn’s disease is a type of ‘inflammatory bowel disease,” but how it occurs is not well understood. What we do know is it tends to run in families. In Crohn’s disease, segments of bowel, most commonly the end of the small bowel or the terminal ileum become inflamed. Crohn’s affects everything from your mouth, stomach to your anus. That, in turn, causes a number of issues depending on how severe the disease has progressed.
- Crohn’s disease involves all layers of the intestine and can occur in both the small intestine and colon. Symptoms range from mild to severe and even life-threatening and include any or all of the following: persistent diarrhea; abdominal pain or cramps; rectal bleeding; fever and weight loss; fatigue; joint, skin, or eye irritations; delayed growth in children.
- It’s understood that immunosuppressants can help to “tone down,” a patient’s immune system. This helps the body stop attacking the bowel but it doesn’t completely stop the attack for a time. Many patients have to take medication daily, weekly or monthly in an effort to keep their immune system working less.
- In severe cases, patients with Crohn’s disease will have surgery to remove bowel that has been destroyed by the immune system’s attacks.
- There are no foods that should be avoided during a flare. It’s recommended to eat foods that are easier to digest. Doing so makes it easier for the small bowel to absorb the nutrition you need in order for you to live.
- Crohn’s disease causes the suffer to have chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, and even bowel blockages. This can make the disease very debilitating, affecting, work, mental stability, and life.
Crohn’s disease stigma and your health.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, up to 1.6 million people in the US live with IBD. In the UK the estimate amounts 300,000 IBD patients. For IBS, as many as 10-15% of the population of western countries are estimated to live with it.
Alongside the mental effects, it also screws up your social life. The inflammation causes a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life. The ongoing symptoms, reduced ability to work, social stigma (friends thinking you’re a flake. One stigma I carry with me to this very day), bathroom access and even difficulty with intimacy at times is emotionally draining.
Crohn’s seemingly affected Pete Davidson a lot during the 42nd season of Saturday Night Live. He was absent due to attempting to gain control and he was quite positive about the decision even though he absolutely enjoys what he does for a living, health comes first because if you’re not healthy then you can’t do the things you love in life.
Crohn’s disease and having support.
Crohn’s disease can isolate you because you never know when the pain or urgent need for a bathroom will hit.
Support is key (I have an amazing husband and mother who are always by my side). And Pete Davidson has an amazing fiance, Ariana Grande by his side to support him as well. It’s difficult when your peers are living life “normal,” staying up late while patients have to budget our time and energy, deciding what comes first in their next activity. It’s all about what we can and cannot do–as well as what we can and cannot eat. Having support during these difficult times is what can make or a break a patient’s emotional and physical symptoms.
“Sometimes the only thing the patient wants is to know that he or she will be okay, and whatever is going on in their bodies and how they feel in that moment is not how they will feel for the rest of their life,” says American Gastroenterological Association expert Maisa I. Abdalla, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California. “Talking to individuals who experienced a similar situation is very helpful in this case. As a physician, we can counsel the patient on specific outcomes based on the available statistics and probabilities. But without living the experience, it is very difficult to address their emotions and fears.”
It’s no secret that people don’t understand and they leave you behind. These “friends,” often leave your life and it tends to make you feel as though you’re nothing, nothing but a walking disease who may not be worth people’s time. And you can’t help but blame yourself, even though it’s not your fault.
They weren’t real friends to begin with and that’s why finding real support is vital. The judgments are real but they don’t define a patient with Crohn’s disease.
That’s why it’s amazing that Pete Davidson is with Ariana Grande. She’s always supportive, she gives love to her family, friends, and fans and always wants the best for people. Personally, she seems to be a perfect fit for Davison and it makes me happy (as someone who can relate) to see the support between the two lovebirds.
Now that you’ve learned a little about Crohn’s disease and Pete Davidson’s journey, let’s take a peek at mine. First, the reason I choose to write this piece on Crohn’s disease is that I wanted to turn my ‘shot day,’ into a day of raising awareness about health.
What did my journey with Crohn’s disease include?
There’s a lot of backstory to my diagnosis. It all started with a simple UTI and having doctors in the past who over-prescribed antibiotics.
Health… it’s so important and many people wake up and start their normal daily routines. But sometimes normal people wake up and their whole lives are different because of disease. I remember a time when waking up, going to the gym and heading to set was simple and easy. I knew my routine like the back of my hand. I couldn’t have been happier and never in my time of being “healthy,” did I stop to think what our bodies do for us when we are busy doing our own thing in life.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after an 8-month battle with Clostridium difficile (one that went unnoticed) due to doctors writing me off like I was just having symptoms of IBS. I finally found the right doctor and he did all the right tests. Relapsing with c.diff 3 times, pain, my body doing it’s best to rid it of this disease.
After a long battle, I won but only because I became unresponsive to “Vancomycin,” the antibiotic used to kill off c.diff (and all good bacteria as well). It’s catch 22 but then the truth came out, I was unresponsive to treatment because I didn’t have Clostridium difficile anymore, I beat it.. but now I am faced with battling this new disease.
You may not realize how hard your body works to keep you healthy. But your body is a magnificent organ. It’s so important to take care of it, think of it like a car, you want to make certain it keeps running in tip-top condition.
The food you may be eating at lunch, right now… Be thankful, anytime I make a dish, I have to stare at it and think of what consequences it might have on my body. Questions that flood my mind “will it trigger a flare,” or “how bad is this going to hurt?”
There is no safe food, it’s day by day. But I get to wake up every day with a larger perspective for what our bodies do. I get to teach others about the importance of your gut flora and antibiotic resistance. I get to be a person who turns the negative into positive.
But wait what about those antibiotics?
You get a cold, go to the doctor and to “be safe,” they hand you a broad spectrum antibiotic (this is one type that will kill everything) rather than doing a test to identify the specific bacteria causing you harm.
UTI’s (for example) can easily be cultured and from that point, you are given an antibiotic that would have only attacked the one and only specific bacteria causing my body problems.
Who would have thought, right?
Broad-spectrum antibiotics wipe out your entire gut flora. Good bacteria you’ve built your whole life with healthy foods, yogurt, and foods that help promote gut function. I started from scratch after 23-years of having an amazing amount of health-promoting bacteria in my gut.
The next time you visit the doctor, my advice would be, ask for a culture to make sure your whatever is bothering you is not just viral (viral infections do not need antibiotics). This will ensure that you get the right treatment. There’s no reason to use big gun antibiotics on bacteria that can be taken out with a lighter and easier dose for your body.
After taking many courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics, I had been left with Clostridium difficile (c.diff) taking over my gut and affecting other aspects of my well-being as well, leaving me with (what many doctors won’t recognize) as post-infectious IBD.
How does Clostridium difficile cause Crohn’s?
The truth about this question is, we don’t know the answer. Those who have a genetic predisposition are vulnerable. It doesn’t help when all you’re good bacteria is destroyed.
According to US National Library of Medicine, Clostridium difficile tends to piggyback on those with a weakened bowel due to the fact that our flora is not as strong as a healthy individual.
“Higher Incidence of Clostridium difficile Infection Among Individuals With Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”
My GI, he’s a pro, he’s beyond professional. And he recognizes this as more than just post-infectious IBS.
What is the difference between IBS and IBD?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there is a huge difference between IBS and IBD.
“Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common though uncomfortable disorder of the colon or rectum. While the basic cause of IBS is unknown, researchers have found that the colon muscle in people with IBS contracts more readily than in people without IBS. A number of factors can “trigger” IBS, including certain foods, medicines, and emotional stress. IBS is not a life-threatening condition and does not make a person more likely to develop other colon conditions, such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, or colon cancer.”
Symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal pains or cramps (usually in the lower half of the abdomen)
- Excess gas
- Harder or looser bowel movements than average
- Diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between the two
Symptoms of IBS DO NOT include bleeding or black stools. And IBS does not require medications (which include chemotherapy) as part of treatment.
“Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness in which the intestine (bowel) becomes inflamed and ulcerated (marked with sores). Crohn’s disease typically begins in the lower part of the small intestine (ileum), although it can occur in any part of the large or small intestine, stomach, or esophagus. Crohn’s disease affects the entire thickness of the walls of the bowel, explaining why patients with Crohn’s disease are prone to developing fistulas and abscesses. In addition, sections of diseased bowel can be interrupted by sections of healthy bowel.”
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on where the disease occurs in the bowel and its severity. In general, symptoms include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain and tenderness (often on the right side of the lower abdomen)
- A feeling of a mass or fullness in the lower, right abdomen
Treatment for Crohn’s disease:
- Drugs are an effective means for treating early inflammatory bowel disease, relieving symptoms and maintaining remission. The most commonly prescribed drugs for inflammatory bowel disease are:
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone. These powerful drugs reduce the inflammation in the intestines and can aid in the treatment of fistulas.
- Aminosalicylates such as sulfasalazine and olsalazine. These are aspirin-like anti-inflammatory agents, often used as the first-line treatment in early disease.
- Immunosuppressives such as 6-mercaptopurine and azathioprine. These drugs control the immune response and can help maintain a remission and reduce the dose of corticosteroids.
- Metronidazole, an antibiotic with immune system effects. It is helpful in patients with fissures or abscesses, particularly in anal disease.
IBS v.s IBD
In short, IBS is irritation of the gut that doesn’t cause long-term damage. IBD is a disease that causes damage and can even lead to cancer or death.
What patients with IBD have learned is a tough lesson.
You can’t blame your body, it’s just doing what it was wired to do, protect you. All you can do is look for support, stay positive, visit the doctor regularly and make damn sure you never stop attempting to achieve remission.
Remission takes time and the medications are worth it because they give you a chance at providing a “new normal,” for your life.
When you have Crohn’s disease and deal with pain on a daily basis, medication sounds scary but tolerable. Who wouldn’t want to attempt to achieve remission when you’re underweight but look 9-months pregnant?
If you’re reading this and have dealt with IBD, remember you’re amazing, always look for support. I’m not sure how I would be doing without my family. And we all at PCG offer Pete Davidson a huge congrats on his engagement to Ariana Grande, as well as for staying strong, working hard and being a positive influence to others who have struggled with Crohn’s disease. In life, there is nothing you cannot achieve with the proper support and love from those in your life.