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Fort Macleod man joins Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s disease

jordan harris

Jordan Harris of Fort Macleod is taking part in the 2017 Gutsy Walk in support of the Crohn’s and Colitis Society.

Jordan Harris has a new passion in his life — one he never expected but made him a stronger person.
Harris developed the symptoms of Crohn’s disease in 2011.
Until then Harris was a healthy young man.
“No complaints, no problems,” the 27-year-old Harris said. “Everything was good and then one day it was like a light switch went on and the problems started.”
Those problems included abdominal pain, aching joints, extreme fatigue and itchy inflamed eyes.
“I felt something was really wrong,” Harris said. “It wasn’t just a bug or something, it was quite severe. I was stubborn and tried to tough it out but I eventually got in so much pain I couldn’t ignore it any more. I had to deal with it.”
“It was just kind of a constant, dull pain but it was fairly intense. To where it interrupts your daily activity and you can’t ignore it.”
Harris said the uncertainty of what was ailing him added to his discomfort as he worried about cancer and other serious diseases.
“I was terrified,” Harris said of the time between the symptoms showing up and the diagnosis of Crohn’s. “Just worrying about what it could be was just about as bad as the symptoms.”
It wasn’t until 2012 — after multiple hospital visits and tests — that he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
One day when the pain got too intense Harris went to the emergency department at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge where doctors listed a number of possible causes — including Crohn’s.
A “fast-tracked” endoscopy was scheduled for five months down the road and Harris continued to worry and wait for the diagnosis.
“It was bittersweet,” Harris said of the moment when he learned he had Crohn’s. “I was happy to know what it was so we could start doing something about it and put a name to it, but at the same time it was discouraging because now I have a chronic illness that I have to deal with the rest of my life.”
Harris didn’t know much about Crohn’s, so he took the prescribed medication and did some research on his own.
Named for the doctor who first described the disease in 1932, Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract.
People with Crohn’s disease experience loss of appetite, weight loss, low energy and fatigue.
Doctors prescribed an immuno-suppressant called Imuran, which Harris took for four years before switching to Pentasa.
“Within a couple months I was feeling pretty good,” Harris said.
The medication helped and while life didn’t return to normal, Harris’s condition was “significantly” improved.
Harris read a story in The Macleod Gazette about Sarah Gregory, another Fort Macleod resident with the illness, who was involved in the Gutsy Walk fund-raiser and reached out to her.
“I didn’t know anyone else who had it. She shared her experiences with it and we kind of shared notes. She encouraged me to get involved.”
Last October, Harris started going to monthly meetings of the Lethbridge chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada where he met more people dealing with the disease.
They share their personal experiences with the disease and learn about new technology, medication and research.
“It’s been a really positive experience to meet other people. It helps a lot to know someone else is out there going through the same thing, who can relate to my day-to-day struggles.”
Those daily struggles include dealing with frequent trips to the bathroom, some achiness and fatigue. The disease can be unpredictable.
Operating his business, JH Computer Repair, from home allows Harris some flexibility when Crohn’s flares up.
Harris is now fund-raising for the Gutsy Walk on Sunday, June 4 at Henderson Lake in support of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
Money raised goes to research into the disease.
“There’s no cure for it now but there’s always hope for the future. If we can raise money and awareness and maybe find a cure one day we can improve the lives of a lot of Canadians.”
Harris’s Gutsy Walk team — the Crohno Trigger — includes his mother Norma Orr, aunt Lisa Orr and friend Jordan Gunderson.
To contribute, visit www.tinyurl.com/crohnotrigger or contact Harris at 403-360-9124 or jhcomputer@gmail.com.

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