Portugal, Candida

My name is Candida, I’m 58 years old and I have Crohn’s disease.

In spring of 1988 I opened my law practice. I felt filled with joy and enthusiasm to have a bright future ahead of me. Unexpectedly, in November of that same year I began feeling very badly, with intense diarrhea and abdominal cramps. All of this, at the time, was attributed to my nervous system up until April 1989 when I had an intestinal occlusion that led me to the Emergency service. At that time, I had surgery and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

As any ordinary citizen, I had never before heard of this disease and was completely naive to the impact it would have in my life.

I initially underestimated the diagnosis and kept working normally up until August when I had a violent flare which threw me in a hospital bed where I remained for a long time, with only brief visits home. I underwent surgery again in November of that same year.

But it wasn’t until 1990 that Crohn’s had showed me all of its impact by having me admitted to the hospital for nearly the entire year. And since I couldn’t work so I was forced to close my practice.

It was a very hard decision to make, and up to this day it remains one of the biggest blow life has thrown at me. With this decision I lost my financial Independence and was obliged to head into the unknown by applying to give classes.

I started out by being positioned in mainland Portugal, but on my second year I was forced to apply to the Azores Islands. Being so, I departed to an Island 1.600km from home, all of this whilst being solo and having a high-risk pregnancy! On these lovely islands I spent 2 full years accompanied by my son. This was not an easy part of my life… Having never been pregnant or away from my husband and family these were trying times that required a lot of resiliency in both my personal and family affairs.

By then I discovered the fistulizing and abscessing nature of my disease which attacked me pretty hard! Having been submitted to numerous abscess drainages including trips to the ER. Although the worst is behind me that saga still continues. I might even add that it’s my Achilles tendon.

On June 1995, amidst a life-threatening crisis, I was sent home because back then they did not have the necessary conditions to treat me. Home I remained and started teaching in a private school until I was admitted to work in the Water and Sewage department of my city as a jurist where I remain until today.

There’s no doubt that having Crohn’s disease turned my life upside down and at times I felt in complete despair, as if the very floor beneath my feet wavered, but this never led me to accepting defeat or to stop fighting this disease.

Today, even though I keep on having this complicated disease I can say I am happy and professionally accomplished. What more could I ask for?

Cândida Cruz