Crohn’s Behind Bars (Contributed by One of Our Readers)

Living with a neglectful father growing up led to me rebelling when I was a teenager. I had been a straight A student but my father’s indifference made me stop caring about my grades and start focusing more on making friends than getting good grades. I started going to parties and then in 2011 I was arrested for a crime I didn’t intend on committing but there’s no entrapment laws in the state of Washington.

I tried going through drug court but failed a couple UAs for marijuana (which is now legal here, by the way) and a counselor that didn’t like my attitude (would any rational person have a good attitude when they shouldn’t be wasting time for a crime they never would have committed in the first place?) led to me getting kicked out. In drug court, somehow your constitutional rights are waived: The decision to send me to prison was done behind closed doors. Annotation 3 to the 6th amendment of the United States constitution states that decision would be illegal unless publicity would affect the verdict.

I had gotten a DUI in 2009 and knew getting a felony charge in 2011 would affect my probation, so I wrote to the judge, prosecutor, and public defender (pretender*) to ask for my probation punishment jail time to be added to the end of my prison sentence so I wouldn’t have to get out and go right back in. No reply from any of them the entire time I was in prison. I actually received all of my medication while I was in prison. However, after I was released of course I had to go spend 2 months in jail. This time they sent me to Snohomish County Jail instead of the King County Jail that I normally went to (and always received my medication there). At Snohomish County Jail no matter how many visits to the infirmary or how many grievances I submitted, I never received my regular Crohn’s medication. I only received corticosteroids which mask the symptoms but don’t treat the actual Crohn’s activity.

I was released mid October, much worse than when I entered the hospital. I started taking my TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) Inhibitor again when I got out, and was excited to go to a huge Halloween event. I was working the info booth and about an hour into my shift I started having what I assumed to be abdominal cramps or spasms. I was having very sporadic pain. Over the next few hours I tried walking it off, sitting down, at one point I even went to lay down at the medical area. Nothing helped so finally I left the event early and took a cab home.

When I got home I tried putting a hot water bottle on the area but the pain continued to get worse. Finally I called an ambulance and explained the type of pain and that I should have called hours ago, begging them to show up in 5 minutes. They showed up in 3.

When I got to the hospital I begged for something to soothe the pain. I didn’t care at that point if they knocked me out or gave me pain meds but there was a line to use the CT Scan machine. After I finally got a CT scan, they confirmed my intestine had burst and gave me pain medicine. They gave me something else too because the next thing I remember is waking up with most of my maternal side of the family around me.


“I’m so sorry,” my mother said. “Sorry for what?” I replied. She frowned. “Oh you don’t know?” she said. I was confused, “don’t know what?” “Lift up your shirt,” said my mother. I complied, and was horrified.

I had the surgery I always knew I would have since I was diagnosed at age 4 with Crohn’s Disease, but never expected at a young age. This surgery was an ileostomy and would change my life forever. I never expected to have one at the age of 23. My disease was kept in check until the 2 months I spent at Snohomish County Jail where I didn’t get my proper medication.

Of course today I manage my medication differently with a healthy diet and exercise, but you’re not going to have a healthy diet in any jail, so at least if you get proper medication you can maintain a healthy body. I hope nobody else has to go through the struggles I have gone through.

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