Case Study – An Unexpected Illness

Arthur, aged twenty-three, had been living at home with his parents and younger sister since he graduated from college. He was eager to get a job and move to an apartment with a friend, but he was having trouble looking. His friends told him to use the Internet, but he found it frustrating to send his resume through cyberspace and never know if he had reached a real person.

Finally, a friend of a friend told him about a company that was hiring recent college graduates. He called the human resources person and got an interview the next day. Much to his and his family’s excitement, he was offered the job.

A few months later, Arthur had saved enough money for his deposit and first month’s rent and moved into an apartment with friends. Even though he lives near his parents, he doesn’t see them often. His job is stressful and he finds that he doesn’t have much energy to do anything after work. He knows he should be eating better, but he lacks the motivation to shop and cook for himself.

Much to his dismay, Arthur begins noticing changes in his bowel habits. He goes to the bathroom often and has diarrhea frequently. He also feels pain in his abdomen. He doesn’t have a scale, but he thinks he is losing weight. He blames his problem on stress and tries to relax more. He is very embarrassed to be sharing a bathroom and worries that his roommates will tease him about the smell. He considers quitting his job and moving back home.

One day a roommate tells Arthur should see a doctor. Arthur doesn’t even know how to find one. He has health insurance from his job and so he calls the number on his insurance card. The person tells him how to find a doctor.

The doctor takes a careful history and does some tests. Arthur learns he had Crohn’s disease, a chronic bowel condition that requires him to change many of his habits. At first, Arthur decides to keep his illness a secret. His doctor convinces him it would be better for him to tell his family and his roommates. The doctor tells Arthur that social support makes all medical problems easier to bear.

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