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Carrie Johnson Takes on Crohns, and Kayaking

I am fully obsessed with the Olympics these days, but no one grabs my attention more than an athlete who's overcome great odds to compete in Beijing.

Carrie Johnson, a California native, will represent Team USA in kayaking starting today. She's got her sights set on the gold, but also on staying healthy. Carrie was diagnosed with Crohns disease — an autoimmune condition in the digestive track that plagues folks with severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and extreme fatigue — when she was only 19 years old (she is now 24). Along with learning how to deal with the disease in everyday life, she has also had to figure out how to deal with it while training. Many would have thrown in the towel a long time ago, but she uses the disease as motivation to push even harder.

I'll certainly be cheering her on this week as the women's heats start today, followed by the semifinals on Aug. 21, and the final on Aug. 23. Check NBC for times in your area.


Join The Conversation
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 9 years
sorry to be more specific she had a proctocolectomy: proctocolectomy – a procedure involving the removal of both the colon and rectum that is performed along with an ileostomy. An ileostomy – performed after the proctocolectomy – involves bringing the end of the small intestine (ileum) through a hole (stoma) in the abdominal wall, allowing drainage of intestinal waste out of the body. The stoma is usually created in the right lower abdomen near the belt line. (copied that off if she can do you do can you guys, my prayers are with you!
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 9 years
my cousin has it. she's had 17 surgeries (including the one where they redirect your colon and bowel movements to a hole on your side, with a baggy attached, you no longer use your rectum). at one point we thought there was no way she was going to make it (standing at 5'7 weighting only about 74 lbs). 5 years later she's married and lives a happy healthy life while still recovering psychologically and physically and i love her to death- there's hope for all you out there i promise!
luv_bug1211 luv_bug1211 9 years
I think its great that shes open about this! Like ilanac13 said crohns is rather common, luckliy most people have mild cases, but most people dont talk about it. I was diagnosed when i was 9, 12 years ago. Crohns(and colitis) can affect the way your body absorbs nutrients, meaning in some cases it doesnt. Personally I get B12 shots once a month because my body wont absorb it on its own, if i dont get them i have no short term memory, no balance, and no concentration, it can effect your memory in the long term as well. Anyways Im always glad to see someone that can overcome! Kayaking is a very twisty sport so im sure she has to work harder sometimes. I have a hard time running sometimes because of the jiggling!
bellacu bellacu 9 years
I have Crohn's and depending on the severity, it can be very debilitating. Before I had surgery, I couldn't eat, keep anything down, even get out of bed because the cramps were so bad. I lost around 30 pounds, which at 5'4" and thin to begin with, is scary. Unfortunately, it is a hard disease to diagnose, since many doctors haven't been looking for it. In my case, it took 2 years, and they were looking for ulcers, instead they found Crohn's. Hopefully, with athletes like Carrie, there will be a greater awareness of the disease.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that it's really impressive that athletes put some of these illnesses behind them, but i have to say that crohn's is somewhat common (not fun but common) and there was a few months that my dr was on the track to diagnose me with it as well. it's really uncomfortable and some what embarrassing, but i don't think that it hindered me in working out or participating in sports. it DOES set a great example to people though that you can have obstacles in your life but that you can succeed
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