Glenwood woman faces severe case of Crohn’s
Post Independent Correspondent
If someone wanted to find Maggie Carmer when she was a child, they could find her playing a sport.
“Maggie was always really active when she was a kid. She played basketball, volleyball, ran track. Always loved those kinds of sports,” said her father, Todd Carmer. His daughter recently returned home from University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, where she spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit.
“It wasn’t until the spring of her eighth-grade year that she started getting sick,” he recalled. “After that, it hit her pretty fast and hard.”
That year things changed abruptly for the Carmer family, who are longtime residents of Glenwood Springs. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, the family’s active teenage daughter began losing weight, losing strength and struggling with digestive pain.
Three years of visits with multiple doctors followed. Finally, intensive medical testing with local gastroenterologist Jason M. Collins led the Carmer family to a diagnosis: Crohn’s disease.
Now 24, Maggie Carmer has lived with the disease for roughly a decade. Some of her doctors say hers is the worst case they have encountered.
Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Although it most commonly affects the area where the small intestine meets the colon, Crohn’s can strike any area along the tract. Symptoms range from mild and unnoticeable to extremely severe depending on the case; these often include persistent diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal cramping and blood in the stool. It is estimated that Crohn’s disease may affect as many as 700,000 Americans, and most patients are diagnosed before age 30.
“This is an autoimmune disease where her body is basically attacking her body,” Todd Carmer said. “It is especially bad in her lower intestine. Recently she has struggled with malnourishment, because her body won’t absorb any nutrients.”
He noted that about three weeks ago his daughter had lost more weight and was feeling especially ill, so the decision was made to take her to Denver for hospitalization. There she was treated for severe dehydration and low blood pressure, among other effects of her condition.
“Basically Maggie’s bodily systems are all affected, including her immune system being weakened,” he said. “She’s been on so many medications in the past, but nothing has really worked for her. At the hospital they basically told us that at this point the only thing that might help is surgery.”
Doctors at University of Colorado Hospital suggested that removal of the colon may be the only way to reduce the effects of Maggie Carmer’s condition. The decision to move forward with surgery is one that the family is leaving in their daughter’s hands.
“It is her choice,” her father said. “And we are here to support her.”
After years of chronic illness, Maggie Carmer is now unable to do what most consider a primary joy in life: eat solid food. She can ingest some juices and mild liquids, but she must also take nourishment intravenously. Though she has endured tremendous setbacks and made many sacrifices, her father has watched as her courage persevered.
“For a normal person this would be a lot to handle — but not for Maggie. She has really been a trouper,” he said. Although his daughter previously held positions at Starbucks and the Glenwood Springs Branch Library, she is now focusing on healing and gaining strength at home.
“Maggie is a people person. She loves to help others, and always keeps a good attitude,” he added.
A friend of the family has set up a YouCaring page where community members may offer financial assistance and read more about Maggie Carmer’s battle with Crohn’s.
“Maggie really appreciates the outpouring of support she has received lately,” her father said. “People here have stood up for her, and it has really meant a lot.”
For more information, visit YouCaring.com and search for Maggie Carmer.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will continue to be closed due to “extreme damage” from the latest round of heavy rain and flooding Saturday night, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Sunday afternoon.