It is Friday morning when I am doing a warmup in a small dressing room of the Maaspoort in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. As I listen to hardstyle music to get in the mood, tears roll down my cheeks, realizing where I am today.

Today I am in the final of a national CrossFit competition. Of the 176 participants in the qualifying competition, I was placed 37th and placed myself to compete in the final.

Thinking back to where I come from, I am very proud of myself and my placement for this final. 3,5 years ago my life looked very different. Shortly after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, my life took a totally unexpected turn.

At that time I worked 6-night shifts at Security and Service of the Dutch Railways. What made this series different from the previous one was that after my second night I had my first day for my college education. I slept 1 hour from my night shift, went to college, slept another hour and continued with the four remaining night shifts. After night shifts, the switch from night to day was very difficult.

2.5 days later I was back at work. During that service, my intestines were painful and I decided to call in sick. The journey home seemed like an eternity. When I arrived there I was literally crooked with pain.

Due to the severe irritation and pain in my intestines from the flare-up, I couldn’t eat for a week. Taking a sip of water hurt my body. Even laying on the couch resulted in pain. As if my intestines were so irritated that every movement caused pain. In that one week, I lost more than 10 kilos while at the time I also had a nice sporty figure.

Slowly I got back to my feet, the worst pain was out of my intestines, but in terms of energy, I really felt like a zombie. When things went a little better I was able to go to the supermarket by car to do some shopping. Back at home, I was demolished. It took a few months before the energy and my old weight was back.

The flare has changed a lot in my life. For example, it did not feel right for my body at that time to work in irregular shifts any longer. At the time, I had been working in the security world for 11 years and did a college education for a future management position. The future that I had in mind unexpectedly came to an end. Finding a way to a new future has done a lot to me.

There alone, during the preparation in that dressing room in Den Bosch, I realized that I fought hard to become the man I am today. Healthy, pain- and complaint free, full of energy and now with a wonderful company to help fellow patients towards the same success. That makes me so proud of who I have become.

My wife Jorien has always been my great support in this. With her help, I have been able to get this far. And precisely that, that 3.5 years ago my world as I knew it fell apart and looking back to where I am to day, that realization brought tears to my eyes.