This year I attended the annual “Day on the Hill” with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (the Foundation) in Washington, DC. It’s a two-day advocacy event where people who have been touched by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), either as patients, caregivers, or healthcare professionals, meet with legislators and/or their staff.
That’s the postcard version: but let’s break this down so it makes more sense.
Living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may have a significant affect on intimate relationships. The reasons for this are as individual as we are but can include pain, fatigue, medication side effects, and problems with body image. Kait Scalisi, an NYC-based sex educator who founded Passion by Kait, has devoted her professional life to helping women and couples learn to reconnect with themselves and their partner in order to enhance intimacy and reconnect with pleasure. Kait lives with Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis, and therefore has a deep understanding of how chronic conditions can affect intimate relationships (both with oneself and with a partner). Hear Kait’s Crohn’s disease journey and learn how she helps people find their way back to enjoying their spark, both in the bedroom and outside of it.
Many young people who are undergoing ileostomy surgery to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have never met another younger person with an ostomy. Gaylyn Henderson, founder of Gutless and Glamorous, wants to make sure that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) don’t experience the uncertainty and stigma that she encountered before her ostomy surgery. In between running a successful foundation and a support group for people with chronic illness, Gaylyn has also become a spokeswoman for people with an ostomy, proving that her ileostomy is not a barrier to success.
People who live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis experience stigma because of their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The taboo topic of bowel disease can permeate all aspects of a person’s life, especially when there are cultural influences also at play. Tina Aswani Omprakash, who lives with Crohn’s disease and a permanent ileostomy, shares her story of personal empowerment and how she is working to help other people with IBD live their lives with confidence. Tina describes how IBD has profoundly affected her family as well as why she decided to become an outspoken advocate for the IBD and ostomy communities and start her blog, Own Your Crohn’s.
I was fortunate to see The Matrix on its first run in theaters when it came out on March 31, 1999. We knew little about the movie at the time, just that it was science fiction and it looked amazing and that we would want to see it on the big screen and not later on VHS (DVD was not yet mainstream). The movie came out only a few weeks after my first of two surgeries to create my j-pouch (or IPAA, ileal pouch-anal anastomosis) to treat ulcerative colitis (which is one form of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
I love The Matrix, and how could I not? It contains so many narrative aspects I enjoy, including science fiction, robots taking over the world, an unconventionally beautiful and lethal female character, and a kick ass soundtrack. To be honest, there are a lot of things about the plot that don’t hold up to serious scrutiny. But that’s fine, it is still amazing and undeniably groundbreaking in both storytelling and technical aspects.
When The Matrix opens, the watcher has no idea what is going on. This is my favorite way to be pulled into a story: absolutely cold, with no frame of reference. There’s no exposition and the narrative plunks you right into this universe that works differently than the one you know. You have to make a decision right then and there, if you are all in and if you’re ready for the filmmakers to take you on the ride and teach you about their world. For me, it was my first time being out of the house and enjoying myself after having surgery, and I was so ready.
(Mild spoilers for The Matrix are contained in this article, so if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it lately, go watch it now. I mean, how can you exist in the world and understand what other people talk about without having seen it?)
How does IBD affect your family? Do you know about the tools and resources that are available to help you on your disease journey? On this episode of About IBD, I talk with the Director of Patient Education and Support at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Catherine Soto, who outlines the many tools the Foundation provides for anyone with IBD, including those made just for parents, kids, and teens. I also spoke with Dr Rajeev Jain, who tells me about a new, one-of-a-kind resource for women with IBD who want to be mothers, called the IBD Parenthood Project. And finally I called upon Brooke Abbott, co-founder of IBD Moms, to talk about her role as a patient in developing the IBD Parenthood Project, and she entertains me with a small rant about social media.
Every person that lives with a chronic illness has been on the receiving end of advice related to managing their disease. People living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are especially vulnerable to the influx opinions, perhaps because the disease is not well understood by the general public (let alone by the medial profession outside of IBD experts). Some people are quick to suggest anything from a change in diet to alternative and complementary therapies, especially when the disease appears to be affecting daily life. It can be a struggle to deflect these comments with grace, especially when the suggestions have been tried already and didn’t offer any relief.
When people who don’t live with IBD offer their “advice,” how can you cope with it? Continue reading →
It’s common for people with IBD to look online for patients who have a similar disease journey to their own. For men, however, there are fewer places to find such a peer because there are not as many men in the IBD influencer space as there are women. That’s where Rasheed Clarke, author of Three Tablets Twice Daily, blogger, and ulcerative colitis and j-pouch patient steps in. Hear Rasheed contrast how his running career is different before and after j-pouch surgery, his thoughts on being one of the few male voices in the online IBD community, how we can encourage more men to share their journey, and the wild and wonderful thing he did with a toilet for World IBD Day in 2017. Continue reading →
An elevator speech or elevator pitch is a quick summary of a topic that can be given in about under a minute: just enough time to take an elevator ride. It’s usually thought of in a business sense, like a sales pitch or an idea you have that you present to someone in management upon a chance meeting (such as in the elevator). The use has been expanded to mean any prepared and rehearsed speech that you can give quickly on a moment’s notice. The purpose of this article is to guide you on crafting your elevator speech about your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What compels a person to share their personal journey with IBD? For Rasheed Clarke, author of Three Tablets Twice Daily, his writing began as a way to keep track of everything for himself and his healthcare team. It quickly turned into a tool that he used to show those around him the stark realities of a life with IBD: bloody diarrhea and all. His coworkers and friends were shocked to learn how much he was coping with every day but not everyone close to him approved of his honesty. On this episode of About IBD, Rasheed digs into the positives, the negatives, and the responsibilities that come with being an influencer in the IBD space. Continue reading →