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?)
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 →
I’ve made many mistakes along my disease journey. The first, and most dangerous, was to believe that my fate was already sealed. This post was sponsored by AbbVie Inc. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own.
Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week is December 1-7. If you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, get tips from gastroenterologist Dr. Corey Siegel, a Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis expert, by visiting the online Expert Advice Tool before your next trip to the doctor’s office.
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with a disease I’d never heard of called ulcerative colitis. Approximately 700,000 people in the United States are affected by ulcerative colitis – a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the large intestine (colon and rectum). It is not caused by food or a contagious disease.
How does IBD impact the family? Couples who are thinking about having children when one or both of them have IBD often have questions about how the disease will affect their family. Amber interviews her 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son about how IBD does — and doesn’t — affect their lives.
With an invisible illness such as IBD, it can be challenging to protect your quality of life. Patient influencers often push themselves in the service of others and that may seem strange to those that follow along on social media. How can someone be so sick and yet be able to attend a medical conference? Sara Ringer of Inflamed and Untamed explains how what you see online can be misleading and how she manages two difficult digestive diseases, all while striving to live a fulfilling life that includes being a resource for other patients seeking information and support.
Take a journey back to 1999, when cellphones were a rarity, dial-up internet access was still in use, and Amber had her first surgery of the 2-step j-pouch process. Amber’s husband Mike, a writer and communicator, journaled his thoughts on the day of the surgery. This journal was recently uncovered and Amber reads it to Mike and gets his reactions and further recollections of that challenging day.
Recently, during an interview, I was asked to talk about what I couldn’t do because of my IBD or my j-pouch. I may have visibly bristled at the question, though I tried to mask this initial negative reaction. I did think about how to formulate an answer–probably for a good solid minute. In the end, I couldn’t come up with anything.
The interviewer made a few suggestions, but they were things that I don’t dwell on, such as dietary restrictions. Having some dietary restrictions is not something I think about often. I can absolutely still eat all kinds of healthy food as well as not so healthy, yet tasty, food like chocolate, and also have a cocktail. I no longer see food as an obstacle or a problem, because I’ve worked out my diet and I pretty much stick with what I know at this point. Therefore, this is not something I ruminate about or concern myself with too much.
On this episode of the About IBD Podcast, I discuss j-pouches and bust some of the misconceptions that surround them. I also give my firsthand experience as a poucher, a j-poucher who gave birth twice, and let you in on what it’s like for me to have a midline scar.
When is your family “complete”? It’s hard to know what the answer is to that question and in some cases it’s decided for you instead of by you.
Below includes my experience of miscarriage. Please note this includes a frank discussion of pregnancy loss and medical treatment for such, as well as strong language.
I never thought I’d be writing about miscarriage. To tell the truth, I kind of don’t want to do it now. But I’ve come to realize that holding back is harmful to me, and imparts the feeling that my experiences didn’t serve any purpose. Not that everything that happens has a reason or a purpose, but I have the ability to take this part of my life and turn it into something positive. Continue reading →
Aww. I’m a baby. Why am I holding a football? No idea. This would have been mid-70s, as evidenced by the green velour couch. It was a super comfortable couch, let me tell you. Great for building forts, too.
At the risk of sounding aged and out-of-touch, daily life was much different when I was diagnosed and even 10 years later when I had my j-pouch surgeries. No smart phones. No Internet. No digital photos. Most people didn’t have computers. A lot of people didn’t own cameras.
This is why there are no pictures of me. There are no photos of me battling ulcerative colitis in my hospital bed. No photos of my stoma. My wasted, 89 pound body. The skin peeling off the bottom of my feet. The blood transfusion. The voluminous amounts of gelatin I ate when my body could tolerate nothing else. There are no images of these things. We didn’t take pictures of them, and truthfully I can’t even remember if I owned a camera, or if anyone in my family did. Continue reading →