Working with our local elected officials is important to having our voices heard. But attending local town hall meetings held by state or federal congressional representatives is daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Shawntel Bethea of Chronically Strong describes her journey from sending an email to asking for support from her Congresswoman at a meeting in her district. She gives her tips on how you can make an impact in your community for people living with IBD.
For this first episode of my limited series, Summer of Activism, I’m answering a question that I hear regularly: how it is that I go to medical meetings such as Digestive Disease Week, Advances in IBD, or Crohn’s and Colitis Congress. I give you the answer as well as tips on how patients, bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers can work towards attending these, and other, scientific meetings. Here’s a spoiler: it takes dedication to improving the lives of people with IBD, commitment to doing the work consistently, and some professional networking.
What’s new in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatments and what’s next on the horizon? Dr Peter Higgins, a gastroenterologist, IBD specialist, and researcher at the University of Michigan discusses what’s new in IBD from the Crohn’s and Colitis Congress meeting in 2019. We talk fecal transplants, healing strictures in the intestines, and the feasibility of custom ostomy products. It’s a conversation about cutting edge research on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis mixed with the practicality of using these treatments in the real world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What is the microbiome, how might it be connected to IBD and other conditions, and how can it affect health when it’s pushed out of balance? Dr Sarina Pasricha of the Christiana Care Health System gives me the scoop on how the microbiome is created when we are young and how it changes with our activities and diet, as well as why we should not try fecal transplants at home, and how a little bit of dirt is good for our kids.
The internet runs on advertising, which means that editors and writers are often tasked with getting the most possible eyeballs on their story. That can mean that there’s pressure to write a controversial or sensational headline to get those clicks. In this episode, I invite veteran medical writer and university instructor, Shereen Lehman, to weigh in and tell you how to figure out if a story about IBD is good reporting — or if it’s crap.