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 →
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 →
A diagnosis of IBD can take away the thing that you feel defines you as a person. This is how it felt for Megan Starshak of The Great Bowel Movement, who describes how her ulcerative colitis diagnosis at age 18 stole her passion for running. The process of losing and then regaining her identity as a runner fueled her desire to help people live well with a diagnosis of IBD. Her foundation seeks to educate those outside the IBD community through the use of a simple conversation prompt: Ask Me About My IBD. 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.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) tends to run in families but it’s not as simple as being passed down from parent to child. It’s more complicated because of the number of genes that are involved and the fact that it’s the genes plus some “trigger” that starts the disease process. In fact, many people with IBD don’t have a family history of the disease. Even so, it’s worth digging into family history in order to learn if there’s more IBD or immune-mediated conditions in the family. Continue reading →
Even when you’re knowledgeable about IBD, it can still sneak up on you and skew your perception of how much control the disease has over your life. Angelica Catalano, Director of Media Partnerships at The Mighty, describes how ulcerative colitis has affected her since her diagnosis at the age of 6, and how she was living with symptoms on a daily basis. Emergency surgery shook her world, prompting her to make a change in her treatment program to prevent future IBD-related complications. Through her work at The Mighty, Angelica pursues her passion of helping people with chronic illness improve their quality of life by bringing them together with the nonprofits that provide support and resources.
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.
Pregnancy and birth are different for women with IBD. There are not only challenges that come from the disease itself but the lack of awareness about IBD during pregnancy can lead to less than optimal treatment. Brooke Abbott of The Crazy Creole Mommy Chronicles describes how she coped with ulcerative colitis during her pregnancy and a birth that did not go as she’d hoped or as she’d expected. Learn how everything turned out in the end and find out what Brooke and Amber think pregnant women with IBD should do to prepare for birth and for those first few weeks with a new baby.