People who live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have had many questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine rollout is no different. The good news is that prominent IBD physicians are advocating for people who live with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19). As healthcare professionals, many of them have already received a vaccine themselves.
After speaking with Dr David Rubin, highly respected IBDologist, fierce advocate for patients, and consummate educator who graciously responds to my emails, on About IBD, I became better aware of the concerns of the IBD community in regards to vaccination. I’ve spent the better part of the last month working towards answering questions and reading research.
To that end, I have come up with 5 nuggets of information that address some of the chief concerns about COVID-19 vaccinations in people who live with IBD.
Did an IBD diagnosis change the direction of your life? For Danielle Golden and Joe Teeters, being diagnosed as a young adult had a profound influence on their lives. The plans they had for their lives were derailed, but they only met, formed a strong friendship, and founded Double Baggin’ It because of their IBD. Learn more about their disease journeys, how they met, and how they use humor to raise awareness of IBD and ostomy life both inside and outside the IBD community.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have had many questions. Now that vaccines against the virus are becoming available, people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis need even more information in order to make decisions. I asked Dr David Rubin, Chief of the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition and the Co-Director of the Digestive Diseases Center at The University of Chicago Medicine to answer some of these initial questions about the first COVID-19 vaccines (manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna). Topics discussed on this episode include:
How vaccines work
How mRNA works
How IBD medications affect the immune system
IBD medications and their potential effect on COVID-19 vaccination
When we’ll have more information about COVID-19 vaccines and IBD
Why side effects with vaccines are expected and what they mean
For many of us who live with a form of IBD, being a performer seems like it would be impossible. Some of the problems include needing a job that provides health insurance, the stress of auditions, and being healthy enough to perform onstage. Justin Baker, however, has found a way to make it work for him as he lives with Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis (a form of degenerative arthritis that’s associated with IBD). Justin is an actor, a photographer, and a clown. He tells me how he manages stress, how empathy informs his work and his life, and how not having health insurance led to emergency surgery for his Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week is full of events that aim to raise funds and understanding of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One of these is Gaming4Guts, a gaming marathon to raise funds for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Participants stream over Twitch during the 72-hour event but they have also formed a community, keeping in contact year-round on the Gaming4Guts Discord server. Kenzie, John, and Mark from Gaming4Guts sat down with me to talk about their personal connections to IBD, the evolution of Gaming4Guts, and what their goals are this year.
After hearing from my 10-year-old daughter, it’s now time to hear from my 13-year-old son. My kids are in hybrid school, and for my 8th grader, this means he goes to school in person two full days a week, with 3 days of distance learning at home. We are managing it as well as I think we can expect. However, my son brings up a small wrinkle in regards to the “return to normal” to which we are all looking forward. It is going to be challenging for us to go back to our prior pace and there will be new struggles along the way. Be sure to listen to the end to hear my son’s tips for parents on how to talk to their kids.
How often do you check in with your friends and family about how they’re doing during the pandemic? Families have had to make difficult choices regarding school, playdates, and extracurricular activities. We are all concerned about how our kids are faring during the pandemic. But are we asking them about their worries and concerns as often as we should? Amber sits down with her 10-year-old daughter to talk about hybrid school, concerns about getting sick with COVID, what kids are missing right now, and what they want to do when the pandemic is over.
Do you worry that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) will get in the way of finding a romantic partner? Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can make dating challenging but they can also simplify it. It becomes clear pretty quickly if a potential partner is going to struggle to cope with chronic illness. This episode focuses on communication, as Amber and her husband, Mike, discuss how he reacted to his first introduction to ulcerative colitis and why it’s important to check in with your partner before discussing IBD outside of the relationship. After more than 20 years, they finally put an incident of miscommunication to bed, and Mike gives his tips on being a supportive partner.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects more than the digestive system. Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can also affect the eyes, joints, and skin. Jordan Ditty was diagnosed with IBD as a child, though her diagnosis floated between Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and she had j-pouch surgery due to a colonic perforation. Recently, she had her j-pouch removed and a permanent ileostomy placed. Surgery gave her with a better quality of life but also a new diagnosis of a skin condition related to IBD, called pyoderma gangrenosum. Learn how Jordan remains hopeful through her long journey with IBD and a host of complications.
Ostomy Awareness Day is an important observation that helps eliminate the stigma surrounding ostomies and ostomates. Ostomy surgery is lifesaving and many people who have an ileostomy or colostomy surgery due to ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease experience improved quality of life.