About IBD Episode 68 - What It's Like to Have IBD and COVID-19

About IBD Episode 68 – What It’s Like to Have IBD and COVID-19

People living with IBD who have suppressed immune systems because of medication are understandably concerned about their risks surrounding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Jamie Horrigan, a medical student and founder of “Sweetened By Nature,” lives with Crohn’s disease and gastroparesis and was diagnosed with COVID-19. She describes her experiences with symptoms, diagnosis, isolation, and recovery. She also gives some insight on why a common complication of coronaviruses, called a cytokine storm, may be an important factor of COVID-19 for people with IBD.


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Concepts discussed on this episode:

For more stories of people in the IBD community recovering from COVID-19, please see “COVID-19 Survivors: Stories of Hope in the IBD World” from Tina Aswani Omprakash of Own Your Crohn’s.

Find Jamie Horrigan on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and on her web site Sweetened by Nature.

Find Amber J Tresca at AboutIBD.comVerywellFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Credits: Sound engineering courtesy Mac Cooney. “IBD Dance Party” ©Cooney Studio.

Episode Transcript

[MUSIC: About IBD Theme]

AMBER:
I’m Amber Tresca and this is About IBD. It’s my mission to educate people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis about their disease and to bring awareness to the patient journey.

People living with IBD and especially those who are receiving biologics during the pandemic are coping with a lot of unknowns at the moment. While we’re waiting for the science to catch up, we all know we should be staying home, washing our hands as much as possible, and observing physical distancing when we do need to go out for supplies or when getting outside for some exercise. This is to protect ourselves, our families, and the more vulnerable members of our community, including older people.

On this episode I have Jamie Horrigan of “Sweetened By Nature.” I asked Jamie to talk with me because she lives with Crohn’s disease and gastroparesis, she has a fabulous blog with incredible recipes, she’s a 4th-year medical student, and she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She’s the perfect person to give us her experience with symptoms and testing, as well as an explanation of something called a cytokine storm and how that ties in to COVID-19 and people living with IBD who are immunosuppressed. 

AMBER:
Jamie, thank you so much for jumping on the line and talking with me today. We have a lot to discuss. So I want to jump right in. Could you let me know a little bit about your Crohn’s diagnosis and then I believe you also have gastroparesis as well?

JAMIE: 
Yeah, so for some people, they noticed kind of a drastic change overnight where they were completely normal and then developed all of these GI symptoms. For me, I’ve had GI symptoms for as long as I can remember even back to being a young child and even as a toddler. And I always tried to hide my symptoms, especially from my friends. Who wanted to be the kid that had to urgently leave the soccer field to go to the bathroom or leave during her own birthday party after eating the cake and pizza and that upsetting my stomach. And at the time, I really didn’t know that my symptoms were abnormal. I just thought this was how my stomach was and I just had to deal with it. 

So in fifth grade, I developed a viral meningitis. And after that illness, I frequently had mouth sores and they were associated with the GI symptoms. I mean, looking back that was kind of a clue like maybe this was some kind of trigger or the start of something more. In ninth grade, my pediatrician, just a routine physical asked about any GI symptoms, particularly if I had diarrhea. And that was when I kind of sheepishly answered and said it had been a longtime problem, and she referred me to a GI. And the GI thought at the time, I was probably IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, and we could try to do a colonoscopy if my symptoms worsen, but at 14 years old, a colonoscopy really freaked me out. So I opted to wait. 

By 12th grade we decided enough was enough and he thought I should, you know, we thought that we could finally schedule the colonoscopy just to see if there’s nothing more that we’re missing. And he found a little bit of inflammation, but at the time he thought it was kind of post viral and that I had been recovering from a virus. And these were just the changes as I was healing from the virus. And he suggested that I cut out gluten and dairy and kind of work with a nutritionist to see if that would help my symptoms at all. And they did. I mean, I did this for a long time and my symptoms improved but kind of as I got older, the symptoms did seem to worsen. Throughout college, I kind of played around with my diet, a lot for symptom relief, you know, tweaking things here and there. But by October of my senior year of college, it was like everything completely changed overnight. 

I went from being able to manage my symptoms just fine to having constant diarrhea and night sweats to the point where I had to change my clothes three to five times a night. And I slept on a towel because so I wouldn’t have to change my sheets multiple times a night, I could just change the towel much easier. I had knee pain that was so severe that just sitting in class or laying in bed was excruciating. And eating quickly became a chore. I mean, I could not eat much in the late afternoon it was easier to eat earlier on in the morning and around lunchtime. So I tried to eat most of my calories then because if I eat after the afternoon or even at night, then I’d be up all night nauseous and sometimes vomiting. 

And by December of that year, I lost 17 pounds, which I really didn’t have to lose. And my GI doctor first ordered a gastric emptying scan, which revealed I did have gastroparesis meaning my stomach did not empty as quickly as it should. And that caused a lot of my upper GI  symptoms, kind of the nausea and the vomiting, but it didn’t quite explain my lower GI symptoms and a lot of that abdominal pain I was experiencing. And then a few weeks after that, gastric emptying scan, I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy and that finally revealed the Crohn’s disease much clearer. 

And as scary as the diagnosis was, part of me was relieved because if I knew what was wrong with me, and if it had a name, then we could come up with a treatment plan. And thankfully, as we treated the Crohn’s the gastroparesis largely went away kind of over the next year and now I rarely experience symptoms of it, thankfully.

AMBER:
You said that you kind of thought it was normal when you were younger and when you were a teenager. And it’s interesting, because I’ve heard that a lot from people who were diagnosed very young. But you were dealing with this for a really long time before it worsened and you got to the point where you, first of all wanted to have a colonoscopy, and I identify with that not wanting to have one as a 14 year old girl, but then it must have had a severe effect on your school, on your social life. How did you cope with all of that?

JAMIE:
Yeah, I think I became a little bit shyer because of the whole situation. I mean, I had had some friends that would be like, “Oh, you have Jamie disease,” or “Jamie syndrome,” which I mean, was all fun and games, but it did get to me. I mean, being on a track meet and urgently having to get up and go or during practice, or I remember a few times being in school where I had to leave the bathroom more than once during the hour long class and you’re not supposed to do that. And it’s not like I was going to go tell my teacher and be like, “hey, like I need to go urgently use the bathroom” and just kind of sneak out and thankfully, I was a good student, so no one really questioned me. But it was definitely awkward at times, especially in the car. I mean, as you know, I mean, having urgent bathroom problems in the car is never fun, especially when you have friends in the car with you. Thankfully, my parents and my sister were supportive, but it definitely was hard.

AMBER:
Yeah  the car is the worst, like hands down, trapped, nowhere to go. It’s the worst.

JAMIE:
I know, my mom would always want to kill me, because say we stopped at one place to go to the bathroom. And then sometimes I would think I’d be done, get in the car but be like, oh, no, we have to go back. But I never wanted to go back to the same store. So I’d always make us go somewhere else.

[LAUGHTER]

AMBER:
These are the these are the little things that we live with, living with IBD, that people don’t usually know about. So your friends had like a shorthand that they would call it Jamie disease. Is that how that went? And so I’m assuming that first of all, you didn’t have any accommodations while you were in school. And then second of all, that you didn’t know anybody else who was living with IBD or anything similar.

JAMIE:  
Yeah, I don’t even think I knew what IBD was. Actually, so I met someone in college that said he had Crohn’s, I had no idea what the disease was. And all he told me was he stays away from dairy. And as long as he takes his medicine, he’s okay. And that was all I knew about Crohn’s, then

AMBER: 
That’s not too bad. I think that’s pretty good. That’s better than meeting someone who has really, really had a hard time with it. And then you’re scared about what’s to come for yourself.

[MUSIC: About IBD Transition]

AMBER:
I saw an Instagram that you posted because you are in the middle of what we are all in the middle of and you are in it in a very intimate and profound way. You were diagnosed with COVID-19. Would you start a little bit by telling me about what the symptoms were how that all began? And did you suspect it was COVID-19 at first

JAMIE:
Yeah. So I kind of had the classic symptoms of COVID-19. So I kind of suspected it, but more so because my cousins and I had just traveled internationally. And I also had potential exposures at the hospital where I work. But on our way back from the trip, one of our cousins got a text that one of his close friends that he had just spent another week with had tested positive for COVID-19. 

So at that point, we knew that we had all been exposed to our cousin, who potentially had it. So we decided to all self, there were a group of 17 of us that went away, and we all decided to self quarantine, just to be safe. And this was all before kind of everything was, it was not declared a pandemic quite yet. I mean, all the stores were still open and people were still going to work and restaurants and bars hadn’t closed yet. There’s no toilet paper shortage as of yet. 

So it was kind of, I don’t want to say it was a big deal, but it was bold that we decided to self quarantine because people hadn’t really started doing that yet. And we definitely didn’t want to expose any more people if we potentially had it and thankfully we did quarantine because most of us ended up developing it. I guess during the trip I had been, I left with a slight sore throat and then developed a cough on the trip. And I don’t know if that was a separate cold that I had that went out, because by the end of the trip it was gone, largely but then, two days after we got home, my sister started with fever and chills and her eyes hurt, which I thought was kind of strange. Like she said, she described it as anytime she would move her eyes, they would hurt and she kept icing them and she really doesn’t complain about anything. So it was kind of odd for her to complain about that. And then she said her skin was really sensitive, kind of like if you touched her, it would send shocks and tingles throughout her body. So that was just a big change for her. 

So her symptoms lasted about 48 hours, and then the fevers and everything went away but then she developed some bad congestion and she couldn’t smell and as her symptoms were improving mine started. So four days after we got back from the trip. I started with the fever, the chills, headache, body aches. My cough that I thought had been improving came back and my sore throat came back as well. And this time I developed some sores kind of in the back of my throat that actually started to bleed. And those are pretty difficult to deal with. And then I became congested, congested and quickly lost all sense of smell and taste besides the taste of salt. And I couldn’t even smell anything pungent even like vinegar, rubbing alcohol, I tried and nothing. 

So kind of before, before, I’d kind of suspected I said, this could be COVID-19. But I was also like, my symptoms are still kind of mild compared to what you’re hearing in the media about all these people, especially in China at the time being on ventilators and it being super severe. So I was like, this could just be a cold or just a little virus from traveling. So I didn’t quite know. When I lost my sense of smell and taste. I was also like, I want to say alarmed, but I thought it was odd. I thought my congestion was really bad. Maybe it had damaged some of the cells in my nose or something and I mean, gotten a sinus infection and that’s why I couldn’t smell or taste but then a couple of days later, it was all over the news that one of the common symptoms was losing taste and smell, especially in younger people. And that might even be the only symptom for some people. 

So it was at that point that I knew I probably had COVID-19 as well as my sister. I guess the other kind of symptom we had was appetite loss, which was pretty profound. I mean, we were still eating but it was just like our bodies were so revved up, probably the metabolism is going pretty strong that I personally lost 12 pounds after kind of two weeks of symptoms. 

AMBER:
Wow. It sounds like though, that a lot of the symptoms you were experiencing don’t really have an overlap with Crohn’s or gastroparesis, except maybe the appetite loss. So it wasn’t something where you were wondering, oh, could I just be experiencing a flare up?

JAMIE:
Yeah, not at all. I mean, on the trip, I did have one day with really, really bad GI symptoms which I know that 50% of people present with COVID with GI symptoms, so that could be part of it. Or it could have just been my Crohn’s having a bad day so it’s really hard to know but but during, after I got back my stomach, did you know, was pretty normal for me, right?

AMBER: 
Yeah. It’s hard to know there’s a lot of people right now who are saying, Oh my gosh, I have some really bad diarrhea. But how am I supposed to know what’s going on? So you knew that you had you were basically like a contact of a contact of someone that was positive. 

JAMIE:
Mm hmm. 

AMBER:
Did you decide at that point to get tested? And what was that process like getting in touch with anyone in healthcare to seek treatment or seek testing?

JAMIE:  
Yeah. So by the time we were back and everything, so our cousin had admitted to having some GI symptoms during the trip. And then he lost his sense of smell completely, which we didn’t realize on the trip. So he, we realized he probably had it, and then he later tested positive for it. 

And then, for me, it was, it was really easy to get tested just because I qualified in my state, in Massachusetts, as a immunocompromised person with recent international travel, classic symptoms, likely direct contact with someone with the virus, who was my cousin. And the fact that I’m a healthcare worker, and couldn’t expose other patients or go back to work until I knew that I didn’t have the virus myself. So I just called my doctor, told him my symptoms and we did kind of a little telemedicine visit. And a couple hours later, I had an appointment that evening to get tested. 

So everything happened really, really fast. And it was quickly we drove to the hospital parking garage where they had set up the drive thru testing area, and a couple of brave nurses greeted us at the car and they were all gowned up and they directed us to this parking spot. So we went over there and then a nurse came over to my window. We unrolled the window, and she quickly explained the process of swabbing my nose and the importance of getting a deep sample. If you’ve looked at diagrams of the nasal pharyngeal swab it almost looks like they’re going so far back and you’re kind of through the nose. It’s like almost touching your brain. So it’s obviously not touching your brain but it’s definitely a deep swab to get a good sample. 

So she swabs both my nostrils and it was I don’t want to say it was painful. It was uncomfortable but not pleasant, but not definitely not painful. And then we were on our way within seven minutes of arriving. So it was all really, really quick. The worst part was waiting for the results. So my sister her, she has a different doctor. So she was sent to a different drive through test to get tested at a different hospital. And her results came back in less than 24 hours. And her doctor called and said they were positive. And at that point, we knew that I also likely had it as well. But I had to wait five days for my results to come back officially.

AMBER:
Right. And I’m hearing also too from some folks that when one member of the household tests positive, they may not test the other members of the household, because then at that point is just presumed that you that you have it and so you should behave accordingly. 

JAMIE:
Right. 

AMBER:
So she tested positive. At that point, you were probably thinking: Yes, I’m also positive 

JAMIE:
Mm hmm. 

AMBER:
Even waiting for your results. 

JAMIE:
Yeah. 

AMBER:
And when they came back first with your sister’s positive test, what kind of instructions were given to her and then were any different ones may be given to you when you received your positive diagnosis,

JAMIE:
So when they called her first they checked in to make sure she was still doing okay breathing normally and everything, and they said the whole family needs to stay home and definitely self isolate. So at that point, the state didn’t call. So I don’t know if hers was just reported to a different person. But when my test came back positive a couple hours later, a public health nurse called and she said that our whole family needs to self isolate my sister and I should stay in our rooms, even for meals and avoid our parents. And every time we use the bathroom, we should disinfect it completely, even when it’s just the two of us using it to protect everyone else in the house. So that was, I guess the slight different instructions were given.

AMBER:
What was that day to day like sort of in your room? And how long did they tell you to do that for?

JAMIE: 
That’s where the difference comes in, is when they’re saying how long are we contagious. And I think I think the problem is no one really knows: is it two weeks after you present with symptoms, is it three to 10 days after your symptoms resolve? And I think nobody truly knows it. It’s not like they’re swabbing people to make sure they’re negative after because of the shortage and everything. 

So the public health nurse, what she told us is, our family should be quarantined for at least two weeks after I presented with symptoms since I presented after my sister. And then we kind of added she added a couple of days based on our recovery. So and thankfully, our parents never got it. I mean, if they did, they’re asymptomatic. And they were, I mean, the first few days we were home, we didn’t know we were sick. And obviously they hugged us when we got off the plane. And we were living in the same house and everything. Being careful, but not that careful at first.

AMBER:
Yes. Oh, that’s interesting. So your parents are fine, but they weren’t on the trip with you.

JAMIE: 
They weren’t but when we came back, we must have been extremely contagious is what I’m thinking just because of how they talked about, I think a spring break trip and like 40 out of 70 people that were on that plane got it. So I don’t know. There’s a lot of people that get asymptomatic infections. I know there was a day my mom had a headache but was her headache coronavirus? Or was it just a headache? It’s so hard to know.

AMBER:
That has to be such a weird and just sort of horrible thing to just be like every little thing you’re like, you know, when someone else in the house is positive, you’re wondering, every little thing that happens to you is it it is, you know, is it happening? Is it happening? 

[LAUGHTER]

JAMIE:
I know my dad said the same thing. 

AMBER:
Practically though, you’re you’re in your rooms. Obviously, you still have to eat, you still have to do certain things. Like, was there anything that you guys sort of did? Did you kind of like have a little bell? I’m coming out of my room. I gotta go to the bathroom. How did you manage that so you were sort of isolated from your parents?

[LAUGHTER]

JAMIE:
No, honestly, my sister and I hung out the whole time because we both had it. So the first few days we didn’t feel very well. So we were sleeping a lot watching TV, just hanging out with each other, hanging out with our cats like doing that kind of thing. And then once we started feeling better, we were able to get out for a short walk most days and I mean our neighborhoods pretty quiet. So we were able to get outside and you know, maintain a big distance between us and other people. We played a lot of board games got the old games. Game Cube and PlayStation out, played some games that looking back we hadn’t played since like 2007.  Did a lot of puzzles, did some virtual schoolwork and then thank goodness for technology, were able to stay in contact with their friends and you know FaceTime everybody.  

AMBER:
You work in a hospital. When you go to go back to your job, will they have to test you again?

JAMIE: 
I don’t know. So, so right now I’m a fourth year medical student and set to graduate in May. And as of right now, they suspended rotations for the rest of the year. So I won’t be entering the hospital as of now until June when residency starts. So I imagine by that point, they will, it will obviously be completely out of my system. I mean, even right now, I would hope I would test negative but I don’t know. It’s been like three weeks since I got sick or even longer. I think it depends on how the health hospital policy. I have some friends that are nurses and some of them have to test negative twice before going back and then others have to be asymptomatic for 14 days. So it’s hard to know, 

AMBER:
Right. There’s so many unknowns right now.

[MUSIC: About IBD Transition Piano]

AMBER: 
Was there anything that came out of isolation that was a positive in your view?

JAMIE:  
Yeah. So my family spent a lot of time together. And this was time that we wouldn’t have had without this pandemic going on, or especially if my sister and I didn’t get sick. So the plan for us was we were supposed to get off the plane, and then both go back to school. To finish up our years. We’re both seniors. She’s a senior in college, and I’m a senior in medical school. So we were both supposed to be as I was doing rotations, Michelle, my sister was supposed to be finishing up her year and you know, hanging with her friends doing all the normal senior year things. 

So we stayed home, once we thought we were potentially exposed to the virus and now you know, our parents are working from home and everything. So we have all this time together, where we’re playing these board games we haven’t played in years and going for multiple walks a day, watching TV together as a family. Whereas right now my parents should have been empty nesters without this pandemic going on. So that’s one big positive. 

Another is my sister and I will both be donating plasma to help sick patients in the ICU recover. And that’s kind of an experimental treatment right now that’s, has been FDA approved. And it seems to be helping some of these patients kind of fight the virus, I’m sure we can link it, there’s a way to sign up if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, that you can give all your information and they’ll contact you about potentially donating plasma. Once you’ve recovered for about two weeks, it’s almost like giving blood except they filter the plasma out of your blood, that, those are all the proteins that help patients kind of fight the virus.

And then we’ll also be giving a small blood sample for COVID antibody research for a separate company. So those are some positive things. And then for me in terms of returning to the hospital, I should have some immunity from the virus which will kind of make both me feel safer about working in the hospital and then hopefully some patients feel safer about being around me as a health care provider that will obviously you know, tend to other patients but then see others and hopefully not be a vector for disease transmission. I think we don’t know fully about immunity. But in terms of other viruses, other similar viruses, patients that have recovered at least had immunity for some time. So hopefully until there’s a vaccine, discovered that a lot of us that do get the virus are immune for some time.

AMBER:
How did you find out about the ability to donate the plasma and then also to take part in the research study? Was that something that you looked up? Or did anyone come to you and tell you about it?

JAMIE:
I follow a lot of doctors on Twitter and it seems to be a pretty good place. 

AMBER:
Yeah, same. 

JAMIE:
You got a lot of medical knowledge on there. And you know, the doctors are constantly posting about studies and everything. So I think one of them posted a link. Oh, no, you know what it was my cousin donated first. So Mount Sinai in New York City, asked for volunteers who had recently recovered from COVID-19 if it had been over over 14 days since they recovered to come get tested to see if their antibody levels were high enough for donation. So my cousin got tested and he was told that he has antibodies. So he definitely had it. But they weren’t high enough yet. So they wanted him to come back about a week later to get retested and see if his numbers are high enough, and then he could donate to the sick ICU patients. 

So I think it was Mount Sinai that pioneered this. And now there’s a website through I think it’s Michigan State, where you can put your information in and they’ll contact you about donating locally, if you meet the qualifications and everything. So that’s how I found out and I think also a lots of doctors were posting about using the antibodies to treat some of the really sick ICU patients and seeing some positive results there.

AMBER: 
I think I did see the one from Mount Sinai. So I’ll look up that information and make sure that I put it in the show notes so that it’s available to anybody who wants to participate in those things. Is there anything else that you want to tell people living with IBD or maybe healthcare providers about COVID-19?

JAMIE: 
As of right now, I think things are looking pretty good for us. IBD patients, it does not look like we’re at higher risk of contracting the virus or even getting sicker from it. The International World Organization for the Study of IBD has some really wonderful medication guidelines that I believe Amber has also written about on her website. 

And I’ll be honest, I was a little bit nervous about being on a biologic and working in the, in the healthcare field. I was supposed to be on an emergency medicine rotation right now. So this was kind of before I had traveled and before I gotten sick, I was nervous about being on a biologic and working in the ER as it’s probably it’s one of the worst places you can be in terms of exposures. So I was nervous about that. And then once I came down with the virus, I was a little bit nervous, but my symptoms never progressed to be that bad. So I kind of stayed, I stayed neutral. 

So I mean, at one point, about a week into the virus, I did get some shortness of breath and some chest pain with exertion but it never progressed at all. My breathing still stayed okay, it was just I got winded after doing half a flight of stairs and then as soon as I stopped and rested it, it went away. And that lasted for maybe a week, but it never progressed to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. So I still felt safe. And also I’m on Entyvio so it’s more of a targeted biologic as opposed to some of the other biologics that are more systemic. But at the same time, there’s they’re saying that some of these biologics could even be potential treatments for these COVID patients. 
And the theory is because that why some of these patients get so sick is because of something called cytokine storm. So this is when the immune system kind of overreacts to the virus and produces all these inflammatory, like inflammatory factors called cytokines. And the immune system by overreacting can cause the patient to get really sick and really just cause a dramatic response to this virus, whereas other people might not react that badly. 

And for those of us on some of these IBD medications that are immunosuppressants, it calms down some of these cytokines, so we potentially could be in a better place because we’re already on some of these medications. So maybe it’ll keep our immune systems in check. But I don’t think anybody quite understands all the mechanism seems quite yet. But that’s why I think I partially felt safer about being on a biologic and having having COVID.

AMBER:  
Right, that all makes sense. And it’s the same thing that I’ve been reading about. And unfortunately, we just don’t know right now. But we’re so fortunate you mentioned on Twitter, the IBD community internationally has responded to this in such a quick and profound and deep way: they are on top of it. And there is that registry, which I have linked to from my website, and my writings on COVID-19. But I’ll also put it in the show notes, because they’re tracking patients with IBD, who developed COVID-19 through a registry and then following them through through recovery. So we’re getting that data right now. It was somewhere in the in the low three hundreds patients in that registry right now. 

But as that starts to go up, I mean, that’s not a bad sample. But as it starts to go up, we’ll learn more and more about this. And hopefully this all can help some people with anxiety because being on a biologic, having IBD, feeling as though you’re vulnerable, it does cause a lot of anxiety. But you know, your story is so helpful. And thank you so much for explaining the cytokine storm in a very succinct way that I don’t think I ever could have done. So I appreciate that!

JAMIE:
Thank you.

AMBER: 
So I want to talk to you a little bit too about your blog, about Sweetened By Nature, and all of the great stuff that you’re cooking. You know, like the pancakes you posted the other day, like, please, like, I’m gonna have to make pancakes over the weekend. I hope I can find some berries or something. So tell me about your blog and about your advocacy work in that way.

JAMIE:
Yeah, so I’ve been blogging since 2015. around when I was diagnosed, and I’m most active on Instagram, because it’s so easy to write a quick story or, you know, post a quick little Instagram post, as opposed to writing on the blog, but I am pretty active on the blog as well and I’ll post recipes there, and most of them are very IBD and autoimmune friendly, where they’re mostly gluten and dairy free. A lot of them are paleo. A good amount number of them are specific carbohydrate diet friendly and also autoimmune protocol compliant. 

And then in addition to a lot of the nutrition things, I share tips for medical students general lifestyle tips for anyone, and then I’ll share my story as a medical student a few weeks from graduating with my MD terms of future plans, I probably will be doing a lot of the same talking, you know, nutrition and lifestyle and IBD will always be a big focus on the blog. But I might share more medically oriented posts relating to residency and what I’m learning, each rotation that I think would be valuable for the general public to learn.

AMBER:
What kind of medicine do you think that you will practice?

JAMIE:
So my residency will be in internal medicine, and I’m going to a program with really, really a wonderful GI and I already have an awesome GI mentor there. I was fortunate enough to spend a month rotating there last summer with the GI department so I’m definitely very interested in GI trying to keep my options open but I do love GI.

AMBER:
That’s amazing. I love to hear when people who live with IBD also go into health care. And because there is nothing like, not that we want anyone to have IBD. But there’s nothing like having a health care provider who really really truly understands what it’s like to live with digestive disease, whether or not you disclose to your patients. I think it changes the way that you practice medicine. So I think that’s, that’s really wonderful. 
And thank you so much for talking with me and explaining all this about COVID-19. I think it’s so interesting because your background and that you developed the symptoms that you did, and then getting testing and recovery, you were sort of able to cover all of the things that I think people have a lot of questions about right now. Thankfully, you’re also recovering and your parents have not developed it. They’re staying home though still, right?

JAMIE: 
Yeah, everyone’s home, but they feel fine. So.

AMBER:
That’s, that’s so great. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

JAMIE: 
Thank you so much Amber for having me I’ve had a really wonderful time kind of going over some, you know my diagnosis and my experience with COVID-19. Hopefully this will alleviate some anxiety and other IBD patients who may be on biologics and are fearful of contracting the virus and hopefully everyone stays well and if they do happen to catch it, recover fully kind of like I did. 

AMBER: Thank you so much. 

JAMIE:
Thank you.

[MUSIC: About IBD Theme]

AMBER:
Hey, super listener. Thank you to Jamie Horrigan of “Sweetened By Nature” for agreeing to talk with me last minute in order to share her experiences in living with Crohn’s disease, gastroparesis, and being diagnosed with COVID-19. You can find Jamie on Facebook as sweetenedbynatureblog, on Instagram as sweetenedbynature, on Twitter as jamiehorrigan and on her blog sweetenedbynatureblog.com. I will put all of Jamie’s information in the show notes and on the episode 68 page on my site, aboutibd.com

You will also find links to my sources for the information in this episode in the show notes. For more updates, follow me as aboutIBD on all social media or check the COVID-19 page on my site at aboutIBD.com. And as always, don’t take my word for it, check with your healthcare team about anything in regards to your IBD.

Did you know you can help me keep producing this show? It’s easy to do! All you need to do is subscribe in your favorite podcast app and leave a review there. If you’ve already left me a review, thank you very much.

About IBD is a production of Mal and Tal Enterprises.

It is written, produced, and directed by me, Amber Tresca.

Sound engineering is by Mac Cooney. Theme music is from Cooney Studio

Until next time, I want you to know more about IBD.

One thought on “About IBD Episode 68 – What It’s Like to Have IBD and COVID-19

  1. Pingback: COVID-19 Survivors: Stories of Hope in the IBD World – Own Your Crohn's

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