An Ostomy Is a Beginning - About IBD Podcast Episode 134 - Brad Watson-Davelaar

An Ostomy Is a Beginning – About IBD Podcast Episode 134

Brad Watson-Davelaar, founder of Gaming for Guts, shares his experiences in living with Crohn’s disease and how he found support and community through his IBD journey. He talks about his ostomy surgery and how for him, it is a beginning rather than an end.

Brad describes the upcoming fundraising event sponsored by Gaming for Guts to celebrate World IBD Day on May 19th. It will feature Canadian-themed activities in support of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The IBD and gaming communities are encouraged to get involved with the fun. Brad also shares his thoughts on how the gaming community helps people with IBD connect to form meaningful relationships.

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Episode transcript and more information at:

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Amber Tresca 0:05
I’m Amber Tresca and this is About IBD. I’m a medical writer and patient educator who lives with a j-pouch due to ulcerative colitis. 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.

Amber Tresca 0:22
Welcome to Episode 134.

Amber Tresca 0:25
My guest is Brad Watson-Davelaar from Crohn’s Awareness Project and Gaming 4 Guts. Brad is a newlywed, a new ostomate, and is soon to become a first-time dad. Needless to say, he’s got a lot on his plate. 

He shares the way he worked through his initial resistance to ostomy surgery for his Crohn’s disease and how the support of his medical team and his wife helped him come to understand that it was not a failure.

Amber Tresca 0:52
He also gives the details on the latest happenings with Gaming 4 Guts. We last heard from some of the admins of this community on Episode 83, which highlighted their annual IBD Awareness Week fundraiser in December. 

Brad is now putting together an event for World IBD Day on May 19th, which will include the participation of your favorite streamers from the IBD community, as well as some fundraising milestones you won’t want to miss.

Amber Tresca 1:24
Brad, thank you so much for coming on About IBD

Brad Watson-Davelaar 1:26
Thank you for having me.

Amber Tresca 1:29
Yeah, of course, I’m really excited to get into a lot of the things that you’ve been experiencing over the past couple of years. But first, let’s tell everyone who you are. Would you introduce yourself briefly?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 1:42
Hi, I am Brad Watson-Davelaar, and I’ve been raising awareness for IBD since I was in my teen years. I have been I have Crohn’s, I was diagnosed at the age of 17. And most people know me from either the Crohn’s Awareness project or Gaming4Guts.

Amber Tresca 1:59
Yes, of course, I know you from both. But there, I feel like we know a lot about each other already. But there’s a lot that I don’t know about you. And this is one of the weird things I always say about meeting people. As you get older in life, you’ve lived a whole life that I don’t know anything about, including your diagnosis journey. So that’s where I would really love to start, I’d love to know, when you were diagnosed and what that process was like,

Brad Watson-Davelaar 2:25
Well, I, I was diagnosed when I was 17. Back in high school. And it’s been so long, so the memory gets foggy as the years go by. But I directly remember, weeks, if not months of not being able to make it home from school without an accident. And I was beyond embarrassed and ashamed and would not talk to anyone about it. I didn’t know about IBD or anything back then. And I know when I did start talking about it like my mom and stepdad went the route of you eat a lot of a lot of bran and stuff like that. It’s probably just that.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 3:12
And it would go for a little bit longer before like I was taken into see a doctor and I remember my GP being very surly about it, too. I don’t think he was he was happy that he had to do the extra work to figure out if I had anything wrong. It was definitely hard in the earlier years. I didn’t talk about it. Because in high school I was bullied for having Crohn’s. I have a specific memory where a bully shoved me against a locker and asked me is this where your Crohn’s is and then proceeded to punch me in the guts. So that kept me quiet for years. And standardly

Brad Watson-Davelaar 3:54
Yeah, like it took me a while. And it wasn’t until I was on my own. Like, I had my own care that I realized I needed to talk about it more because no one knew. It was it was more of an unknown at that point.

Amber Tresca 4:15
Unknown for you or unknown for everyone around you.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 4:18
It felt like in my time in avise advocacy at that point. No one knew of Crohn’s or IBD were compared to today. People know the terms Crohn’s and IBD and have very generalized facts of stuff. And usually it’s just oh, it’s that washroom disease.

Amber Tresca 4:46

Brad Watson-Davelaar 4:47
So like we’ve come a long way, but we still no need to keep going.

Amber Tresca 4:52
Right? So I have to point out Brad, you said washroom, because you’re Canadian. What is a? Bathroom or a restroom? What? Which, you know, neither one of those things actually makes a lot of sense. I know some places they’ll just say toilet, which Yeah, that’s what it is right? You know bathroom? Well, there’s not always a bath restroom. It’s not I don’t know. Usually, especially not when you have IBD, you’re usually doing something really critical. But in Canada, there’s a lot of IBD. Like, I believe even more so than there is in the United States things so yet, it wasn’t understood when you were growing up?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 5:37
No, like, and I like to get upset at my parents at the time. Because my grandmother had lupus. And it’s known that that is technically where I got Crohn’s from. Because autoimmune disease, you typically get something in the grouping. If it’s not IBD, you might get something else like a cousin of mine. She I can’t even remember because it took her 15 years to get diagnosed. But it was again, it was I think it’s an autoimmune disease that’s part of this. But it’s, it’s a gamble. And her my mom and her sisters, they just had IBS. So like, they never really thought about it. So yeah, it was an unknown. In my early years, yeah.

Amber Tresca 6:30
Yeah. Which I think is true for a lot of people. Unfortunately, even these days, it is a lot different. But I still speak to a lot of people who have the same experience that you did, which is unfortunate. But that’s also why we’re here.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 6:44
Right, exactly.

Amber Tresca 6:45
So well, you’ve been through a lot. So you were diagnosed, many, many things happen to you. And you did wind up having surgery, a few surgeries? I think so. Can you take me through, you know, what was it that precipitated the surgery finally? And what made you make the decision to have the surgeries that you did?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 7:11
Well, it’s funny, because I am like in this journey of healing now. And I look at myself, and I’m like, wow, this is what like a healthier person looks like. And as you know, with social media, they it likes to come up with memories and stuff. And memories will come up from just before I had my like big roller coaster fall.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 7:35
And it’d be like, I thought I was healthy, then. These are two different people still. But I remember getting engaged in 2019. And near the end of the year, was feeling rough. I thought it was just you know, it was a bad year was too stressed out. And that was it. And things kept sliding and sliding. And then COVID hit. And as you well know, doctors became incredibly hard to see and deal with. So we would take me a year, year and a half of fighting to get people to notice that I was like at the point in early 2020. I was eating double cheeseburgers, two to three times a day, every day. For a few weeks. I still did not gain a single pound. I was like, excessively underweight.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 8:41
And my doctors did not seem to see it nor and he just kept going like I don’t know. I don’t know. And I had a remember having a scope in June 2020. And he finally acknowledged something and was like, Okay, we’ll change you from Humira to Entyvio. And I thought that was going to be good. It was good for a little bit. It took a while. So I got on prednisone after saying I would never do prednisone again. I actually asked for it.

Amber Tresca 9:14

Brad Watson-Davelaar 9:16
And then I started bleeding and bleeding. This type of bleeding. Yeah, like I used to. So I used to get blood in my stool. And when I did, it’d be like, oh, man, I’d like sit there and look back and like, Oh, I’ve been stressed and pretty hard. Recently, I need to like, try and bring it back. So I thought maybe I’ve just been stressing, and then it would get worse, much, much worse. And I remember and she hates that. I still remember this by I asked one of my wife’s friends about it. And she’s like, her comment was oh, women bleed every month. You’re okay. Oh, okay. Yeah.

Amber Tresca 9:59
Yeah. Okay, but it’s from a different place.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 10:03
She realized how excessive it was. Okay. And I have a bad history as I think I’ve come to realize that a lot of IBD patients do. We don’t like going to the hospital. Yeah, maybe kind of avoid it. Unless we’re being like, dragged. Yes. So I was deathly skinny, probably pale as all hell. And my wife and her, her mother finally convinced me to go into the hospital. And my hemoglobin was, I think, at 20. And I was quickly brought in for blood transfusion for my very first time. That was scary.

Amber Tresca 10:49

Brad Watson-Davelaar 10:49
And for a few months, I went for blood transfusions until my GP was like, he, he told me basically, getting blood is mostly safe. But there are still risks. Of course, we should try and get your iron levels up so that you can produce blood red blood cells. So okay, let’s do that. And we go about that. And it’s another six months before I end up, losing my GI, he ghosted me, I guess he just had enough, stop talking to me,

Amber Tresca 11:26
Oh, boy.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 11:27
And it would take a few months before I like got handed over to another one in in the office. I think that was my fourth gi in that office. And she, it was a breath of fresh air. And I don’t want to use the sex thing. But I feel like because I was dealing with a lady, she kind of cared more. And I think that was a first. So she made it her mission to figure out what was wrong.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 11:56
One of the very first things I ever dealt with after being diagnosed was I had an abscess, had quick surgery to have it lance and all that turned into a fissure. And it’s been fine for most of my life, it becomes worse here and there. The abscess came back and came back strong. And then the fissure came back, came back strong, I could not sleep, I could not sit, I could not stand, I could not walk. So after a few months of going to the hospital, all that we ended up with the point of me going to see a surgeon to have that removed.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 12:30
And when she looked at my butt, she was just like, your rectum is toast dude. Like, I actually think you need to like, we need to, like, look at removing this. And at the time, she’s like, let’s maybe look at doing a resection as well. And this would have been my second resection. And it was like, Okay, what, whatever we need to do, I don’t like living like this.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 12:57
And so I went in for another scope. I was getting scopes two to three times a year, I became excellent at scope prep like that. As everyone knows, people have anxiety around scope prep. As did I, I can do it like this now, too, it’s so much. So I went in, they couldn’t get the camera even into my colon.

Amber Tresca 12:57
Oh my gosh.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 12:57
So they’re like, Okay, colon’s gotta go. Like, okay. During my first resection, I had, they sent me to see a counselor, because I might have woken up with an ostomy. Yeah. And at that point, it was the scariest thing in my life, I wanted nothing to do with it. And it was a lot to do with the relationship I was in. I didn’t believe that I would be seen this as the same person, right?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 12:57
My wife makes me feel like the best person every day. So I knew, like we still would be okay. And I think that was a huge part of what made me feel comfortable about it, right? We get everything set up. And then I’d be like, Okay, I need to get married. This is going to take too long, like, it’s gonna take me out of the picture for too long. I need to get married.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 12:57
So my surgeon and my GI, they like powwow together. And I was basically put on antibiotics or my antibiotics and steroids were cranked back to their top level. And I was left on those for another half a year. Got married, was like let’s do this. And then we went into the surgery. After that they they let me they scheduled me to see a ostomy nurse, which for those that get to know that they’re having the surgery, like this is a benefit. I feel terrible for those who just go into it as an emergency surgery and that’s so much harder to do Do it.

Amber Tresca 12:57

Brad Watson-Davelaar 12:57
So he, as they do sent me home with samples, and I decided that while I should get used to this, and I stuck one on my spot and wore it for three days. Now, I will get into this later because this is going to be in a different question. But I have new advice for people doing that. But yeah, so generally it was a long story short is I went through so much in those three years, that I was ready for whatever that could give me a better, better life, especially as we were getting ready to start preparing for the next chapter of our life lives.

Amber Tresca 16:02
Brad, did you do anything special to prepare for your wedding? And how did you get through it all?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 16:08
The regimen that I went through to get through that, because it was a weekend event. We were at like this lodge for the weekend. I smoke weed. Admittedly, since being healthier, I smoke far less, how nice is that? But for the wedding, I basically was taking THC pills, because I didn’t want to be smelling like pot and Imodium every few hours for three, four days. So I’m pretty sure I had a level of high that was going on always. But it kept me like level right? Like I got through that wedding. And my friends. My friends were key. It was a such a monumental weekend to get through. And I don’t know how I did it still to this day.

Amber Tresca 17:01
Needless to say, it has been a very eventful few years for you. You had a very eventful pandemic. And the milestones just keep coming. Because your next milestone is fatherhood.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 17:18
Mm hmm.

Amber Tresca 17:19
And so I’m wondering, this is a gigantic question. How do you think that becoming a dad is going to change your life?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 17:28
Well, the funny thing is, I’ve been talking to my wife a lot about this over the last few months have i I’ve come to realize that obviously there’s no perfect time to become a parent. Yep. But this is like, this is a part of my life that I think I am like beyond ready for I am ready to focus on someone, some someone something other than myself. Because I’ve just gone through so much. And I want to be able to put everything I’ve learned and gone through. Because everything I’ve gone through has taught me to be a better person.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 18:14
And like if I became a dad in my early 20s, I just don’t think I would be the same dad that I would be right now. Yeah, like I’ve come to know so much about myself that I can then use that to be a better father going forward. And it’s going to be an insanely tough journey. I know that but I can’t help but be extremely excited for everything. And my wife and her mom like to say well, like what? What happens if she what happens if she gets IBD?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 18:48
Like, I honestly, she’ll be okay. She’s got me, I had no one growing up close to us that I could turn to. So I just I think it’s going to be an insanely amazing time. And I can’t wait for all the good and bad moments honestly.

Amber Tresca 19:12
Yeah, I would say that — look, parenting is hard. I mean, that’s a dumb question. You’re right. Everybody knows that it is difficult. But I will say from my perspective, I went into parenthood in much the same way that you are going into it. Couldn’t wait, long time coming, wanted to be a mom and had to make it happen for myself. A lot of people maybe might have that journey, that part of the journey be a little bit easier. But had to be very intentional about the way that I became a mother. And I think what that left me with was such a feeling of gratefulness, that even in the difficult parts, I can still find a way to be grateful.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 20:03
Of that 100% I totally get that. Yeah.

Amber Tresca 20:07
And I also understand that the the, the caregiving part of it, there’s probably there’s probably like deep psychological things there. But I know for myself, if I’m caring for someone else, I feel so much better.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 20:21
Yes. Yep.

Amber Tresca 20:23
You know, I won’t cross the street for myself…

Brad Watson-Davelaar 20:26
I’ll push my wife to, like, go to the hospital or see a doctor or whatever, like, 100% Faster Than I’ll do it myself.

Amber Tresca 20:36
Yeah, for sure. 100%. You know, that’s probably not a great way to be. But that’s just how it is.

Amber Tresca 20:43
So you know, you’ve got a lot on your plate, you do a lot, you’re so busy. I’m always in awe of everything that you have going on. Because of course, we interact on social media. A lot. You’ve always got something cooking. I don’t know, not convinced that you’re not actually, people.

Amber Tresca 21:01
But so let’s talk about this, though. Let’s talk about your work in the IBD. Community, your work with the group Gaming4Guts? Can you give me a description of Gaming4Guts, and then the kind of events that you all have had over the years?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 21:08
For sure. So Gaming4Guts is a growing community of both beautiful people with IBD and amazing friends and family support, who support people with IBD. We started as a little ragtag group, just Rob and I, Rob came to me through Crohn’s Awareness Project and thought like was like, hey, I want to get together with you to look at starting something, to help raise awareness and ultimately become a proper charity. And it was amazing, because at that point, I had crashed and burned a charity attempt, because I went so hard, trying to make something huge. And then this thing just came into my lap, and it was so small, and it was just for fun.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 23:10
And over the years, we’ve just kept growing, but like, as just a little community. And we’ve done so much for our little group, like I can’t, I am so proud of everyone that is part of it. And in the I think we’re nine years this year, over that time, we’ve raised just over $61,000, American, which is unfathomable, honestly. And then I like to put it into Canadian dollars. And it’s like, over 80,000 I’m like, yes. But yeah, I know, we wanted to make a charity that was for people like us, because it’s changed a lot since we first started.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 23:10
But at that point, most IBD charities were runs, walks, big galas. We’re introverts. We don’t want to do that stuff. So you know, a bunch of introverts get together and we play some video games, and we just have a good time. You know, there’s nothing better than that.

Amber Tresca 23:17
I agree, completely. Tell me about the event that you have coming up the next event that you’re doing for World IBD Day.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 23:25
So as it’s known, we’ve talked a little bit I’m Canadian.

Amber Tresca 23:33

Brad Watson-Davelaar 23:37
Anyway, Canadian in the group out of the administration that is. So I get I get dragged on a lot. It’s fun. I’ve been trying to get myself noticed by Crohn’s and Colitis, Canada, and they actually came to us requesting for us to do something for them. Worst time, but hey, we’re getting with it.

Amber Tresca 24:00

Brad Watson-Davelaar 24:01
So, you know, it took some serious thought, because I don’t, I don’t want to overload people. And so we have our main event in December, and I didn’t want to have anything like directly corresponding right around that time. And it was like okay, what’s what’s another big IBD time in the year? World IBD day and we’ve never really done much for it.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 24:24
Last year, we attempted to start doing a stream it was small made a little money. It’s okay, well not made donate, like, made donations. Yeah, this this time, as I like to put it on the ads. G for G is going Canadian, a Canadian accent on there. So it’s going to be interesting. We’re gonna be doing as many Canadian centric themed things as we can.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 24:54
I have done my best to research Canadian games, Canadian devs so my My hope is that we’re actually doing it more with a Canadian flair, like almost everything, just because I wanted to differentiate it from the main event as much as possible. So there’ll be pancakes. There’ll be maple syrup. I don’t know if you’ve seen my posts, but one of my incentives will be for X amount of dollars donated or every X amount of donor dollars donated, I will take maple syrup shots. If you’ve seen Super Troopers,

Amber Tresca 25:31
Okay, but why is that hard? Like, that’s not hard.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 25:35
It adds up. I want unfortunately, actually, you know, we might bring in one of our milestones that we didn’t get to do from the main event, due to personal things happening behind the scenes with some friends. And I might do my hot sauce, my hot ones challenge in in there, we’ll see. I’ve got the hot sauces.

Amber Tresca 26:01
So what would the challenge be? I know that’s like a big thing now is like there are podcasts and stuff where people eat hot peppers or eat spicy foods, what what would the challenge be just eat hot things or will you do it on a stream it on stream?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 26:15
My goal was to do it as close to hot ones as possible. So I would basically have one person that would have a set of questions, obviously IBD related, and awareness related. And we’d throw in some fun ones, and just have people do the gauntlet and see what happens. If the interviews that happen out of those out of hot ones are amusing because the hot sauce tends to take people out of their element and make them open up so much more. So I’m curious to see how it works. It’ll be fun.

Amber Tresca 26:54
Yeah, me too. So. So you’re gonna be streaming? How many people are streaming? And then it’s on May 19? Is it?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 27:04
So yeah, we my original plan was like, let’s do it on world IBD day. And then we had a group conversation. And I’m actually happy because I wasn’t sure of how many people were going to come in for this one. And everyone’s like, well, let’s just do it like we do it. Let’s do the whole weekend. Like, okay, cool. Let’s do the whole weekend, as it always tends to be. This is a monumental effort. So right now, I know we have a good 8 to 10 people confirmed, but it’s been nice because Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has been amazing. Like they have been corresponding with me constantly. Anytime I like request something. They’re fair with it. It’s been nice. It’s been real good.

Amber Tresca 27:58
And so are you still looking for people to stream?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 28:02

Amber Tresca 28:04
And so what what would be the best way for somebody to get involved with the community and learn if they’re interested in streaming? Or just perhaps watching the stream or donating or watching you all eat hot food or take good shots of maple syrup? I don’t I would do that challenge. But anyway, how can folks get in touch?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 28:24
So generally, you can find us on most social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram via at Gaming4Guts. Our Discord is one of the better places to talk with us and the community. That one’s a little harder. I’ll give you a a link for that. Because that gets numbers and letters and stuff. But our Discord community is a very loving group of people. I’m actually very impressed with our community like I love them. And that would be the best place to reach out because then there are multiple people that can get back to you.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 29:21
Whearas on social media it’s it’s a bit more of a free for all. So yeah, I would say Discord is easily the best place. You can find us also on tilta phi that is our donation page. I would say yeah, come Come find us on on Discord. Say Say what you want and we’ll be there.

Amber Tresca 29:28
Right? Definitely. And I’m in the Discord server as well. It’s always nice to be part of a supportive community and especially one that is moderated. So we’ll just leave it at that.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 29:41
The nice thing of discord over say Facebook, like the Facebook groups is discord you can have set sections. So if people don’t want to, like be inundated with health problems constantly, they don’t have to, like they can come and just participate In the fun parts, but if they want to have questions answered or find out more than they’ve got that health spot, because I know some people have told me that that’s why they don’t like Facebook groups. So it is a open and varied place. And you won’t have people telling you that your feelings aren’t valid, because I’ve heard that too.

Amber Tresca 30:24
Oh, yeah, for sure. And that’s true, you know, I have all of my professional pages, right. So that’s where a lot of that stuff is. And I can be intentional about engaging with it. But if you’re just logging into your Facebook page, because you’re just wanting to interact, families see the latest pictures of somebody’s vacation, but you are not in a place where you’re willing, or you’re ready, I should say, to engage with health content, and that’s completely valid, but then it’s there. And there’s not really great ways to sort of segmented I do love that about discord and discord servers in general is that you can decide where you want to be. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 31:10

Amber Tresca 31:11
So you’re right about that. And then also to a lot of us have things in common that have nothing to do with IBD. Exactly. And we can get all nerdy about it in there. And it’s really that’s, that’s quite nice. Yeah, yeah.

Amber Tresca 31:46
All right, Brad, as a new ostomate, I think it’s been about a year for you…?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 31:50
Eight months.

Amber Tresca 31:52
Oh, it’s only been eight months. Yeah, here.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 31:54
I know. It’s the time feels like it’s fine. Yeah,

Amber Tresca 31:58
I’m sure it does. Well, it’s because you know, you keep yourself busy. But But things are still really fresh for you is what I’m thinking. And so I’m wondering if you have any advice for people looking back on your past eight months? For those having ostomy surgery in their future? What might you say to them?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 32:22
Well, one of the things I would definitely start with is a correction of my own feelings from before my surgery, which was I thought, having an ostomy was the end of the road. That was you basically failed, everything you’ve up, there’s my first swear beep. You messed up, and it’s on you. Like it’s almost like a feeling of failing. And that was a for a huge majority of my life, the way I thought of ostomies.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 33:01
Until I and I admittedly, I avoided the subject, because I don’t like talking about stuff that I don’t have personal experience with. I don’t want to be giving misinformation. So I just I avoided it. And I was afraid of it. As I mentioned before, personal issues people I was with. So going into this, I tried to be as open as possible. And as I said my wife was a huge help. And I mentioned earlier that I got to see an ostomy nurse. And one of the biggest helps was definitely testing that bag. Yeah, having that bag on me getting used to the feeling.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 33:43
And I’d take it a step further for people, which I learned in talking with people about it was maybe put some water in there. Put some oatmeal. Put something. Yeah, there you go. That actually yeah, oatmeal on pudding are two good ones. Yeah. It’ll give you a sense of what like what the weight feels like. But the best or the the main part was getting used to it in bed, I think was was the most helpful bit.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 34:12
But I can tell you after eight months, I wish this was something that I thought of earlier. Because I feel like I lost decades of myself. And you mentioned how you think I’m two people all at once. Well, I feel like it’s because I’m trying to catch up for all the last time of being sick and not being able to do the things I wanted to do. I want people to know that ostomies are not an end, but merely a beginning, a fresh start.

Amber Tresca 34:47
And you’re not the first person I’ve heard say that also. So I think it’s worth reinforcing that. For some people. It can be a really great decision and can give them, give them their life back or give them a life. Yes. Because yeah, watching, you go through all of this, get down to where you weren’t keeping the weight on, you were bleeding, you are very transparent about your whole journey this whole time, you’re using your artwork, I’m gonna make an assumption that you use your artwork to help you cope a little bit.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 35:25
Oh, yeah,

Amber Tresca 35:26
But but it also gave me and all of the rest of your followers a way to understand what was happening to you, and hopefully, people outside of the IBD community, a way to understand what it was like to be you. And I think you’re right, coming at it from the mental space. Understanding that it is going to be something that’s going to be a positive thing in your life and approaching it in that way, is going to be the best way to ensure that you have a good outcome. I think,

Brad Watson-Davelaar 36:01
I would also say, and I know it probably be hard for some people at first, but being open about it is also truly helpful. My friends, like I was open with my friends and everything. And they admittedly, my friends were really good that they asked me questions and like they they looked right, I showed I’ve been very open about showing Shawn and showing what he’s looked like through every stage, even when I messed up, and he wasn’t looking so good. I still show that.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 36:36
But I am thankful for friends who want to learn and not just be like, no, because that does help. Like you’re not, you’re not going through it alone. If your friends are there beside you still.

Amber Tresca 36:51
Absolutely. Well, Brad, I want to ask you about your wedding. I want to ask you here, Brad’s like, well, you know, how long do you have? I don’t know if you’ve ever seen pictures of my wedding. I was married at medieval times in New Jersey. And so we got married in what was Renaissance Italian style clothing. You yourself wore kilts for your wedding. So, tell me about that decision and what that was like?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 37:27
Well, and amusingly enough to go back to the bit of seeing my ostomy nurse, when I had my placement for where Shawn would go. The one concern was, I want to wear my kilt. So he made sure to put it in a spot that would not hinder when I was wearing my kilt.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 37:51
Those that might know I am Gaelic, in descent might see it in my beard. I am from Nova Scotia, I do have a family tartan from the Watson clan. But it was I had not seen it in person up until my wedding and pictures of it. It’s very mustardy. And I was like, I don’t want that. So I went with my home tartan, that the Nova Scotia tartan. It’s beautiful colors.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 38:26
And I think that was the one thing for my whole adult life was when I got married, I wanted to wear a kilt. And it’s actually a tradition in my side of the family, everyone has done or all the males have done it except for my father. Something growing up, it was a dream and a tradition and I had to keep that tradition going and now I have that kilt for me with me for life. And I will wear it for all my daughter’s special events. And it is my formal wear now.

Amber Tresca 38:59
I love that. And it made for some spectacular photography as well. And so I want to make sure that everyone can get access to where you’re all of your creative endeavors are showcased, so that they can enjoy it as much as I have. So take me through this may take this may take a hot minute to check through all of the social media. Can you tell me where we can send people and I’ll put it all in the show notes of course. But where can folks find you so that they can engage with you further?

Brad Watson-Davelaar 39:33
Okay, well, on Twitter, you can find me mostly at at BW photo Canada. on Facebook. It’s Crohn’s Awareness Project. Instagram would be BW photo as well. As you can see, I I did not do good with separating. I had started separated and then for whatever reason decided nope I I am just going to be open and show who I am even on my photography side. And honestly, it’s gone. Okay. But yeah, mostly you can find me either BW photo, or the Crohn’s Awareness Project. And obviously, Gaming4Guts. But that’s a group effort.

Amber Tresca 40:19
Right and Gaming4Guts has the discord server. You’re also on Twitter as Gaming4Guts

Brad Watson-Davelaar 40:25
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but Instagram, Twitter and discord are probably the most active. Well,

Amber Tresca 40:33
It does seem to be working for you. Like I said, you do have a very strong presence on social media, I appreciate it. I appreciate you sharing your journey with everyone in the way that you have. You probably hear back from people all of the time.

Amber Tresca 40:48
But I will say that probably for every one person that gets back to you, and lets you know that you have made a difference in their life, there’s probably 10 More that for whatever reason are you have made a difference for them, but maybe they just aren’t really able to tell you in that way. So it’s been so incredible to watch your journey to see that you are feeling so much better now to be married. You have a baby on the way I can’t wait to see what you do with the photography for that baby, that’s gonna be…

Brad Watson-Davelaar 41:19
I have plans, I’ve already got our six month Christmas photos planned out.

Amber Tresca 41:26
Like, you know what, that’s amazing, I would expect nothing less. So and then thank you for engaging with me and letting me know about the event that you have coming up for World IBD day with Gaming4Guts, and it won’t be the last one. There’ll be many more to come on future years for anyone who’s listening to this after World IBD day in 2023. So thank you, Brad, thank you for talking with me. Thank you for everything you do for the community. And I really appreciate you.

Brad Watson-Davelaar 41:56
Thank you so much.

Amber Tresca 42:03
Hey super listener!

Amber Tresca 42:05
Thanks to Brad Watson-Davelaar for sharing his journey and for putting so much of his wisdom and experience back into the IBD community. You can find him across the interwebs as Crohn’s Awareness Project and bwdphotocanada. Gaming 4 Guts is the community that’s sponsoring the World IBD Day event the weekend of May 19th. You can find them all over the interwebs as @gaming4guts, that’s with the number 4. 

Amber Tresca 42:32
Links to a written transcript, everyone’s social media handles, the link to the Gaming4Guts Discord server, and more information on the topics we discussed is in the show notes and on my Episode 134 page

Amber Tresca 42:32
You can follow me, Amber Tresca, across all social media as About IBD.

Thanks for listening, and remember, until next time, I want you to know more about IBD.

Amber Tresca 42:32

About IBD is a production of Mal and Tal Enterprises.

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

Mix and sound design is by Mac Cooney.

Theme music is from Cooney Studio

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