Telehealth has become part of our new normal as we practice physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the barriers that prevented us from being able to see our doctors for an appointment via a telephone call or a video call have now been managed. However, it’s still a new way to receive healthcare, and both patients and clinicians are adjusting. Learn from Neilanjan Nandi, MD, gastroenterologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania about what patients can do to be ready for their telehealth appointments and what it’s like from the doctor’s side of the video conference call.
The impact of human activities on the environment is well-documented. Many people are concerned about how their daily lives can have a negative effect on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of ourselves and of our children. My background is in environmental science: it began in high school when I worked to institute a recycling program in the lunchroom. I went on to earn my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Michigan State University.
While there’s nothing we can do about having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), there is something we can do about how it impacts our environment. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis need treatment over a lifetime and this comes with a variety of choices. Environmental responsibility may be pretty far down on the list of things most people with IBD are concerned about, but there are some simple choices we can make that can have an impact.
The place were we have a lot of control as patients is in our own home and in how we manage our disease (alongside our healthcare teams). A few little changes can make a positive impact in how your IBD affects the word around you. I present some areas where we can think about making choices in regards to our IBD that may help us leave a smaller footprint.
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.
In this moment of physical distancing in order to flatten the curve of people being exposed to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and developing the disease it causes, COVID-19, it may prove challenging to receive medication to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Certain medications that are given to manage Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are given by infusion. This is most often done at a doctor’s office, infusion center, or at a hospital.
People with IBD have questions about the safety of receiving infusions outside the home at this time. In addition, there have been reports of infusions centers closing for the indefinite future, leaving patients to find another location to receive their medication. All the major gastrointestinal organizations and IBD specialists are recommending that patients still receive their medication at this time. It’s currently thought that the focus should be on avoiding an interruption in care and running the risk of an IBD flare-up. This article will provide resources in order to help patients navigate the closing of an infusion center.
We’re living through an usual time and people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have many questions about how the pandemic may affect them. IBD experts agree that it’s important to continue receiving medications during this time to avoid a flare-up. That might mean traveling to an infusion center, hospital, or doctor’s office for treatment. Julie Kennedy of The Semicolon Girl recounts her experience in receiving her infusion of her Crohn’s disease medication in the era of COVID-19, including how the procedure was different, and gives her tips on how to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
The last thing my family did before going into quarantine at home was to go to the grocery store, of all places, to sell Girl Scout Cookies and fundraise for the Boy Scouts. We meet all kinds of people while fundraising at the grocery store, and this time was no different in that respect. However, there were some noticeable contrasts, as most people were keenly aware that we were facing changes to our everyday lives in response to the pandemic.
Ostomy surgery can improve quality of life for people with IBD but it is still not discussed often enough, or early enough, in the disease process. This leaves patients to cope with the surgery and the acceptance of an ostomy during a time when they are already critically ill. For Austin Powers, who goes by The Ostomy Guy, he exhausted all his possibilities to treat complications from Crohn’s disease before having surgery to place an ostomy. It was several more years before a quick encounter with another ostomate set him on the journey of acceptance. Today, Austin runs a podcast and has written a book about his experiences, The Ostomy Guy Story: Memoirs of a Bagman, which is available on Amazon. Listen all the way to end to hear one of the many letters Austin receives from his readers, who are inspired by his story.
Ostomy surgery is a life-saving procedure that can improve quality of life, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to accept. Stephanie Hughes founded The Stolen Colon after having surgery to place an ileostomy to treat her Crohn’s disease. She’s an ostomate, but she’s also a writer, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a resource for people in the IBD and the ostomy community. She shares her journey through Crohn’s disease and acceptance of her ostomy with me, including what her kids think of her stoma, how she manages issues around privacy, and what happened when a person who didn’t know she had an ileostomy told her that ostomies were smelly. Listen all the way to the end to hear how Stephanie’s advocacy in the ostomy community touched one family and gave them hope.
People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or indeterminate colitis) are understandably concerned about the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, spreading in their community. People who have certain medical conditions and/or are receiving immunosuppressive medications may be at a greater risk of complications for COVID-19. There are some guidelines put out specifically for people with IBD that can help in making decisions during this time. On this page you will find trusted and verifiable resources that help you as you make choices regarding travel, medications, and everyday life during the pandemic.