A search of my computer shows that I’ve written on the topic of diarrhea several times already. It’s a recurring theme every few years, usually after a news event.
The latest circumstance, as I write this, is an incident that occurred on a flight between Atlanta and Barcelona in early September 2023. Reportedly, a passenger had diarrhea that was concerning enough to be considered a biohazard. According to CNN and other sources, the flight turned around after a few hours and went back to Atlanta. (CNN)
A few days ago, I was talking to an IBD friend and I said how weird it was for me to consider traveling.
“It feels like something other people do,” I said. “It’s not something that I get to do.”
It’s a mindset I’ve needed to overcome because traveling when I was younger and my ulcerative colitis was at its worst was a nightmare. Now I’ve had surgery to create a j-pouch and my disease is much better controlled.
There’s no reason I can’t go all the places and do all the things!
I still have to do some problem solving, though, so I thought I’d share some of the products I’ve found that made my life easier while bouncing around cities in the UK or heading up to Maine for a camping trip.
For some people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or indeterminate colitis), yearly healthcare costs are exorbitant. This is true for myself, as there are yearly tests, check ups, and medications that insurance doesn’t fully cover.
For this reason, I’ve been using the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program for many years. The FSA program is offered through an employer, similar to insurance plans. Every year, either as an individual or as a family, you decide on a dollar amount that will be automatically pulled from your paycheck and placed into a holding account.
Many inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients receive medication. Which drugs, in what dosage and their combination, is individualized.
Almost everyone would probably prefer to not take any medications at all. However, IBD is complicated to treat, and there is potential for serious complications with untreated Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Still, there are some patients who want to discontinue their IBD medications. And this might be a valid goal — if they can get into deep remission.
There’s one question that I’ve been asked many times, and it’s one that I also ask others when I conduct interviews:
“What advice would you give to people who are newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis?”
I see the importance of getting both new and veteran patients to give their experience with a new diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It might be fair to say that most people, in hindsight, whether this is weeks or decades later, can point out where their journey could have been improved.
What did you read over the past year? If you made a reading goal: did you hit it? The books I read this year ranged from self-help to true crime to science fiction. Hear more about some of the books I enjoyed in 2022 (and in the year after I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis) and if you’ll want to pick them up for yourself.
At the end of the year, we see the gift guides come out. There’s one for every type of person, usually focused on age and gender, but also based on hobbies or interests. Or, even, based on chronic illness such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
There’s no doubt, gift guides are helpful. For someone like me, who doesn’t go out shopping a lot, it’s useful to know what’s out there. Learning about the latest in cookware or video games can be helpful. To me, the funniest ones are the gift guides for teens or college students. Even I know they just want cash.
Having surgery for ulcerative colitis comes with a lot of unknowns. J-pouch surgery in particular causes worry, which is understandable. However, it’s important to know that most of the time, this surgery is successful and people go on to live well.
Having j-pouch surgery for me has meant I am able to do a lot of things that I could never have done with ulcerative colitis. That includes hiking, camping, and white water rafting. Part of these types of trips include time without running water or a flushing toilet. And a day out on a raft in the water means no bathroom access at all.
I realized that some people may think outdoor activities aren’t a reality after surgery. But they’re absolutely possible, as well as many more adventures. For that reason, I thought I’d lay out how I plan before going on outdoor activities.
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