Being in a wedding party is a difficult time when you’re diagnosed young with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While it is an honor to be asked to participate, for me, it came with the challenges of being fitted for a dress while living with severe ulcerative colitis.
When I was in my early 20s, like many women, I was a frequent bridesmaid. In some cases, this meant being fitted for a dress that was picked out by the bride. All the women in the wedding party would order the same dress, in the proper size, and have it altered, if necessary.
We all have goals in life. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can sometimes get in the way. It’s not ideal, but that’s the reality.
However, the goal of treatment should be to get us back to doing what we love to do, and minimize the effects of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis on our lives. Our doctors also have goals for us. These goals might be different, but they’re all important in getting symptoms and inflammation minimized and living life on our terms again.
When I had surgery to remove my colon (which is called a colectomy) and place an ostomy, I knew exactly what was happening. I knew I would wake up with a loop ileostomy. It was the first step in 2-step j-pouch surgery to treat my ulcerative colitis.
My colon was falling apart, full of inflammation and pseudopolyps (non-cancerous polyps that can occur with IBD). I had a few months to prepare for surgery, including meeting with my surgeon and an enterostomal (ET) nurse. When I woke up with a stoma and an ostomy appliance, it was not a surprise.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects our quality of life. What that means, however, is going to be different for each person. It may depend on many factors including disease severity, access to care, and support structure.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis such as diarrhea can prevent people from taking part in activities that aren’t near a bathroom. Bleeding can cause anemia, leaving people feeling tired and unable to go about regular activities. Not to mention the effects on mental health, relationships, and finances.
Danielle Gulden, ulcerative patient, ileostomate, and co-founder of Double Baggin’ It and Dr Nana Bernasko, IBD Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Penn State Health, discuss how to manage the effects of IBD on everyday life.
One of the biggest hurdles in getting a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is first in understanding that the symptoms aren’t normal. They’re not from a virus or a parasitic infection — they go on for too long for it to be from those causes.
Once people understand that symptoms like ongoing diarrhea and bloody stools are not normal, they need a way to overcome embarrassment and talk their symptoms over with a health care provider. Having an open and honest conversation will help ensure a quicker diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and getting the right treatment.
On this episode, Rasheed Clarke, ulcerative colitis and j-pouch patient and author of Three Tablets Twice Daily and Dr Christina Ha, an IBDologist at the IBD Center at Cedars Sinai, provide support and guidance to patients with IBD symptoms, newly diagnosed patients, and anyone who is looking for a new way to speak with their health care providers about IBD treatments.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis) is being diagnosed in young people with greater frequency. Research on how to treat pediatric patients, and indeed how to prevent IBD in the first place, is still lacking. What’s not in short supply is the strength and resilience shown by pediatric IBD patients and their families. Meet Brooke, a pediatric patient at Connecticut Children’s Hospital who credits her dedicated IBD team with her ability to live a life filled with summer camp, dance, and tennis lessons, without the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
All of us who live with chronic illness know understand the difficulties of working in all the appointments and procedures. Even when doing OK, there’s a list to get through every year. Now with being over 40 years old, that list also continues to expand.
Telling your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis story is powerful. It can be freeing but it can also come with some unexpected side effects.
Welcome back Rosanne Mottola, who originally intended to talk over receiving her second dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine. She told her ulcerative colitis story and about receiving her first dose on Episode 87, “COVID-19 Vaccination With UC Patient Rosanne Mottola.” She gives her experience on her second dose, how it affected her, and what her family’s plans are now that she’s vaccinated.
Additionally, Rosanne had another part of her journey that she wanted to share. She listened to her first About IBD episode (something a lot of guests don’t actually do), as did her family. Reflecting on her ulcerative colitis journey brought things back in a fresh way. She tells me how revisiting some parts of her life in this way was both troubling and healing. It’s an important part of the disease journey, especially for those who tell their story publicly, that doesn’t often get discussed.
I remember looking down at my abdomen shortly after having the first of two surgeries to complete the j-pouch procedure for treating ulcerative colitis. It was open surgery, so I had a line of staples closing the surgical site that was about 8 inches long. I spent most of those first weeks with a pillow clutched against my abdomen because it felt like my guts were going to fall out. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever complete a simple sit-up again.
Yet, I did recover. I can do the things that seemed beyond reach in those first days and weeks, but it didn’t happen right away or without effort. As the country becomes vaccinated against COVID-19 and we consider next steps, I am reminded of that feeling of having no idea how I would ever be whole again. Restarting a face-to-face life is off in the distance: hazy to the point of being unrecognizable. I’m struck by the similarities between resuming life after surgery and resuming life after a pandemic. They happen slowly, with the individual steps being so small they are almost imperceptible.