For this first episode of my limited series, Summer of Activism, I’m answering a question that I hear regularly: how it is that I go to medical meetings such as Digestive Disease Week, Advances in IBD, or Crohn’s and Colitis Congress. I give you the answer as well as tips on how patients, bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers can work towards attending these, and other, scientific meetings. Here’s a spoiler: it takes dedication to improving the lives of people with IBD, commitment to doing the work consistently, and some professional networking.
Does having IBD make you feel like a princess? Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not only painful, serious conditions, but they also carry stigma which leads to patients feeling isolated. Sophia Vicari, the founder of The Princess Promise, is creating a community that challenges the perception society has about digestive disease. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis while in college, it didn’t take long before Sophia decided she needed to work to help others in the IBD community become more comfortable talking about poop. Hear Sophia’s disease journey, what it was like for her to be Miss Camden County, NJ, while living with ulcerative colitis, and how she plans to help women with IBD find their inner princess.
Every person that lives with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis in the United States knows the challenges of dealing with health insurance companies. Denials of service are common, particularly when diagnostic tests are ordered or when a new drug is prescribed. A change in insurance carrier, which can come after a life event (such as getting married or changing jobs) or at the start of the calendar year is another time when patients may find themselves in the appeal process in order to get needed tests or medication. For Jaime Holland, a life change, an insurance change, a calendar year change, and a change in gastroenterologist culminated in her being in danger of not receiving her biologic medication on time. Hear Jaime tell the story of how the problem started, why she had to look to someone outside her physicians office and her insurance carrier to get it solved, and her tips to help you avoid similar insurance snafus. This episode is perfect not only for anyone living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) but also anyone who cares for those living with these diseases.
This year I attended the annual “Day on the Hill” with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (the Foundation) in Washington, DC. It’s a two-day advocacy event where people who have been touched by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), either as patients, caregivers, or healthcare professionals, meet with legislators and/or their staff.
That’s the postcard version: but let’s break this down so it makes more sense.
Many young people who are undergoing ileostomy surgery to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have never met another younger person with an ostomy. Gaylyn Henderson, founder of Gutless and Glamorous, wants to make sure that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) don’t experience the uncertainty and stigma that she encountered before her ostomy surgery. In between running a successful foundation and a support group for people with chronic illness, Gaylyn has also become a spokeswoman for people with an ostomy, proving that her ileostomy is not a barrier to success.
People who live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis experience stigma because of their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The taboo topic of bowel disease can permeate all aspects of a person’s life, especially when there are cultural influences also at play. Tina Aswani Omprakash, who lives with Crohn’s disease and a permanent ileostomy, shares her story of personal empowerment and how she is working to help other people with IBD live their lives with confidence. Tina describes how IBD has profoundly affected her family as well as why she decided to become an outspoken advocate for the IBD and ostomy communities and start her blog, Own Your Crohn’s.
It’s common for people with IBD to look online for patients who have a similar disease journey to their own. For men, however, there are fewer places to find such a peer because there are not as many men in the IBD influencer space as there are women. That’s where Rasheed Clarke, author of Three Tablets Twice Daily, blogger, and ulcerative colitis and j-pouch patient steps in. Hear Rasheed contrast how his running career is different before and after j-pouch surgery, his thoughts on being one of the few male voices in the online IBD community, how we can encourage more men to share their journey, and the wild and wonderful thing he did with a toilet for World IBD Day in 2017.
An elevator speech or elevator pitch is a quick summary of a topic that can be given in about under a minute: just enough time to take an elevator ride. It’s usually thought of in a business sense, like a sales pitch or an idea you have that you present to someone in management upon a chance meeting (such as in the elevator). The use has been expanded to mean any prepared and rehearsed speech that you can give quickly on a moment’s notice. The purpose of this article is to guide you on crafting your elevator speech about your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
As people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it is important that we share our stories. We need to share in order to bring awareness of our disease amongst the public but also to other people who live with the disease. IBD is isolating but there is a thriving community that’s willing to share information and support in order to prevent anyone from feeling alone in their disease.
However. I have concerns.
A diagnosis of IBD can take away the thing that you feel defines you as a person. This is how it felt for Megan Starshak of The Great Bowel Movement, who describes how her ulcerative colitis diagnosis at age 18 stole her passion for running. The process of losing and then regaining her identity as a runner fueled her desire to help people live well with a diagnosis of IBD. Her foundation seeks to educate those outside the IBD community through the use of a simple conversation prompt: Ask Me About My IBD.