At the age of 11, I started to have stomach pains and other symptoms—going to the bathroom five or more times a day and serious fatigue—that could be related to inflammatory bowel disease.
My parents took me to a gastroenterologist and I went through a variety of tests. Not long after that, I was told I had Crohn’s disease.
Things began to get much worse my freshman year of college.
Knowing that I had a disease changed my life completely. I have always had a positive personality, and that has helped me to learn how to deal with adversity and fight to still be able to do the things I love.
Since that freshman year of college, I’ve had more than 35 surgeries. But I’ve still battled to try and live a normal life. Or what I like to call my new normal.
Living with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy can lead to a wild roller coaster ride and every day can be different.
I’ve learned to always take a deep breath when something goes wrong, evaluate the situation, then tackle the task at hand. Sometimes this could involve changing my ostomy when there’s a leak, battling fatigue, or just making sure I eat enough to keep from losing too much weight.
There are so many lessons I’d pass on to others with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
First, you aren’t alone. There are many other patients just like you who make up an amazing community.
And friends and family can be incredible, if you open up with them and are comfortable with your disease. You’ll be amazed at how supportive they can be.
Finally, don’t ever give up living a normal life. With the right planning and preparation, there's so much we can do when we’re not flaring.
You may have to take small steps, but don’t stop going after your goals.