Day 2: Introductions

Day 2 of Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge calls for some introductions! I am Marisa, I live in NY and I have suffered from ulcerative colitis since I was 13 years old. I am a huge animal lover and have two rescue dogs that I seriously cannot look at without thinking of the quote from the Rolling Stones

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you might find
You get what you need”

Both of these girls are polar opposites, yet I truly don’t know how I would have gotten through the past two years if they weren’t in my life. I developed PTSD from all that I have been through and Holli (black) has seriously been my therapy dog since I got her -which will be two years on Saturday! Phoebe (yellow) came into my life after being fostered in North Carolina, at a time when my whole world was crashing. This little girl is so full of life, finding the joy in every butterfly. I love dogs because they represent everything I wish my life was – simple.

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Eating, sleeping, playing and love is what their days are filled with. Mine, however, are a lot more complicated.

Five things I want people to know about my health condition:

1)      Inflammatory bowel disease (crohns disease and ulcerative colitis) is NOT caused by stress and has nothing to do with what a person chooses to eat. Stress and certain foods can certainly aggravate the condition once a person has one of these diseases but they cannot and will not ever be the reason an individual is diagnosed with a form of IBD.

2)      Crohns Disease and ulcerative colitis tend to be embarrassing illnesses which often makes it difficult for patients to share what their body and minds are dealing with. So when a person suffers from a form of IBD, they are not only suffering physically, they are most likely dealing with an enormous amount of emotional pain as well. IBD causes a person to lose control of their body. REALLY AND TRULY THINK ABOUT WHAT THAT IS LIKE FOR SOMEONE TO DEAL WITH.

3)      The medications that are given for those of us who suffer from IBD are awful and come with devastating side effects. There is also no “one size fits all” way to treat a patient with crohns disease or ulcerative colitis making treatment extremely difficult and quite frustrating. There is a tremendous amount of trial and error, lots of decisions, an enormous amount of mental anguish and a lot of understanding that needs to come into play by the loved ones of IBD patients. People who have severe IBD often have at least one surgery in their life. Surgery is life altering. It is messy. It is extremely painful. It isn’t an easy decision, and often times these happen on an emergency basis. Patients wake up without any warning with permanent ostomies! Imagine that.

4)      IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disorder) are NOT the same thing and are not even in the same world.

5)      IBD causes other issues aside from ones that are related to the bathroom or a person’s digestive track. It is an auto immune disease so once a person has one, they become more susceptible to developing other illnesses.