Lauren was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2018. Here she talks about her experience with the condition for the first time. While she’s still searching for a magical medicine to make her feel better, she has found the community to be a lifeline in getting her through the ups and downs of living with a chronic condition.
First off, I’m from Canada, so things may be a bit different depending on where you are in the world. This is also my first attempt at talking about my chronic illness in a public space. I’m not ready to go into detail about my journey ulcerative colitis, but just know it has been a long and testing road. During my worst days I was on so many medications I cannot even remember how many I was taking. So here is my story…
You wouldn’t believe me if I said, in this photo I was experiencing severe symptoms for the first time. I tried to hide my symptoms for as long as I could. Mostly out of fear. It may not look like it, especially since I was on vacation, but I was going through a really difficult time when this picture was taken.
When I was diagnosed, I was in a college post-grad program. I made it through the first term but had to drop out during the second term. The school was extremely unaccommodating. I feel that is in part because there is a lack of awareness and knowledge about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Ultimately, it was the best decision to put my health first instead of trying to painfully make it through the school year.
In this photo I had just started meeting with my specialist and my symptoms were stating to get worse. I was lucky that I was able to get into an outpatient clinic and receive care as quickly as I did.
I’ve tried a wide variety of medications but none of them seem to work. I had luck for about half a year with Vedolizumab (Entivyo), an intravenous biologic. When that failed, I planned to start another study drug but unfortunately, I landed in the hospital instead. I’ve recently started on Infliximab (Remicade). At the start I was very against going onto this particular medication, along with Prednisone and Methotrexate and 5-aminosalicylic acid (salofalk).
Here I am receiving my biologic medication. As someone who hates needles, I have learned to get used to them pretty quickly!
Seeing the supportive community on Instagram has made me realize, if it does come down to having a surgery to help me cope with Inflammatory Bowel Disease it’s not the be all end all.
I want to take this opportunity to recognize my wonderful family doctor, specialist, and all my nurses that have helped me in the past two years! I also want to apologize for my terrible veins that don’t seem to want a needle in them.
It’s too bad that there is not one magical drug or a cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease right now, but two lessons I’ve learnt that I want to pass onto anyone with IBD reading this:
- There are options out there and don’t get discouraged if one doesn’t work out!
- It’s so important to speak up to your doctor if you feel something is wrong, they are there to help!
Hopefully I can take my own advice into this year!
Follow Lauren on instagram here: @lfrancee