This wonderful lady got in contact with me one day through this site after reading my guest post for Me and IBD.
I can’t tell you why, because I don’t know, but I instantly felt a connection with her. And not in a, oh we have the same kind of story, kind of connection, but one where I felt we could be good friends. Strange, considering we only briefly had small conversations via email but I immediately felt that I should keep in contact with her.
And Gabi, if you’re reading this and think “Sweet Jesus, what a weirdo, I do not feel the same way” I have clearly made a massive faux pas, but out of it, I have received a tremendous piece of work. One that I am honoured to have on my website.
“Steph’s blog was one of the first I stumbled upon the day I found out I would be having an ileostomy. I remember sitting on my bed, Cinderella on in the back ground, trawling through pages and pages of information trying to get my head around the fact I would be heading in to theatre for a life changing operation. Imagine Being Different provided me with hope. Seeing Steph pictured on a beach with faded scars, looking comfortable and confident enjoying a year abroad in Australia made me feel so much better about the impending surgery. That was nearly three months ago and today I enjoy writing my own blog and guest posting for others, about my life as a fashion student and intern with Crohn’s disease and a stoma.
Nearly six years ago, aged 16, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. I began having a few symptoms like diarrhoea, fatigue and stomach cramps about six months before my actual diagnosis. I remember thinking it was just a ‘nervous tummy’ as the symptoms kept coming and going, and I have always been a worrier. During this time I also came down with shingles so just assumed my body was a bit run down.
After my first trip to the Dr I was sent away, it was only after a second visit and a series of stool samples and blood tests that I was given a referral to my consultant. The waiting list was long and I was given a six week wait, meanwhile my symptoms were worsening and I was slowly becoming more unwell, without knowing what on earth was wrong. I would be going to the toilet up to 20 times a day and would be so run down and tired I would be stuck in bed or on the sofa. Words such as ‘celiac’ and ‘ibs’ were bounced around but despite being so un well, having to see consultants and visit hospitals, I never even considered that what was wrong may be serious.
In the end I was able to see my consultant a lot sooner than the initial 6 week time frame.
After an initial consultation and a colonoscopy I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, my consultant also explained that if I had waiting any longer to be seen, I would have been hospitalised. Even at this point it definitely didn’t hit me how unwell I was. Before my diagnosis I had never heard of Crohn’s Disease and had never met anybody with an IBD. Of course being a bit of a geek I went home and researched and read every bit of information I could get my hands on. I was put on various medications to try and get me into remission, including steroid treatment. Although the disease was bought under control, the steroids did have some nasty side effects. My face swelled up, I put on two and half stone due to an insane appetite, I would have night sweats, heart palpitations and my hair started to fall out in clumps.
Aged 16 this was all very hard to deal with, but at least I was feeling better! Over the next five years I went in and out of remission, going through every medication available. Each one would work for a short amount of time before the disease would return and I would be very un well and have to put my life on hold. Despite all of this I would often forget I had Crohn’s and got on with my life as normal. I would spent nine months out of the year symptom free so despite the daily medication routine, I could quite easily be a normal teenager. Despite missing about a term of each academic year I still managed to gain 13 GCSES and 3 A levels. I never let the fact I had Crohn’s stop me, or get in the way of what I wanted to do and achieve. The biggest breakthrough came when I was put on Humira injections, this self administered medication put me into remission for two solid, symptom free years which was amazing! Everybody would always comment on how amazingly I dealt with having the disease, how I never let it get me down or stop me in life. Looking back I realise that I just didn’t give it too much thought, in my head it was not a big deal. I was lucky that medication had always worked, so I assumed that this would continue. The full extent of what having an IBD meant had not hit me…”
Part two will be up next week. In the meantime, you can find Gabi at
@gabicox12 & www.giftofthegab1.blogspot.co.uk to follow her journey with Margaret