Our Story With Crohn’s and Colitis

 

The theme for this site is that you must Rise above the Occasion. A societal theme is that you must Live in the Moment, we disagree when you are speaking to someone with a chronic condition that has good days and bad days; you need to be able to focus on the future and that the pain, discomfort or frustration is just one moment to overcome and surpass, you must look beyond it, and remind yourself that it is the now, but not your forever or future.

 

My sister and I are twins that were diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s in our mid 20’s. Prior to IBD, neither of us had any serious medical issues. We were multiple varsity sport athletes in high school and finished high school and college top of our class. We  lived a joyful life with very little worries other than the pressure we put on ourselves to excel as students, athletes and friends. We didn’t know anyone that had IBD and were unaware of these diseases.

 

I was diagnosed in 1999 after a wonderful summer in Big Sky, MT before starting my Masters Degree at the University of Florida. Jill was diagnosed a number of years later. The diagnosis was a surprise, but mentally I thought of it more like a virus, and assumed I would take some pills and it would go away. It was a rude awakening when I realized that the condition was chronic and there was no confirmed Cure. I still assumed the drug therapy regiment my GI put me on would Cure me, and stop the Urgency, Bleeding and other symptoms I was suffering. After many years of coping and living with the disease and a variety of drug therapies, experimental therapies, my path led to a hospital stay and an emergency colectomy.

 

Please note, throughout those 5 years, I graduated with my Masters, had a wonderful personal relationship and a very successful career. This disease, at the time diagnosed as indeterminate ulcerative colitis, did not keep me from making goals and reaching them. Life was not as easy as I had hoped. I couldn’t relate to the storybook like TV episodes I would watch on the television, since Life was challenging and kept throwing up speed bumps and challenges that I had to overcome, but I still accomplished everything I wanted to.

 

In the last 5 years, I have seen physicians all over the country, had more than 20 surgeries and been on new drug therapies that have made a significant and positive impact on my life. My story is not to scare you, but it is to remind you to enjoy the good days, take advantage of the moments you feel strong and rested and live the life you deserve and want for yourself.

 

Jill’s story is filled with many of the highs and lows of mine, but she is a wonderful example of living with IBD and having a beautiful family and the ability to be a loving mother, wife and friend. Drug therapies and surgeries have marked her decade long fight to Cure herself of this disease, but remission still alludes her. She is a mother, but also has a successful and gratifying career.  She exemplifies the importance of being able to compartmentalize your life – focus on your own well being, your child, your family, and your career. She manages to do all of those things well, while still being in pain and discomfort on a daily basis.  She is a constant reminder to me that we have the ability to accomplish great things and not only love others, but cherish the moments that we are given in life to positively impact others.

 

The purpose of this site and our mission is to give people hope, and whatever guidance our 15 year battle with these diseases can enable us to give to other people, their families and the community that are impacted by these terrible diseases. We hope we give people a Fresh and Positive view point on life with IBD, and we want to positively impact the IBD community, as well as create awareness to the general public about Crohn’s and Colitis. We are firm believers in the importance of having a strong forward thinking physician in your life that treats a high volume of IBD patients. We believe in the new drug therapies and the importance of Biologics and other autoimmune suppressant drug therapies, as well as the importance of understanding when Surgery might be appropriate. There is also a strong theme within both of our histories for the importance of holistic therapy, as well as decreased stress factors in a person’s daily life.

 

We look forward to the dialogue this site will cause, as well as our mission to positively impact the lives of all patients suffering from IBD.

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