Finding Passion Through IBD: Gaby's Ulcerative Colitis Story
In the summer of 2017 I started experiencing bloody stool/mucous and knew that something wasn't normal. It took 3 months to get an appointment with a GI and when I finally got scoped in September my scans revealed "minor inflammation" and confirmed a UC diagnosis. That doc started me on an oral and rectal mesalamine medication to control the flare I was in. I started to feel better and he took me off the rectal medication and my symptoms came back. That December (2017) the blood came back in my stool and he put me on prednisone (the devil drug) and I had had enough because it felt like he was just giving me a bandaid for my problem. I found a new GI in 2018 and she adjusted my care plan and explained everything and was extremely patient! 2 months later (late April 2018) my symptoms got so bad that she ended up hospitalizing me and took new scans that showed my disease had spread. Then, I started Infliximab (Remicade) in May 2018 and after the base doses got my infusions every 6 weeks. During that first 6 week span, I flared again and ended up back in the hospital (July/August 2018) since it was too difficult to control otherwise. I readjusted my medication regimen to get Remicade every 4 weeks and that's been working for the most part. A few months ago (early 2019) I started to have more blood in my stool again, this time with no pain (just literally an inconvenience haha). We did a flex sigmoidoscopy that revealed rectal inflammation so now I'm on a compounded suppository (a mix of mesalamine and uceris) in conjunction with Remicade, that has worked wonders!!! It's not supposed to be a long-term solution so I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I'm weaned off the suppository, but I am extremely confident in my doctor and I know she'll figure something out!
Accepting Her Diagnosis
I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and after my first hospitalization last year I've really started to embody that. I realize how much UC has given me -- it led me to a complete career change and I honestly don't know if I would've gotten here if it weren't for that. My hospitalization also helped me realize how IBD would impact my life on a daily basis and I think realizing that has helped me fully comprehend what an autoimmune disease is.
How IBD Has POSITIVELY Impacted Her Life:
I touched on this a little bit above, but IBD has helped me find my passion for healthcare. I quit my corporate job almost a year ago and am now working as a Trauma Tech at my dream job and am planning to go to PA school! I believe I have IBD to thank for that!! IBD has also helped me find my niche because I feel like I've almost unintentionally at first started advocating for invisible illnesses on social media. I've now had countless people come up to me asking for advice, comfort, or wanting to learn about my story to share with others. It's a pretty amazing feeling to be able to touch so many lives of people I don't even know!
Hardest Part of Having An Invisible Disease:
The unpredictability of whether my stomach will hurt today and if so, is it an IBD stomachache or is it another type of stomachache I need to worry about? (e.g. menstrual cramps, generic upset stomach, too many veggies, a potential stomach bug, etc.)
Tati’s Top 3 Tips For Women Living With IBD:
Don't be afraid to share your story! Whether that's with family, friends or on a blog. You never know who you could reach with your story and the impact it'll have on others!
Listen to your body! If your body says workout, do it. If it says sleep in, do it. If it says eat all the veggies, eat ‘em. If it says have a lazy day watching tv, find a good show and cuddle up!
Don't let IBD run your life. I think there can be a misconception that having IBD or an autoimmune disease can take things from you and while I'm sure that can be true, there's so much you can still gain from it! Focus on that.
Gaby’s Favorite Mantra/Quote To Get Her Through the Hard Times:
“You weren't given anything you can't handle”
“Everything happens for a reason!”
“Fall down 7 times, get up 8”