I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 18 years old. I was a college freshman.
There would be times when I would be going to certain events or things, I’d be going maybe bowling with my friends, or we’d go out to eat and I would have this onset of abdominal pain and I’d have to sit down and take a deep breath and it was, you know, they would look at me like, “What’s the matter with you?” And you didn’t share that with everybody. I mean, it wasn’t…it wasn’t public knowledge. So yes, to the outside person I looked completely normal. But definitely inside, I wasn’t. So I think that it was…there was a lot of stress there, in trying to manage it and figure out how I was going to be the most normal college student that I possibly could be.
For me, being a college student living with the Crohn’s disease was really stressful and difficult, but I had set my mind to the fact that I wasn’t going to let the disease beat me. So I decided that I was going to graduate on time, I was going to graduate in four years. I had stayed in school and was able to graduate in four years with honors.
Being diagnosed in college was difficult because it was a pivotal time in my life where I wanted to be a normal college student. I wanted to attend parties and go to other functions, you know, as a normal person, not with an illness that, you know, people can’t see. Day to day was different. Every single day was different than the day before. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had good days and bad days, so some days I would feel good and some days I wouldn’t. So it was definitely a test of my perseverance to get through it and to be strong and I just developed a really positive mindset that I had to push through this disease in order to get through these four years of college.
So the best advice that I could give to others living with IBD would be to be proactive and own your own health, because you only have one body and you’re responsible for your own health and so to be in with a good doctor and developing a treatment plan and being proactive is really the best advice I think I can give.
It’s really important to be proactive in managing your Crohn’s disease or any other illness for that matter because it’s your body, you get one body and you have to be responsible for your own health.
I’d gone through a lot of different gastroenterologists before I found the right one. And I finally have a great doctor who has developed a wonderful treatment plan together with me. And I trust him and we have an open lines of, you know, communication between us. And that has really helped me manage my disease as…as best as I can.
So now I live successfully with Crohn’s disease by having a really solid disease management plan in place. I found a treatment that works for me and I’ve been in remission for the last 8 years because of it.
The support system that I have in place has been incredibly helpful in managing my…my illness, ever since I was diagnosed with it, when I was 18. Certainly friends and family have been incredibly important throughout the entire time that I’ve had the illness. And putting a comprehensive plan in place is really what has allowed me today to feel wonderful. And that plan involves a strong network of support, which includes my family and friends, a doctor that I have open communication with, and diet and nutrition that — I’m self-aware. And I’m really owning my health. And that has made all the difference in the world.