Welcome to ‘Chronically Strong’

Welcome to ‘Chronically Strong’

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my column, “Chronically Strong.” My name is Shawntel Bethea and I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 17.

After my diagnosis, I really struggled with life with IBD. I didn’t know anyone who had the condition, and I lived in constant fear of being judged or embarrassed. I never achieved remission and for years only took steroids to suppress my immune system. In 2013, after a bad infection (accompanied by a same-day surgery), I decided I wanted more for myself. I spent the next year and a half working with a new physician trying to achieve remission, or at least find some relief from such a life-consuming condition.

Unfortunately, as time passed, my condition only began to worsen and symptoms never subsided. Trips to the emergency room were routine by this point – some nurses even knew me by name. I’d tried just about every treatment option there was, including different diets. I even stopped eating meat. My doctor prescribed pills, injections, and infusions, all of which eventually failed. After each failure, I became more and more depressed. I began to think my life would never get better.

At the end of 2014, I had my colon removed and lived with a temporary ostomy. In mid-2015, I had my ostomy reversed and experienced an entirely new life with a J-pouch. I am now 25. I still have issues, complications, and extraintestinal manifestations of my own, but I feel miles farther and leagues better than the place I was at. I’ve found strength in my story and now use it to help others who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease. I also share my life on my blog MoreSpoons.com.

So, that’s my story! It’s by no means pretty. It definitely was not easy, but by going through it I am now a better and stronger person. I am Chronically Strong.

With this column, I hope my readers feel empowered – empowered to share your stories and empowered to embrace life with a difficult condition by knowing you are not alone. I want IBD patients to know that our condition is important, too. It’s life-consuming and hard.

When visiting “Chronically Strong,” I hope you find these articles relatable and helpful to your life and in dealing with your condition one way or another. I’m excited to build a relationship with each one of my readers!

We need a cure. But until then, we are strong.

4 comments

  1. Lynn Clark says:

    I love the term “Chronically Strong”. It signifies what it takes to have IBD because when you have severe IBD that is what it takes to get through life. My story is very
    much like yours. Unfortunately my j-pouch constantly gave me the same complications as you mentioned and I was constantly taking antibiotics. After 10 years of this my Dr’s and I decided it was better for my health to have a permanent ileostomy. I have a much better quality of life though I have high outputs and require a very LIMITED diet as I am prone to blockages. Strictures and adhesions from too many open surgeries. Life is never dull and it is very challenging when dealing with IBD. But I like to think I am a stronger person and have more empathy for people because of my chronic struggles with IBD.

    • Thanks for reading Lynn! Yes I don’t like the term “chronically ill,” it’s depressing right? We are strong! I’m sorry to hear about all of your troubles with your pouch but I am so glad you’ve found a better quality of life now. I liked having an ileostomy for the most part, it is sooo much better than dealing with my colon! 🙂 What kind of diet are you on?

  2. Saidee Wynn says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad to hear that you have had some improvements in your condition. I look forward to reading more of your works!

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