My name is Tina, and my struggle with Crohn’s disease began over 12 years ago when I was 22. I am from the New York City area, and my background is in legal and compliance for investment banking. My battle with this beast of a disease rendered me unable to work. I have been nonetheless actively involved with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation as one of the leaders of the NYC Women’s IBD Support Group, through which I help to educate and advocate for women like myself who are struggling with the most debilitating aspects of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
My struggle with Crohn’s derailed my career, my prospects for further education, many of my friendships, my sense of self, and my personality in my early 20s when my life was supposed to just be beginning. I had over 20 surgeries in seven years along with hundreds of procedures and imaging studies since my diagnosis. I’ve dealt with Crohn’s colitis, proctitis, several fistulae, abscesses, and cysts over the years in addition to multiple extraintestinal manifestations and diagnoses.
My life is now a perpetual case of living between doctor appointments and volunteering in between health crises. In addition to the Crohn’s and my permanent ileostomy, I manage a long laundry list of other health issues, including post-surgical irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), pelvic floor dysfunction, vestibular migraines, vertigo, inflammatory arthritis, sacroiliitis, allergies, sinusitis, asthma, pyoderma gangrenosum, hidradenitis suppurativa, erythema nodosum, Sweet’s syndrome, sciatica, peritoneal inclusion cysts, and autoimmune dry eye. And let’s not forget anxiety and depression, which are huge components of living with the uncertainty surrounding chronic illness.
Nevertheless, after three near-death experiences, I am thankful to be alive, and for every single surgery and every single breath. I am ever grateful for my ostomy, which has given me a new lease on life. With the help of my faith, my family, and the friends who stuck around, I have managed to pick myself up higher than ever before despite all the setbacks. One of the things I’ve worked incessantly to improve in this process has been my self-image, self-worth, and self-respect coming out of surgeries that ravaged my being, yet gave me life again.
Now I’m at a point where I am embarking on writing columns to empower patients like myself who struggle to find their voice and personality in the midst of this disease’s chaos. I aim to write about a wide gamut of topics as they relate to IBD, including experiences I’ve faced on my roller coaster ride with Crohn’s. The theme I hope to embed in my columns is for us all to realize that we can lead full and happy lives while living within the constraints of diseases and disabilities.
I hope you will join me in cherishing and in celebrating the very precious lives that we have in spite of being ill. I welcome you all to “Own your Crohn’s.” Own your IBD. Own everything that might not fit societal norms and give it a voice. Because what knocks us down can make us stronger, fiercer, and more united if we let it.
I look forward to writing and sharing my experiences with you all. Cheers to a future filled with good health and greater awareness of our conditions!
Follow my columns and my story on my new Facebook blog page.
Love, light, and peace always.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.
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