My IBD story begins back in 1999 when my mother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I was two and a half. Growing up I remember seeing her unwell at multiple points in my life but always putting others first and carrying on no matter what, her strength was incredible.
From about the age of 12 I began having a ‘dodgy stomach’ . I tried removing certain foods and had many tests done due to my family history but was always told it was just IBS. In November 2020 just as I was beginning my first marketing job after my Masters I knew my symptoms were no longer just IBS.
I started to see blood in the toilet, my weight was dropping and I was doubled over in pain. Thankfully I was seen quite quickly due to my family history and on December 8th 2020 my colonoscopy revealed indeterminate IBD, a lesser known IBD diagnosis but one that is given when it can’t be determined if the person has Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. I remember feeling like my whole world was crashing down around me and I emerged from the day unit and burst into tears barely able to stay standing. I still remember all the poor people sitting there waiting to go in for their scopes just looking at me with fear in their eyes. I was started on Pentasa granules and budesonide and shortly after began imuran. This was unsuccessful and I started Amgevita, a biosimilar of Humira.
I quickly fell into the routine of injecting and was feeling somewhat better. In March 2022 I was dealt a further blow when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This was a total shock and meant I had to come off my Amgevita and find a new treatment which was to be Entyvio. My MS diagnosis has complicated my treatment options and of course, means I now juggle the symptoms of two chronic illnesses side by side.
I really struggle with the unpredictable nature of chronic illness as well as slowing down and listening to my body. Taking time to just be and do nothing made me feel unproductive and lazy but I’ve had to learn to listen when my body needs rest and that it’s ok to say no and cancel plans. You have to put yourself and your health first.
I talk openly about both my conditions to anyone who will listen! If I can help one other person who has been diagnosed or educate someone on what my conditions are then I’m happy. Talking about it helps me to come to terms with what I’m going through and I feel less alone when I talk to others going through similar things. The motto I live by, so much so that I got it tattooed on me, is ‘it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger’ and I promise myself to continue to get stronger, face whatever life throws at me and live my life as best I can.