Good morning! Today I’m sharing Ashara Keyes story – living with Crohn’s Disease.
You will heal. I will help.
This is my best attempt towards putting together a complete list of common digestive conditions to help with your research.
Last Friday, I was tagged on Instagram in this egg photo. The caption read as such:
I had never “met” Abby before that moment, but in that moment, I remembered all the reasons I spent countless hours researching and putting together The Gutsy Girl’s Bible: an approach to healing the gut, 2.0.
Not for me, for you…..and if it has helped just one person, then my mission has been accomplished.
I reached out to Abby because I wanted to know more about her, and then I asked if she wanted to tell her own Gutsy story here.
It’s freshman year of college and out of nowhere you get a really bad stomach bug. Mom and Dad aren’t there to take care of you anymore so what do you do now? Like any college student you go to the store buy some medicine and Gatorade and let it pass because it was probably just the gross cafeteria food you eat three times a day. Or so that’s what I thought when this happened to me during my first semester in college. The only problem was that this stomach “bug” wouldn’t just pass, it would get worse.
(SKH Side Note: The EXACT same thing happened to me, my freshman year of college.)
I eventually went to numerous doctors and had every test done known to man, yet the doctors still couldn’t figure out what this “bug” was. It was a stomach flu turned to e-coli and finally with the results of a colonoscopy I was diagnosed with indeterminate Crohn’s/Colitis. I had never heard of this disease in my life and had no family history of it whatsoever. At 18 years old hearing this news was a complete shock, and there were times I would break down and wonder why me?
I became very health conscious about what I ate, and read every book I could about naturally healing. Unfortunately, I was not conscious enough and college life got the best of me again because soon I was having feelings of this “bug” again. Fall break came, and I was now in a full blown flare up in so much pain that I spent Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) curled up on the couch all day long. My parents took care of me throughout the holidays but it finally came to a point they no longer knew what to do and drove me to the hospital where I spent two weeks recovering. After my trip to the hospital I was reluctantly put on Humira. Since then I have been adamant about finding what works with my body to heal naturally, and that’s when I ran into A Gutsy Girl’s blog online. Finding this was like an answer to prayer because it was exactly what I had been searching for! Sarah’s blog and the Gutsy Girl’s Bible opened my eyes to so much information about living a healthy lifestyle with Crohn’s/Colitis. At first I intended to follow the 21 day gut healing just so I could have a good colonoscopy result (which I did!), but now I plan to follow this lifestyle of naturally healing my gut so I can find what works best for me and my body. I am currently adding back in foods and can now eat one of my favorite foods, an egg, with no problems!
This disease is not a weakness but a strength that can be used as an inspiration just as Sarah has been to me and to so many others going through similar gut issues. She is truly a “Gutsy Girl” and I hope to inspire others one day just as much as she has by healing myself with good food and strong faith.
LOVE YOUR GUTS, Abby 🙂
Love your guts,
We can argue about individual photos on that page all we want
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The “Why I am a Gutsy Girl” feature aims to highlight gutsy girls of all kinds, shapes, sizes and from various backgrounds with different stories.
If you have IBS or IBD, you have a story. If you are a caregiver (like the gutsy feature today), you have a story. If you have a gutsy child, you have a story. If your digestive system rocks….well, you still have your own gutsy story! If you are a woman and have a gutsy story, contact me for the chance to be featured!
Here’s Rebecca’s story….
I am a wife, dog mom, full-time public relations professional and full-time caregiver.
In 2007, just a few weeks after we began dating, my husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I remember the day that he was diagnosed clearly. My mom had just begun chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I drove up to be with my husband after his colonoscopy. I arrived at his house, stuffed animal in tow, to find him in the bathtub, soaking after the procedure. I sat in the bathroom with him to keep him company and make sure he didn’t fall asleep in the tub.
That was it for me. I don’t know what clicked, but I knew in that moment that I loved him and was going to be with him the rest of my life. Two years later, he and I got married with Crohn’s in tow.
I didn’t know much about Crohn’s Disease when we were married. But I’ve made it my mission to understand the disease and everything he experiences. I go to all his doctors’ appointments with him and ask an incessant amount of questions. I research medications, procedures and symptoms online until I am satisfied with what I find (or am freaked out by what I read). However, no amount of research or information can prepare you for the difficulties of being a caregiver.
Ten months after we were married, my husband was hospitalized for the first time. He had gone to have a colonoscopy with his new doctor after not having one for several years. I greeted him in the recovery room after the procedure and waited as he rolled side to side trying to release air. After a bit he felt better and got dressed. However, within minutes we knew something was wrong. He was very lightheaded and nauseous. We told the nurse that something was wrong and we couldn’t leave, but she kept insisting that he was fine and it was normal what he was feeling.
We sat him back down and the nurse realized quickly that he had spiked a 104 fever and everything was not okay. After a few days in the hospital, his doctor realized that when she pushed the scope through the severe stricture in his intestines, she must have micro perforated (made a tiny hole) his intestines, causing E. Coli to get into his bloodstream. It was during this hospital stay when I realized that if I wanted my husband to get the best treatment possible, it was up to me.
Since that hospital stay, my husband has been hospitalized twice – once for a blockage and then a month afterwards for a bowel resection. During each stay, I made sure I understood everything going on so that I could ensure he was getting the best care possible.
When he had the blockage, I insisted that the emergency room doctor consulted with his gastroenterologist before deciding anything regarding his treatment. I nudged the nurses when he was in pain for more pain medication. I brought him things to read and play with to distract him in the hospital. I also managed to convince the hospital to let me bring our dog in to visit him while he was admitted.
Afterwards, when we found out he needed surgery, I found myself making lists to prepare for the surgery- questions about the procedure and recovery, medications, physical limitations after surgery, and anything else that came to mind. I went to all pre-op appointments with him to ensure that, even if he wasn’t asking questions, I was getting all of the information.
Surgery day came and I felt prepared (or as prepared as you can feel prior to your loved one having surgery). He went into the procedure and came out with flying colors. The resection went well and while he had a long recovery ahead of him, we were prepared. Even though I had started a new job several months prior, they let me cut my hours in half for two weeks and work from home/hospital the entire time so I could help with his recovery.
He stayed in the hospital for five days and I was there by his side the entire time. I made sure he had his medication, found nurses when the narcotics were making him feel sick, made him get out of bed to move around even though he didn’t want to, encouraged him to eat small amounts throughout the day, and helped him to shower. I bought him silly hospital pants and a stuffed animal replica of our dog to cheer him up.
When he was finally released from the hospital, I brought him home to a clean apartment (thanks to my mom) fully stocked with easily digestible foods. I cooked him whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it. I slept on an air mattress next to our bed for six weeks as to not hurt his belly when I rolled in my sleep. I set alarms throughout the night so I could wake him to take his medications. I made him go for short daily walks to build up his stamina. I drove him to all his doctors’ appointments and to his graduate school to change his class schedule. Basically, I did everything in my power to ensure that he was able to heal without having to worry about how things were going to be accomplished.
Almost two years after his surgery, my husband is doing wonderfully. He is weighing almost 140 pounds for the first time in his life, has no diet restrictions, and is having little problems with his Crohn’s. It’s been a long journey getting to this point but it was totally worth it.
I am a Gutsy Girl because I am not afraid to do whatever it takes to take care of my husband.
Rebecca’s blog, Caring for Crohns, chronicling her journey as a caregiver for someone with a chronic illness. You can also follow her on Twitter @CaringforCrohns or like her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/caringforcrohnsuc.
Love your guts,
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Keep seeking new wisdom and mastering new skills – particularly those that help you live a more satisfying life. Continual learning and discovery help support both health and happiness.
Day 82 of 101 days of blogging. 20 days from now and we will be moving forward from this series!
13 Going on Crazy was conceived on the notion that I was looking for a challenge. And in the battle of marathon, half marathon that is, I found it. I signed on for a deranged assignment:
13 half marathons
One girl, a pair of Asics running shoes and a garmin 405 CX.
Most runners want to improve their running pace. I agree that this is a goal of mine as well, to improve my pace. I, however, have been struggling with this as my GI and health issues have greatly impacted my training this year. I have struggled with being ashamed and embarrassed of my GI issues for years, and as a runner I now struggle with being ashamed of my pace.
I understand that yes, I am at least out there hitting the pavement. While all that might be true, I greatly want to embrace and unleash my inner gazelle and be one of those “fast runners.” I am learning to accept my GI issues for what they are, and with time I know that my stomach will settle itself down. I am taking all the proper courses of action toward the road of recovery, which will help my pace tremendously.
I have changed my diet completely. I think that I am allowed to eat 12 items. I am not joking. I have been keeping a food journal for over three months and have been able to stick to my dietary plan.
Previously, I have completed a half marathon in less than 2 hours and 40 minutes, and I know that one day I will be there again. I have 131 days until The Disneyland Half, which is the last race of my challenge, to focus on improving my pace. From now until The Disneyland Half, every run that I complete is a victory. I need to accept myself for who I am and what I am capable of.
In life, you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps (or in my case my running shoe laces) and keep on going.
13 Going on Crazy is a medium for acceptance, inspiration, growth and self-discovery. I am dedicated to cultivating a healthier mind, body and spirit relationship.
I invite you to explore the site and join me on this journey of self-discovery. Here are some of my personal favorite posts:
I hope that you will check out 13 Going on Crazy and that you, too, will set goals that others might view as crazy. You will know deep in your soul that pushing the limits will help you find your inner peace and serenity.
Thanks for going down the rabbit hole with me and remember wherever you go, there you are.
Are you the next Gutsy Girl feature with a story to tell?! Don’t be shy! Email me (sarah at sarahkayhoffman.com) or simply click HERE to reach out, and let’s get your fabulous self up!
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