World IBD Day and My Story

“I been silent so long now it’s gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my God; you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It’s still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.”

(But this did happen. I swear. Ask my GI. Or my colon if you can find it. But don’t ask Ken Kesey)

So not a lot of people know my IBD story. They know I have it. They know I write about it, and that tends to be it. They learn the basic fact and don’t pry- which I am incredibly thankful for- but I do think it’s important to document, because I think my story is similar to a lot of diagnosis stories, and if you’re going through it I can let you know that it will get easier…

My entire life I faced stomach troubles. I went to the ER eleven times between Pre-K and 5th grade. Each time my family thought I had appendicitis and each time the doctor’s determined that I was just really really constipated. At this point they would give me an enema and send me home- Often times my mom would pick us up McDonalds on the way home, hollah.

In 8th grade my mom was like “Hannah you’re not sick you’re lactos intolorent.” This was the first time I had blood after a  BM, but we just cut dairy out of my diet and it went away.

And then things were fine…

Until they weren’t. In my Junior year of high school I had SERIOUS health problems. Chronic joint pain to the point that I never even wanted to move. My hips and knee joints were fucked. They did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy…and found nothing. They checked my blood work…and found nothing. They sent me to a kidney specialist…who found nothing. They sent me to a rheumatologist and they gave me a fibromyalgia diagnosis and put me in physical therapy, which seriously helped! So much so that I was convinced I was cured and therefore elected to go to a college 6 hours away from my home town and my BCBS approved medical group in my senior year of high school.

So my freshman year of a college. 18 Credits. 2 Jobs. What could possibly go wrong? Spoiler alert: The answer is ‘literally everything.’  After totally rocking –read: crash landing –my first semester in college I reported for my second semester in January, feeling fine. Like nothing amazing, but fine. I still would have joint pain time to time, but nothing was wrong. And then the blood and diarrhea started. And for a while. I just ignored it, because on top of two jobs, 18 credits, and a long-distance relationship there was one thing I didn’t have time for and it was a chronic illness. I ignored it for so long I ended up in the ER due to lightheartedness and potential anemia.

I got lucky. I didn’t need an iron transplant. I mentioned the diarrhea and they tested me for the usual. H-Pylori (?), Shigella, Salmonella, and C. diff. ding.ding.ding. 

Ya gurl had a C. diff infection. a nasty one that had been lurking there for the last 2 months. So the doctor was like “get the girl some flagyl” and said “this happens all the time in young people. it is a new trend.” and sent me on my way.

Sadly for my GI that did not get rid of me. I came back with another positive c. diff test shortly after finishing my flagyl. Even once I took vanco and cleared my infection, my symptoms persisted. It was then that I underwent my second colonoscopy in which they diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis.

Getting there was hard, few things are as scary as not knowing what is wrong with your body, but I would be lying if I said that for me it was the hardest part, but more on that later…

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