Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Beginning...

If I had a dime for every time I have heard the phrase "Your color looks good" in the last year I think I'd be rich! Since this is my first post, I guess I'll start with a little background:

My story began about 3 years ago when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was 25 years old. Since then, life has been a little bit of a roller coaster; mostly good, with the last year being the most challenging time of my life. So that I don't go on and on I'll just give you the short version (well at least I'll try). On April 14, 2009 I was admitted into the hospital with a flare that I had been trying unsuccessfully to get under control for the last 2 months. By that time I had lost almost 30 pounds (I started at only 108 lbs so losing 30 pounds was not a good thing!) and was extremely ill. On May 5th, I had my first of 3 surgeries, which was a total colectomy (in layman's terms, I had my colon removed). Yes, you can live without a colon! For the next 5 months I was to live with a temporary illeostomy and endure 2 more surgeries. If you don't think that's bad enough, wait there's more! After my first surgery, I had lost so much weight that a fat pad that allows food to pass into your stomach closed and I had to have a tube down my nose into my stomach for 3 weeks so I could "eat" through the tube. Oh, I almost forgot the two blood clots from picc lines and the three months of blood thinners I'd have to take because of those suckers. How could I forget that?

Three months later was my second surgery where the doctors created my J-pouch, an internal "pouch" made out of my small intestine that would essentially act as my new colon. I know... weird. From the beginning, my body did not react well to this surgery. I was vomiting the day after surgery which meant...yep, you guessed it...another tube down my nose into my stomach. I only had this one for 3 days though. Three weeks after surgery I became sick again. For the next month, I had no appetite, was nauseous, incredibly weak and was losing weight. Basically I felt like hell. And to top it all off, my incision wasn't healing correctly so my surgeon had to cut part of it open again and I had to pack it with gauze for 8 weeks. Yes, it's as gross and painful as it sounds. After an ER trip, 3 day hospital stay, and a tube in my stoma (aka Stomie the Clown), I had my final takedown surgery a month early. My surgeon found that I had scar tissue that was not letting food completely pass through which was causing all my problems.

My takedown surgery went off without a hitch! It's now been 8 months since my final surgery and I'm doing great! I've gained back almost all my weight, I'm active, and lovin' life. My purpose for this blog is to use my experiences to get the word out about IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and other chronic illnesses and to help those suffering from them. IBD and chronic illness can create so many emotions including anxiety, depression, fear, and helplessness. I found that it helped tremendously to have someone to talk to who had been through what I was going through and to get educated (just not too don't want to scare yourself with what could possibly, but probably won't, go wrong).

Anyway, that's all I got for now...stay tuned for more...


  1. Hi Jen, received the blog website via Frank2. I am so glad to hear that you are doing well. Kudos, too, for using what you learned from the "life experience" and your psychological knowledge in helping others. Wishing you continued health and happiness. Bravo Jen!

    "Aunt Suzie"|

  2. I admire you and love your story, as sad as it is. However, it has a happy ending. Wonderful!