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In 2014 my only daughter was married. What a wonderful, crazy, busy time. I had just finished my MBA, was working at a full time job and a part time job as well as putting together finishing touches and planning the arrivals and departures of guests from 6 states. I also noticed some changes in bowel movements. Mucous was present, oddly, since this was not something I had encountered though I was diagnosed with IBS in 2000. I didn't have time to do anything about it with all that was happening to get our house ready for family staying with us during the wedding in addition to the wedding planning with an increasingly nervous bride and the 2 jobs. The same month my daughter was married, I entered menopause. Yeah! Passed the 12 month mark! Had some hot flashes and fatigue, but more worrisome, I was now passing some blood and mucous. Made an appt after the wedding with a GI dr. Symptoms increased over June and July as I waited for a scheduled colonoscopy. So, just as I stopped bleeding from one orifice, now I'm bleeding from another. And having increasingly urgent need to use the toilet many, many times but only passing bloody mucous that had nothing to do with menopause. So the colonoscopy reveals UC. OK. Find out what you can, get treatment started and move on. Then I had a set back at my full time job. What was going to be a major event - taking on a new project and moving to another state was halted. I had to tell my boss about my condition. I haven't been into the office for 7 months now. I am able to work from home legitimately because we are on ROWE and I can do my work just as I would in the office given most meetings are by phone anyway. In January I learned that my dr. had given me a confusing treatment plan. Two weeks on Canasa suppository every day, then every other day for two weeks. I did that. Then stopped. By December I was so sick I actually lost my appetite. Not something that EVER happens. I could barely stay awake and, though on an antidepressant, was very depressed and spending a lot of time in the bathroom (as all with IBD understand). When I went to my follow up appointment with my GI doc, she clarified that I was to use the Canasa every day not just two weeks but FOREVER. So I was basically not understanding that I was in a major flare. I actually did start using the Canasa again before the appointment so I was feeling better when I finally got to my appointment. I believe there is a direct link between the hormonal changes from menopause and autoimmune disease. Why else would it begin so late for me (at 55)? I've read some incredibly brave stories about people dealing with IBD as young adults and having to have surgery to feel normal. I'm just pissed that I have to deal with this NOW when I thought I was done with all this kind of mess and would be able to do things I enjoy and travel. Having figured out how to handle IBS and know what to do when symptoms showed up, I was ready for the next chapter of my life. Work outs, volunteering, spending time with friends, traveling. Now I feel hemmed in by a disease no one understands. "Sorry for your troubles" I get from my sister. "So what do you take to get rid of it?" from co-workers. "Oh, that's shitty. Hahahah." My husband is mildly understanding given that he's an amputee with terrible back issues from walking on a prosthesis (given to him by a drunk driver when he was 20) for years, but he doesn't know what to say or do and I guess I'm too healthy looking (aka FAT) to be sick. I now realize what I am dealing with....forever. I'm going to be brave and the Canasa takes care of the flares pretty well, but I don't have the energy to launch my own awareness campaign. So if someone you know is diagnosed with IBD, please offer to support them in explaining it to friends, family members, and co-workers.

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Hamilton, NJ United States


Mar 11

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