Being diagnosed with any condition can be hard. Being diagnosed with a chronic digestive disease might feel impossible at first, but the good news is that it’s not! Living and thriving with Inflammatory Bowel Disease is so possible that thousands of people are doing it. It can get pretty complicated but here are some helpful tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
Get to know your body…
1. Get to know your body – The best way to start taking care of yourself and begin taking charge of your health is by getting to know your body. Once you do, you’ll be able to pin point exactly what’s bothering you or when you’re starting to show signs of a flare.
3. Do your own research – My major downfall when I was diagnosed. I took my physician’s word as law and didn’t do much of any research on my own. In order to become an active partner in your healthcare you must first learn how your condition and the body works.
4. Check out an IBD center – I think my treatment would have gone a lot smoother if I’d invested more time in seeing specialists who only work with IBD patients.
Tell someone you trust…
5. Tell someone you trust – If you’re newly diagnosed, chances are you don’t want to go yelling it from the rooftops. That’s okay; as anything does, coming to terms with your diagnosis takes time. Talking about your condition and your fears can help speed along your journey to acceptance. Try talking to someone you’re close to.
6. Consult a nutritionist – Something I’d really wish I’d done when I was diagnosed was consult with a nutritionist. They may not have all the answers or the magic cure but they may be able to shed some light on how to eat better and get adequate nutrition during a flare.
7. Cry – There’s no shame in crying. I didn’t cry when I was diagnosed. Instead I chose to lie to myself, hide my symptoms and suppress my immune system for years. Deal with your emotions whatever way works best for you. Dealing with them now will help you to move past this stage and deal with your issues head on.
Meet others with IBD…
8. Meet others with IBD – Whether you choose online or (my personal preference) in person, meeting other people with your condition and talking to people who understand will help you to feel empowered and confident in taking charge of your healthcare.
9. Do what you can- At the time I was diagnosed I’d been given two blood transfusions. The doctor said he didn’t know how I did it all: school, clubs, Tennis team, etc. Because my blood levels were half of what they should have been. Knowing how sick I was and even being aware of my severe Iron Deficiency Anemia, as soon as I left the hospital I chose to hit life hard. I needed to catch up with school, I needed to get back to my team. It was a terrible decision and only brought me pain and embarrassment. Learn your body and learn what you can and cannot handle – Abide by those restrictions.
10. A few years into my diagnosis I actually became very good at this. Always be prepared for anything. Keep a bag or backpack full of your IBD emergency supplies.