Fall Down, Get Back Up.

Days like this make you appreciate the good days. The frustration of feeling like crap all the time lately is really getting to me. Anxiety of not being able to go anywhere unless there is a bathroom within running distance -__- All of it that we deal with daily has just been magnified lately. Oh, and by the way some ofIMG_1006 you that follow my blog. I did end up getting kicked out of school even after going all the way to the top. At least the President of the school had some sympathy for me, thankfully he let us have some peace in all of this. I just want to give a quick shout out to the Director of Nursing and Dean of Health at STCC for making my life a living hell for two and a half weeks, threatening me via email/letter, along telling me to consider a new profession. (I’m still a little bitter) But anyways, I’m no longer attending nursing school this year, talk about a knife to the stomach. Literally, the stress sent me into a bigger flare than I was already in. But hey, that’s what this life is all about isn’t it. You fall down, you get back up. Everything happens for a reason.

Working my two part time jobs is about all I have in me to do. And yes, I feel like a piece of crap sometimes to the people around me. I feel we (us, Crohnies) often get labeled as “lazy” or “unmotivated” but what a lot of people don’t understand is the strength it takes to get through the day and still keep a smile on our face while doing it. Pain medication has almost become a daily thing now, which I hate, just so I can get through dinner with friends, getting out of the house, etc. But that shit (excuse my French) takes a lot out of you and also makes me pretty emotional.. More than your average girl on her period lol Speaking of periods, being in a flare and having your period at the same time is I think one of the worst things I’ve experienced. Thankfully I’m on birth control where I only have to experience this every three months hah God bless you ladies with complicated Crohn’s cases that get your period every month. I feel for you.

Since my colonoscopy my doctor has changed my whole medication regimen. I came off of the Entyvio and prednisone (thank the Lord). I am now on Uceris, Methotrexate, and Humira… Again. This is my second time on Methotrexate and my third time on Humira. I’ve never taken them together though so hopefully this is the lucky combination. I had a meeting today with my Humira Advocate and after she left I was thinking to myself: “Okay, I’ve had Crohn’s now for over 10 years and in the past 6 of those 10 I have never been in complete remission but I’ve been close to it for a total of maybe 6 months”. That’s kind of craziness. I have hope though that something will work, sooner than later.FullSizeRender (8)

With no cure, that’s all that gets us through this disease is hope. At this point my biggest hope is that these side effects don’t throw me over the edge and have to come off of the med like every other time. I’ve always said with Crohn’s, any other disease, or in a perfectly healthy person: life is quality, not quantity. Even though a lot of the time my quality of life is pretty shitty, the days that it’s good makes it that much better. You don’t know if you’ll be here tomorrow so do what makes you happy and feel good at that time and place. Don’t worry about what other people think, keep that smile on and do you.

-xoMichelle

 

A Fork in The Road

It was Thursday morning a week into nursing school, the sun was shining, and I got up bright and early to go study before class started. As I go through my notes my phone lights up with an email. It is from the director of nursing at STCC. The email is telling me she wants me to meet with her and the Dean of the Health Department to discuss my “situation” right now. Right off the bat this didn’t give me a very good feeling. I had contacted her earlier about any further steps I needed to take regarding my vaccinations. I am on medications for my Crohn’s that prevent me to receive live vaccines (which I’m sure many of you Crohnies are familiar with). Unfortunately when I got my titers done I had not converted over with almost all of my immunizations. I think the only thing I was immune to was Measles.

When I found out this information over the summer I contacted to school immediately and provided documentation for everything. They told me all I needed was a doctor’s note stating I cannot receive these immunizations. After I did this I didn’t hear from them so I assumed everything was fine. Well, needless to say they are now trying to kick me out of the program due to medications I’m on and not being able to receive my immunizations. They told me I am not health cleared because I have not received these shots. I do understand this is important and that they have to hold up to the contracts… Buttttt, what baffles me is anyone can refuse any vaccinations for religious reasons (they have forms for that to fill out) and still participate in the program and clinical. Discrimination? I think so.

When I was sat down with the Dean and director I was told I need to withdraw immediately to prevent losing money (by the way, this was the last day of the semester to withdraw without penalty, coincidence?). They did tell me I would have automatic readmission to the program but if I were to go back on all of these immune suppressing medications (I am on methotrexate, prednisone, and Uceris) I would then have to withdraw again. She proceeded to tell me, “I should really consider a new profession”. Rude. If this wasn’t a knife to my stomach I don’t know what would be. And also, am I the only sick person who wants to become a nurse? Like come on, let’s be realistic here this can’t be the first time this has happened.

I have worked so hard to get into this program, I lost it when they told me this. They let me sit there and cry in front of them while they just stared at me with blank faces. After leaving I thought about it more and was absolutely not withdrawing. This was not right and something about the whole situation had to be illegal. I called my mom and doctor and they were on it like flies on shit. They clearly did not know who they were messing with. To me it sounds like they just don’t want to be bothered filling out extra paper work and/or make special arrangements for me (find a place I can clinical at). Oh, and I didn’t even let them tell me I can’t attend lecture and labs. I was not going to fall behind while this gets figured out.

The past five years of my life I have struggled to stay in school due to health issues. I have had to withdraw twice due to hospitalizations and I’ve taken multiple semesters off because of it. When I finally am feeling good and am ready to go to school full time they just have to knock me down. I’m not an easy one to knock down though. My family and doctor have both worked really hard to keep my psyche in check because this disease is so wearing on the mind. When you’re not able to go to school or work you feel useless and like you’re not going anywhere in life. I’ve had this feeling many times during my life but it vanished when I got accepted into nursing school. I could finally see my future and what I was meant to do. This isn’t just school to me, this is the rest of my life. It is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Even if in the end I am not able to attend nursing school, they’re not going to get out of this one without a very big fight.

Life isn’t always fair, but in my head I keep saying over and over again: everything happens for a reason. And I truly believe that. Don’t just be a fighter against your disease, be a fighter in life.

-xoMichelle

Attention all athletes!

I was going through old articles and pictures from when I was a dancer, gymnast, and diver. I found this article which I had completely forgotten about and thought it’d be something really good to share. Never let this disease take you down or hold you back!

I copied and pasted the article so it was easier for you guys to read rather than clicking on another link. It is from masslive.com. This article was written by a local reporter, Russ Held, and picture is by Dave Rowback of Westfield, MA.

Michelle Strattner, Westfield High school diver, to other Crohn’s Disease Sufferers: Don’t Give up

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Westfield High School diver Michelle Strattner wants others with Crohn’s disease to learn how to cope with affliction as she has.

The last thing Michelle Strattner of Westfield wants to make is a splash.
Not as a second-year diver on the city’s high school swim team.
And not as a 17-year-old high school senior – battling a chronic disease – who just wants to feel normal.
Strattner is one of the leading contenders entering Thursday night’s Western Massachusetts High School Diving Championships at Springfield College. The boys and girls competition begins at 7 p.m. at Art Linkletter Natatorium at Springfield College.
Making a splash while diving off the one-meter board could spoil her hopes of improving on last year’s sixth- place finish at the championships.
The bigger splash, or impact, she may ultimately make will come from being a role model to others.
Strattner suffers from Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Excruciating abdominal pain and chronic fatigue are among many symptoms.
“I just want to be normal, to feel normal,” Strattner said. “The fatigue is so bad some days, I can’t even get off the couch. I’m 17 but I do feel like 87 some days. I really have to push myself just to do what everyone else can do.”
Few people – only some friends, family and teammates – know her battle. But Strattner has reached a point where she is comfortable sharing her story, hopeful to help others.
“I’d hope that others who have it, don’t give up,” Strattner said. “It’s really, really hard, but they can be normal. I just want to be normal.”
Strattner was diagnosed with Crohn’s as a seventh grader.
“I’ve had problems all my life. It was really bad in elementary school,” she said. “It was a relief to know what it was, but it was very scary too. It’s not really a disease people know about or understand.”
The condition can be hereditary, and Strattner said she recalls that her late maternal grandfather underwent four surgeries.
“That was the scariest part, knowing he had the surgeries and that it might be that way for me,” Strattner said.
Strattner battles Crohn’s, with no known cure, primarily with medication and rest, “and just trying to take care of myself.”
“I have to be smart about what I do,” Strattner said, “But it’s frustrating, to always have to deal with it. I have to give myself shots, and it is extremely painful.”
A late weekend night or overexertion can take it toll on her energy level for days at a time.
“I am usually run down for the next week,” Strattner said. “A lot of people ask and wonder why I have to miss so much school or why I have to sleep as much as I do.
“I have some really rough mornings. It’s a process every day. It doesn’t really get better. At points I have given up for a while.”
But through it all, Strattner has remained upbeat, knowing that “a lot of people have worse things to worry about.”
Westfield swimming coach Tom Lewis describes Strattner as humble, an inspiration and leader by example.
“The other kids see her as a role model,” Lewis said. “And if you told her that, she’d probably feel embarassed.
“She’s a young lady with great character. It’s rough enough being a high school athlete, let alone the challenges she faces. She always has this phenomenal smile on her face.”
On the diving board, Strattner said her senior season immediately exceeded her expectations.
“I thought I’d be rusty, I hadn’t done it since last season,” she said. “I thought I’d come in so-so and work my way back to where I was. But right away I did very well.”
Strattner holds the second- highest diving average (188.03) in the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference, behind only Lauren Weiner (193.0) of Agawam.
She broke a 15-year-old school scoring record at a single meet. That score of 226.95 ranks as the highest, by 5.55 points in the region this winter.
She started diving on a whim, less than 18 months ago, when a friend asked her to try out.
Strattner had been a top competitor on the high school’s gymnastics team, helping the Bombers win two Western Mass. team titles through her junior season.
“The same ability you need in gymnastics translates to diving … the technique, a lot of it came naturally to me,” she said.
She was named to The Republican’s All-Scholastic second team in gymnastics as a sophomore and junior.
“It was pretty hard on my body and I was a little burnt out on it … so I did not compete as a senior,” said Strattner, who trained and competed in dance for eight years.
Strattner said that if she is well-rested Thursday night, her physical condition and mental focus for a few hours Thursday night should not be affected by Crohn’s.
She’ll just be a normal teenager trying not to make a splash.