Oh happy day :)

Today has been a day for the books. I honestly never thought I’d ever see this day happening. I’m so excited to announce to my blogger friends, fellow Crohnies, and anyone who follows my blog that I am officially in clinical remission!!! WHUUUUT! (Side effects from my last blog are starting to get sorted out and somewhat under control btw!) This is amazing. 16 years have gone by with little to no relief. I’ve worked so hard to keep a healthy mind dealing with all of the frustrations that comes along with being chronically ill and honestly sometimes I wasn’t too good at it. But, days like this make it worth those struggles.

I had my routine doctor appointment and was seriously astounded by my colonoscopy notes. I’ve never seen my doctor so happy. I can owe my life to these doctors out in Boston. Especially the one who pushed for me to go there in the first place, Dr. Essers. And the one who continued and still continues to follow my case and do literally everything he can to get me healthy, Dr. Snapper. These guys are the definition of what a doctor should be. Not only have they shared my frustrations with treatment failures but they’ve been by my hospital beds in the midst of my mental breakdowns. Dr. Snapper was by my side through my very difficult transition into adult medicine, which was one of my hardest times mentally dealing with the disease. They spend time with me, discuss my case with other doctors around the country, and give me the absolute best treatment they can offer. Dr. Snapper’s PA, Beth-Anne, is also just as amazing. She answers my emails off hours, she’s always there for me.

These people are truly incredible. They don’t just treat me, they fight for me. After countless of semesters having to withdraw because of hospitalizations I came to one of my biggest defeats yet: getting kicked out of nursing school because of my illness and knocked out immune system. But I wasn’t alone, Beth-Anne was there to fight for me. She called the school, she wrote a letter. What medical professionals take the time to do these kinds of things? I’m SO lucky to have them on my side. Any time I see them I’m not greeted with a handshake and hello but a hug, huge smile, and “it’s so nice to see you Michelle!”. I can’t ever get out of the office without getting a hug from the infusion nurse, Jane, and update her on any new boyfriends I have haha! (it’s always one of her first questions). These people are not only just my medical team but they’re family to me.

Nothing puts life quite into perspective like being chronically ill. Yes, I know there is no cure to Crohn’s Disease, and it could flare on me at any time. But these are the times that I don’t take for granted, how could you? I feel good! Writing this is almost bringing me to tears. I truly have such a good support system and I couldn’t do it without any of you. Friends from home, friends I’ve made from this blog, my family. I couldn’t do it without my PCP doctor Lao (who takes care of most of my side effects and is totally sick of me by now hah!), my local Walmart pharmacy who knows me by name haha. And last but not least my mom whose spent more hours than I can even count on the phone fighting with insurance companies to approve my $16,000 monthly cost of medications and has never let me go to a doctor appointment alone two hours away in Boston. She has slept next to me in hospital beds and hasn’t left my side. Also, never fails to laugh with me and make light of being chronically sick… AKA she is the person who keeps me sane through it all.

A lot is wrong with the world we live in… But don’t lose hope in humanity. There’s still good people out there. When it comes down to it life isn’t about politics, money, things, or even beliefs. To me, life is about the experiences I go through, the love I’m surrounded with, the bad days that make me appreciate the good ones, and that’s it. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. For these reasons never forget to show gratitude and thank those people in your life. Because I know, without them I’m not quite sure if I’d even be alive to see this day. The day I’ve been waiting for for over 16 years, and I couldn’t be happier to share it with all of you!

-xoMichelle

 

An Immune System, what’s that?

My body is no long familiar with what an immune system is, and quite frankly I’m not sure I am either hah! They say laughing is contagious and I’ll tell you, I wish lack of immune system made me more vulnerable to that instead of making the common cold seem like a never ending soap opera! That’s one thing I wouldn’t mind catching! Being treated with anti TNF inhibitors, immunomodulators, biologics, etc.. all of the fancy-shmancy medications we owe our life to come with a price to pay. Side effects are inevitable at some point in time living with a chronic illness. One of the most common is making us more susceptible to infections whether that be viral, bacterial, cancers (yep), and other immune sexinessdeficiencies or diseases. And there’s no way around this side effect because it really just means the medication is doing its job. They all act in different ways but for the most part they all are compromising or “working on” our immune system since Crohn’s disease is basically an abnormal immune reaction to the GI tract which causes inflammation and complications.

My body never “caught” things more often than the normal person before. The doctors kind of just put thoughts in my head to be extra careful. Being exposed to certain infectious diseases can be extremely dangerous to a person with a weakened immune system, and by that I mean life threatening. We, as patients, have a responsibility to be aware of this but it does make it easier when medical professionals and the ones we are closest to are aware to (and this is where vaccines come into place as well, another post on that controversy to come lol). I once kind of freaked out at the carelessness of Baystate hospital for putting me right next to someone with TB when I had a serious flare, a very bad kidney infection, and was on multiple medications that significantly lowered my immune system (yeah that happened). But other than that I’ve never really experienced anything significant.

That is until… I wasn’t responding to the usual dose of Humira which is an injection every other week so my doctor increased my dose to once a week. TADA! Crohn’s buh-bye! I feel great! Until I start experiencing allergies (or you may call them sensitivities) that I have never had before. Muscle soreness and much longer recovery time after the gym. Then… Here comes “cold and flu” season so my body decides it’s just going to catch everything under the sun! It has been about a month and a half and I have had little to no relief. Not only is this wearing on the body but on the mind as well. Doctor visits, urgent care visits, physical therapy, xrays, MRI’s, blood tests, sinus infection, laryngitis, tendinitis, I could go on and on of what the past two months have been.. This sounds pretty miserable right? Yep it is. But it’s the price I’m willing to pay. I no longer really have to worry about a bathroom nearby every time I eat (YEAH IT’S A MIRACLE), and stomach pain is few and far between. (We all have our bad days that catch us by surprise.. like the week of my period might as well just stay in bed for a week straight between cramps and the mini flare I get every single time.. but we’re not focusing on that here.. so, moving on..).

I decided to take things into my own hands and try different methods of controlling my symptoms so I can regain quality of life. I will be writing another strength.jpgpost to expand on this but for right now I’m just trying to raise awareness to the fact even though a person with a chronic illness may be in remission, it still affects their day to day life. It is all about balance and what a patient will endure or physically can endure to get relief from symptoms of their disease. I might consider my Crohn’s Disease to be in remission although my doctor hasn’t clinically declared this, my stomach symptoms are almost obsolete, but my quality of life just isn’t there yet. I’m working right now to change this because I truly believe I can (especially the mindset of it). I’ve been about ten years with no little to smileeeeno remission so sometimes you just man up and take one problem over the other. Just keep in mind, we might not complain to the world about these issues we face (only to the ones we love the most 😉 ) because it really is nothing compared to the pain and frustration of having a flare up of disease. As I say: throw a smile on despite the struggle of getting out of bed, life could be a lot worse, we have a lot to be thankful for, and its just another day in the life of a Crohnie!

 

-xoMichelle

Buncha thanks!

Well considering it’s been a long time since I’ve written I have a lot to tell you all, assuming you were all wondering what’s been going on in this glamorous life of mine 😉 I just downloaded the WordPress app on my phone since I had gotten a new one and some of the comments people have left since I’ve been on last have definitely made me want to be more active again on this. I miss my fellow Crohnies on here!

Let’s start with the totally awesome news! My doctor did a colonoscopy and my disease was still active but much more mild. Because of this I am still doing the Entyvio infusions once every eight weeks. (side note: anyone on Entyvio- a fairly new drug- experience sever fatigue the 24 hours after infusion?) And just a fun fact, it was my first colonoscopy EVER that didn’t send me into a flare! Woohoo! That was back in December. Since then, I have gotten even better. My exhaustion is slowly going away. If you’re a Crohnie you know this could possibly be the biggest miracle ever because some people in remission still have that lag, especially if you’re on an immunosuppressant . I am back to working out at least four days a week and eating pretty healthy. I also started taking krill oil and a probiotic (the really expensive good quality ones you have to keep in the fridge, I don’t recommend taking the cheaper Walmart shelf ones). I really think these two things have helped aid in me feeling so good. I have gotten past my rebellious “I took so many pills for the first fifteen years of my life I refuse to take anymore!” stage lol. I realize how much these supplements help me. I do not take a multivitamin though, and I have my own personal reasons for that… Which I actually am probably going to write another blog on in the future. But anyways, it’s so nice to experience having energy. This sounds pathetic but I really never realized in my 22 years of life what it felt like to get through a day without being fatigued. It’s great!

Onto another topic, I have so many people to thank in my life lately. One being my mom, as you all know she’s my best friend and been my rock my whole life. But people have really stepped up to the plate per say in being a friend and being more active in my life. And I have tried my hardest to return the favor. I’m not going to name names because you know who you are if you’re reading this. I’ve had some of the same friends for a while now, girls and guys, and as you get older you appreciate those relationships more. You also learn who to trust and who will be there for you. I’ve done that this year and I’m very lucky to have some of these people in my life. So thank you!

I’ve also kept in contact with my old doctor from Boston Children’s which I think I’ve mentioned before. And even though he’s now across the country, he deserves the recognition. He helped me through some of my hardest times a few years back when my disease was at its worst. He dealt with several hospitalizations, arguing with Springfield doctors with the egos the size of Texas, me crying my eyes out laying in the hospital bed, along with all the frustration. I am so lucky to not only have been treated by him but developed such a good patient-doctor relationship with him. I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for me Dr. Essers! (If you are reading this that is haha).

Another person I owe a big one to is my current doctor. He’s probably the only reason I still have all of my intestines and I’m not pooping into a bag. He’s worked so hard on my case, tried so many different medications, consulted with people across the country for me (per my mom’s request at the mayo clinic lol smh). He’s also been a huge help with my transition from pediatrics to adult medicine. I’ve also developed an amazing relationship with him as well. I’ve been so lucky with the doctor’s I’ve had, and honestly I owe my life to them. They aren’t only phenomenal doctors but amazing people!

I just felt the need to thank these people. Without them I wouldn’t be half the person I am today! I will be back soon to write but in the mean time all my New Englanders stay safe with this crazy weather coming our way!

-xoMichelle