Today (19th May 2022) is World IBD Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and tackling stigma’s associated with all invisible bowel diseases.
We asked our ambassador Ant to answer a few questions on his journey with IBD, along with sharing a few words on why he thinks it’s important to raise awareness. 💜
Can you tell a bit about yourself and your journey with IBD?
Hi my name is Ant (also know as @ibdlife) and I’ve had ulcerative colitis for 13 years or so. I started my IBD journey when I was 18 and started to get really painful cramps and diarrhoea. After going backwards and forwards to doctors, I was eventually diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Although it took almost a year to fully diagnose I was started on steroids and other cocktails of drugs. For the next 11 years my consultants and I tried and failed on several different types of medication before I elected to have my large colon removed and my ileostomy formed. I had my surgery in 2020, just before the pandemic, and since then my life had completely changed for the better.
What was life like pre diagnosis compared to now?
I would always be running off to the toilet, feeling exhausted and being in so much pain. Although I would still play sport, go to the gym and generally try to live my life to the fullest, I would pay the price for being too exuberant . So if I played rugby on a Saturday, I’d still feel so drained on the Tuesday before training. I’d always struggle with food and not being able to eat my favourite foods, as I knew I’d be so unwell after. Since my surgery, my life has completely changed. I’m no longer exhausted 24/7. I can eat all my favourite foods, I can go out and enjoy myself and I feel like my ileostomy has given me my quality of life back!
Why do you raise awareness and why is it important to you?
Because there is always somebody who has no idea what’s happening to them with IBD. No idea what’s normal, what isn’t and where they can turn. I remember feeling so isolated and alone when I was diagnosed, I want to be somebody that anyone can turn too, ask questions and even just listen to their worries. I remember being in hospital, pre stoma surgery, and I felt as if I was on my own. Fortunately I had several friends, colleagues and IBD advocates who were on hand to help me through and I want to do the same for everyone else.
What would you say to someone who is struggling?
You’re not alone. You can always chat to me and others, Ask as many questions as you want so you get a clear idea of what you need and pay attention to what your body tells you. Take it day by day and speak with your IBD teams.