I should start by telling you that I’m not Savannah (I totally got you with the nickname though, didn’t I?). No, I’m actually Izzy.
Like Savannah, I’m 19, I blog, and I am an apprentice working in the media industry (while Savannah hangs with celebs and journalists, I am on the other end of the spectrum working on social media for government policy…). Unlike Savannah, however, I have a thing called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which is what I’ll be telling you lovel all about!
For background, IBD is an umbrella term for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Both auto-immune diseases are relapsing/remitting (they go away and then flare up) and cause inflammation in the digestive system- Crohn’s can happen anywhere from mouth to bum, while UC’s inflammation occurs mostly in the colon- that’s the one that I’ve got.
About 115,000 people in the UK have IBD, and its most common with people reaching retirement, though there are more and more diagnoses in children. Symptoms include a sudden and/or dramatic loss of weight, diarrhoea… diarrhoea with mucus in it… bloody diarrhoea, extreme fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain and bloating. There are also ‘extra-intestinal manifestations- bonus symptoms as I like to call them- that can impact your joints, eyes and skin. Oh, and I couldn’t not mention the potential impact on mental health.
Now, don’t worry, the biology lesson is over! But I have to ask a question: how many of you saw the phrase IBD and felt offended I had offered background? Now, how many of you thought “IBWhat?”
Chances are, more of you fall in the latter category, and that’s okay. I knew nothing about the disease until I had it living inside me. I’d guess it’s because most people don’t comfortably talk about their poo, especially not 19 year old girls that blog and work in the media industry (I’m talking to you Savannah- open up, give the readers what they want!).
I’ll tell you something else about IBD now. For the most part, I look exactly like all of the other girls my age, if you don’t get close enough to see my eye bags, thinning hair and bruised inner arms… That makes IBD an ‘invisible illness’.
I think I’ve told you everything I possibly could. Now, what do I want you to do with all of this new information?
Firstly, don’t forget it. It took a lot of my energy to write all of these fancy facts.
Next, stop being uncomfortable when talking about your bathroom habits, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, I’m talking about your poo. Being disgusted is what prevents people like me from opening up about our health.
Finally, be health conscious. I mean this in two ways. Firstly, be aware of your own health. Don’t be embarrassed to see your GP, or even just tell a loved one, if you think there’s something not quite regular with your gastro-health. Secondly, remember that IBD, as much as I want us all to talk about everything, is a personal disease. Don’t offer unsolicited advice or recommendations- cutting out gluten will not cure me, I’ll have this disease forever. Don’t compare my IBD to your uncle’s friend’s son’s IBS- they’re not the same and I won’t listen to it.
I hope you learnt something new from this, and if you want to find out more, visit my blog: izzysstory.com. Fear not, I don’t only blog about my health, it’s pretty eclectic.
Thanks Savannah for letting me share my thoughts!