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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Hiking Big Bend National Park, New Years 2013

Hey Friends. I have been pretty MIA lately due to a busy life, a growing non-profit and an active social life. All of which wouldn’t be possible with my awesome jpouch. I put it to the ultimate test a few weeks ago though when I went on a 3 day, 4 night hiking trip at Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Continue reading “Hiking Big Bend National Park, New Years 2013”

Now Its Raining Cats and Depression

A few months ago I wrote about how it felt like it was raining cats and bowel problems. It felt like everyone I knew was having some issues with their IBD/jpouch/Ostomy. Like for whatever reason, the IBD gods were smiting us all. It sucked.

Well now its raining cats and depression. I have countless friends that are going through deep and severe bouts of depression right now. Myself included. I’ve found that when I get depressed, like this, there are very few things that I want to do. Most of them involve self medicating and sleeping. Wallowing on my couch has been a favorite activity for the last month. And then talking to my other friends about why they are depressed and if/how we can help each other.

What I’ve learned about having depressed friends is that it is a blessing and a curse. Its just like having other chronically ill friends. Sometimes you can relate to each other so well, that its incredibly comforting know that at least someone out there kind of understands why you haven’t showered in 5 days and are ok living on a box of cheeze its for an extended period of time.

But other times, you tend to bring each other down and its a slippery slope. My friends and I try to check in on each other daily and if I’m having a good day and they are having a bad day, I’ve noticed my feelings can change. And the same vice versa. Sometimes I have to tell certain friends that I can’t be their support network right now because I am not strong enough in my own life. Being depressed almost always revolves around some level of being selfish. Maybe you’re ignoring your friends calls. Maybe you cancel plans. Maybe you’re not a listening ear when someone else needs it. I think all of that is fine as long as you just give people a heads up on why you’re doing it. I have told people lately, that I’m have a really difficult time in my life right now, so I find myself retracting and isolating, so please don’t take it personally. And that’s all I have to say.

Some days are ok. Some days I wake up already hyper focusing on negative issues and things that I can’t change. Those days I take a lot of Xanax and when I get home I have a glass of wine. Is this the “right” way to deal with it? Nope. But right now sometimes I have to just shut my brain off, and that is how I choose to do it. Depression is a weird thing that is unique for everyone. All that I really know is that its very difficult to crawl out from it and that a lot of people I care about are down in this hole with me.  But I am doing what I can to crawl out, step by step, day by day. I take my anti depressants. I take my Xanax. I go to therapy. I talk to my friends and I try to set small daily goals so I can feel like I accomplished something. Sometimes that goal is just getting the mail but at least I did it.

Just know that many of us who are chronically ill deal with depression in varying degrees. Mild to severe. Frequent to periodically. I know that it does get better, even though it feels awful right now. It does. It will. In time.

 

 

 

 

 

Dehydration – The obvious and no so obvious

I am currently starting a new medication for MS called Tecfidera. Much to my chagrin, the first month of this medication has patient reports of mega GI issues. So “mega” that many patients with normal colons stop the medication. Jackie, why are you such a dumb dumb and taking this med? Well, in terms of MS medications the options are limited because I am not “compliant” with taking injections. Which basically means no matter how many times I start an injection therapy, I forget, don’t want to, or whatever other excuse there is for not taking it. Last year I tried Gilenya, which was the first oral medication released for MS, and well…I can’t take that one either. So I’m here, trying Tecfidera and all was well for the first week or so but now, its just dehydration all over. My poop is 100% liquid, and I haven’t been eating much because it makes me feel super nauseous. I even had an accident last night because the stool was so loose. This literally NEVER happens to me. So this brings me to my favorite IBD delimma, to ER or not to ER. Before you give me the lecture, just know that I will probably wait until the last minute to go because its what I do.

BUT the whole point of this thing is symptoms of dehydration because so many are obvious and a few are not so obvious. So when I’m dehydrated, here is what I feel.

  • Extreme fatigue (I’m sleeping like 11-12 hrs a night and its not helping)
  • Nausea
  • Dry and itchy eyes
  • Sore throat or a “sick voice”
  • a heavy head, it feels difficult to keep it held up
  • It feels like I poop liquid more frequently, almost as if my body is tying to deplete itself
  • Contrary to most people, I don’t feel thirst. I actually do not want to drink at all
  • Dry skin on my face and hands
  • Constant headaches all over my head, unlike a cluster headache
  • light headedness
  • difficulty with breathing
  • everything is slow, my walking, my talking, my thinking, everything
  • fever or hot flashes
  • I also feel very cold and get chills often, regardless of the hot flashes
  • heavy heart beat. When I lay still I can feel my heart moving my whole torso when it beats.
  • Sore back between my shoulder blades

So what do I do about it? First I get really frustrated and angry. Then I load up on Smart Water (because I truly believe it works). Then I sleep a whole lot. I’ve been pretty depressed lately, so I’m doing my best not to cry. There are these hydration packets that I think I’m going to try this time. Frankly there is a huge part of me that wants to just give up on the home hydration because its exhausting and very frustrating. But someone once told me the importance of taking control of your health even when its going down hill. I recently learned that the way you do or don’t take care of yourself can frame how someone views you. I always make jokes about my future, and how pitiful it maybe, but I learned that not everyone thinks those jokes are funny.

Frankly, I’m tired of taking care of myself, but you know what? You do what you have to do and hopefully this time won’t involve the ER.

More Adventures in Dating – Guest Post

The Love Birds
The Love Birds

I met my boyfriend shortly before his first surgery. His illness was pretty epic. He had been sick for maybe ten years with UC when we met. He moved to the UK to change careers and started training as a teacher at the school where I worked. It was not an easy school to work at, even for someone experienced. I’d hate to think how hard it must’ve been on immunosuppressants and steroids and in constant pain. But he managed to do it all and still remain cheerful. The staff and the students all loved him. No one knew how sick he was. Not even his best friend I think. I suppose he had learned to keep it from a lot of people by then, but he was really unwell.

A few months later he was hospitalized with shingles, as the drugs had weakened his immune system. We were friends by then and he tells me now that he’d already fallen for me, but decided he was in no state to contemplate women or relationships due to his health. I knew he had colitis, but I knew bugger all about the disease apart from that it affected the bowel. A few months later he had his bowel removed as a matter of urgency and had complications from his surgery. We kept in touch through our mutual friends and he returned to work after the summer.

We became great friends when he returned to work. Weirdly, his illness was partially responsible for us getting together. UC had nearly killed him, but it made him so grateful and positive about being alive after his first operation, he was so awesome to be around. His love of life was contagious and I loved hanging out with him. I’d never known someone with such a unique perspective. He used to tell me how great it felt to feel the wind and rain on his face after months stuck in hospital. Anyone who could be positive about the English weather had to be something special.

I knew he had an ostomy, but it didn’t bother me. He was so much healthier because of it and I was just so grateful he was around, bag or no. I let him tell me about his illness and surgeries when he was ready. We took a while to get together. The only reason I hesitated was because we had become so close as friends and we had a close knit group of common friends, that we both sensed it had to be all or nothing if we got together.

Since then we’ve not let it hold us back: I nicknamed his ostomy Oswald and we saw the funny side when he made noises, we saw the bright side to Oswald when we went to psy trance festivals in the middle of nowhere and managed to convince the medical team to let us use the medical tent loos (even though we spoke zero Hungarian), we realised his limitations when moved in together a matter of weeks after his second operation (and subsequent infections). Tip: Do not allow your significant other to try to move house post op, coming off tramadol and morphine.

The most difficult part of being with him was seeing him get down about having Oswald. I was so into this guy, I couldn’t have cared less if he had an ostomy or not. It didn’t scare me off but it really upset me that it made him uncomfortable, self-conscious or less confident at times. He avoided being completely naked around me at first which I understood, but his bag never put me off. It had saved his life. I fucking loved that thing.

A letter written to her partners ostomy
A letter written to her partners ostomy, click to see larger

There was one time, not long after we got together, when we were staying at our mates’ house. We’d had a lazy morning and were in the early stages of our relationship where you shag each other’s brains out. Then… the worst thing that could’ve happened happened. A leak. A significant leak. In bed. Pretty much right after a really lovely moment. Looking back now, we both think it’s pretty fucking funny. Not only did it occur at THE MOST (well, almost the most) inopportune time, but also: we weren’t at home and our best mates knew what had just gone on. But, despite it being embarrassing at the time, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. It kind of got the worst out of the way pretty swiftly and we were able to get on with our lives. So what if it happened again? I don’t think it did happen again after that actually, but it took the fear out of that situation.

Two and a half years on, Oswald is gone and my boyfriend has a fully functioning j pouch. I have always said to him that if something goes wrong down the line, I’d welcome Oswald back with open arms. That bag made our relationship rock solid from the start. We had to be open and honest with each other from the get go. I became my boyfriend’s emergency contact/next of kin for his surgeries fairly early in our relationship. It brought us together in lots of ways.

We will get married in a week’s time.


And here’s a note from her boyfriend:

This is a letter my girlfriend (now fiance) wrote to my ostomy (and associates) after I had a serious shit party in my car, (leak, I think it was in the car on my way to work) and was just a bit pissed off.

We named my ostomy ‘Oswald’ and in truth we thought of ‘him’ as a third person (I’m sure you would get that).

Our relationship with Oswald was a love/hate kind of thing. We loved him for helping me be alive (just a small thing really!) but we hated him for being an arsehole. To be honest, we loved him more than we hated him.

We got together after I had my ostomy. We had been good friends before, we got together. I was all sorts of nervous but we worked out. I know Patches has written you an email describing how it all went so I won’t double up here. I just want to say that I really think it’s definitely possible to to start a relationship, even with an ostomy (shock horror!). All you need is someone who understands and is loving. Bec has been the most amazing person. I will be forever indebted to her for the way she looked after me and treated me (even when I did shit the bed). Her sense of humour was infectious and only served to made me laugh. Constantly!

Yep there will be arseholes. There will always be arseholes out there, with or without an ostomy. I read somewhere before that an ostomy is like an arsehole filter. Keeps them arseholes away. So, I figure, if somebody is all weird and shit then they are just not for you (sometimes, they mightn’t be arseholes, just not educated or open minded enough).

More Adventures in Dating – Guest Post

I recently asked those who are dating someone with IBD/Ostomy/Jpouch (who started dating after their partner was diagnosed or had surgery) to write a guest post for me about why they didn’t run screaming when they found out about their IBD/Ostomy/Jpouch. I wanted the stories from the other side. Here is one that I got, if you’d like to share yours email me at Jackie@bloodpooptears.com.


holding_handsA couple of weeks ago, as I was preparing to head out of town for a work related trip, I noticed a post on the Girls With Guts Facebook page and wanted to respond. I did not respond at that time
for two reasons. The first reason being that I did not have time at that point to write my response as I needed to be driving out of town to get to my destination. The second reason was that I was not sure if it would have been proper for me to respond since I was newly introduced to the IBD and ostomy world.

First, let me explain who I am and how I am connected to Girls With Guts. I am the Vice President of a car club in my area and a couple of months ago a new member joined my club and we started talking and she has since become my girlfriend and stolen my heart. She means the world to me and I adore everything about her. But let me get back to the story at hand. As we were getting to know each other (and before we had actually met) I had become Facebook friends with her and saw her connection to Girls With Guts and ostomies. Not knowing anything about IBD or ostomies, I did some Google searching on my own to read up and learn more about it all and while I still do not know or understand it completely, it did give me a glimpse into what it was all about. It also did not in any way deter me from wanting to get to know this girl further and then pursuing a relationship with her.

That now brings me back to the original point I was making about this post that I saw on the Girls With Guts page. You see, it was a girl with an ostomy saying that she was having a selfimage issue and not feeling beautiful. I wanted to answer her back and let her know that real beauty cannot be hidden or taken away by anything on the outside. From the posts and pictures I have seen, you have many beautiful women and none of them should let an ostomy or anything else take away from that beauty. A real man (and yes I realize that this world does not have too many real men, but rather an over abundance of males) will see that beauty and not care about those things. I got into a relationship with my girlfriend already knowing a bit about her ostomy and some of what it entails, but it didn’t matter. The moment I first saw her she was beautiful to me. I feel in love with her and had a very physical attraction to her as well as a spiritual connection with her. To me, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world and I tell her so every chance I get.

So this quick little post was written in response to that post I saw on Girls With Guts. I wish I would have replied but missed that opportunity and told my girlfriend about it and that is when she told me that Jackie was looking for letters like this for her blog. I just want you women to know that you are beautiful and any man that judges or states otherwise is not worth your time or consideration. Do not even give him a second look and just keep your head held high and find a real man. They are out there and they will adore you and everything that makes up you.


More Adventures in Dating – Guest Post

RedGlassHeartIMI’ve been following Jackie’s blog for awhile now and after her recent post about dating with jpouch and the negative comments she received after it went live, I felt the need to step in and give my perspective on dating as a permanent ostomate.

From what I’ve seen and heard, many ostomates, male and female, are concerned about how others perceive them. We worry that our appliance can be detected under our clothes or that if people see our bags, say if we wear a swimsuit or something similar, then we’ll be labeled as “abnormal” or “gross.”  For those of us who are single and interested in dating, we have additional concerns: Will we be seen as unattractive? Will a prospective partner not want to have sex with us? Will dates be freaked out?

Speaking from my own experience, I have never once (that’s right, not a single time!) had a date or sexual partner react negatively to my ostomy. One guy knew I had one because of our mutual friend. When we became intimate, I asked him, “so you really don’t care that I have an ostomy?” and he responded, “why the hell would I care about that? You’re beautiful.” Another guy I met online and after a few dates I told him about my ostomy. His two questions? Would sex hurt my ostomy and did my vag still work. When telling another partner, he just held my hands and said “an ostomy isn’t who you are, it’s just a small part of you, and regardless, I want to know all of you.”

Maybe my experience is abnormal, I’m not sure. But I do know this: when I tell or talk to people about my ostomy, I come across with confidence. I don’t make a big deal out of it, mainly because I don’t see it as a big deal. Aside from the three people mentioned above, I’ve been on multiple dates with others whom I did not become sexually involved with, but who certainly tried their best to get in my pants – all the while knowing I have an ostomy.

I don’t know how other single ostomates tell dates or partners about their ostomy, but I like to keep my approach simple. Once I find an appropriate and casual segue into the conversation, I say something like this: “So I got really sick a few years back, have had some surgeries to make me better, and one of them saved my life. The result of that one is that I now have an ostomy. I don’t think it’s a big deal and neither should you, as it really doesn’t affect anything.” Most of the time my date won’t know what an ostomy is, so I tell them very briefly and will sometimes show it to them so that they can see what a small part of me it is. The typical response? “Is that it?” or “That’s all it is?”

I’m not trying to downplay the negative experiences of other ostomates in the dating world as I’ve heard stories of dates reacting poorly, but I do have to wonder how the topic is being talked about or explained and whether the ostomate is coming across as confident or insecure. Perhaps a few readers can chime in and detail their dating adventures instead of just attacking Jackie for not understanding the permanent ostomate’s experience since she has a j pouch? I’d be interested in understanding what other ostomates are going through….

My adventures in dating

So I’m dating. Well, I started dating. Let me rewind.

Dating is a HUGE topic in our community because there is a lot of fear around disclosure and acceptance. In the past I’ve written about dating and my opinions, but I have never actually dated since I was diagnosed with IBD. So all of my theories and advice were pure speculation, even though I still consider it solid advice.

So now I have legit experience in the dating-sphere, and I’d like to share it with you guys. I approached dating cautiously, after all the world is full of crazies. I haven’t actually dated…ever. I was in two very serious relationships for the last 13 years so not only is dating with IBD/jpouch scary, dating in general scared the literal shit out of me. I realize that I tend to talk about my butt to anyone and everyone who will listen, but I also realize that is not great first date conversation. Or at least that’s what I’ve read in forums and other blogs. Hell, I think that’s the advice that I gave in the past.

Here is what I realized…I can’t not talk about my butt. First dates, and even the predating period, it took me a matter of days, if not hours to spill the details on my defunct digestive system. I literally can not stop talking about my butt, and my blog and Girls With Guts. If this was the test, I failed with flying colors. Even if I wanted to hide my history,  if just for a few dates, I can’t. My name and face is plastered all of the internet with “butt disease” slapped right next to it. I have positioned myself in a place where my future beau can read details about how I poop, see my fat face pictures, and view graphic photos of my body when it was at its worst. This is my life, there is no hiding it, there is no going back. I get that is scary for potential suitors, but whelp, this is me.

But you know what…not one of the guys I was talking with cared. In fact, many of them talked with me about their own health ailments and it made me realize a few things about the world. First, that many of us are all giant health disasters, and also that people like and fall in love with the person, not their medical records. I’m sure there are people out there who might run screaming from me on a first date, but frankly, I never found that guy. Not once.

In fact, I found the opposite. I have found someone who cares about me because of what I’ve done with the hand I was dealt. Someone who understands and can relate. Someone who I think is really great, and who thinks that the sun shines out of my ass. Actually, I’m going to ask him to guest post so he can tell you himself what he thought when he met me, learned about my butt disease, and MS and why he didn’t run screaming.

So don’t let IBD scare you away from dating. There a million reasons why someone can like you, or not like you, and frankly IBD is probably not one of them.

Eatin' Paleo

Totally realistic image of a cavewoman
Totally realistic image of a cavewoman

I made the choice about 2 weeks ago to switch to a Paleo diet. Since diet is such a common topic among my Butt Buddies I figured I’d let you in on what I’ve been doing. So here are the basics.

What is Paleo?

Paleo is also known as the “caveman” diet which basically means you only eat things that cavemen could have eaten in their time. Seem rudimentary doesn’t it? Trust me there is no pointing and grunting involved and if you’ve ever tried eating Gluten Free its very similar.

Here are the very very basic cliffsnotes:

Good:

Meat

Nuts

Veggies

Fruits

As organic as you can get. All those hippie terms are now your BFF.

Things that are organic, locally grown, grass-fed, free range, no GMO, ect.

Bad:

Dairy (except eggs)

Grains (ALL grains)

Legumes (peanuts, and chickpeas, ect)

Sugar

Fried food/fast food

Processed foods

OR you can use this fancy info graphic to help you make your choices. (Click to view larger)

 

Paleo-Infographic

So that’s it pretty much. Now go and stuff your face with meats and veggies. Well initially this sounds awful and quite frankly scary from an IBD standpoint. The basic theory on the Paleo diet (or lifestyle I prefer to use, because “diet” insinuates that its temporary), is that when cavemen were bee boppin’ around, humans didn’t discover agriculture yet, and because of that we didn’t eat grains. Actually grains are pretty difficult for out bodies to digest, those of you who are GF already know this. And grains are one of the more processed things that we eat daily, and things we are lead to believe are “good” for us. The reality is a single piece of bread is very processed, and most grains honestly do not hold much nutritional value. Sure there is the whole grain argument, but I’m not here to argue, I’m just explaining Paleo.

Why can’t I eat peanuts?

You are free to eat nuts, as long as they are not processed. So that means no roasted nuts, unless you’re fancy and roast them yourself. That means no salted cocktail nuts. That means no peanut butter. Wait…why not peanuts? Because peanuts are Legumes, not nuts silly.

Why not dairy?

Again, cave folk didn’t use dairy products. Hence neither do Paleo lifestyle people.

Ok so what CAN I eat?

You can eat as much meat and veggies as you want. Some fruit but be careful because it has a lot of natural sugar. You can eat eggs, and I eat a lot of them. They key is eating the cleanest food you can. The real complaint about Paleo is the money. Grass fed beef and free range chicken are pricey. Organic fruits and veggies are expensive. But I had this epiphany the other day where I realized that I’m willing spend a boat load of money on fun, and material things (I use the term “boatload” loosely), but not on what I feed myself. What the hell is wrong with me?  This is a personal choice, but after what my body did, and the great comeback it made, I’ve chosen to reward it with eating the cleanest food I can find, even if it costs me a damn fortune. My body has 1,000 reasons to fail and crumble, and I won’t let the food I eat be one of them. Also baked goods and deserts are not out. You can use almond flour, or coconut flower for a lot of baking needs. Frankly I cook a lot more, and I have eaten some delicious stuff.

How the hell am I supposed to eat so many veggies? I have a butt disease.

This is going to be the deal breaker for a lot of people. I can already notice that with my increase in vegetable intake that my bowel movements are different. Many are thicker, which makes pooping a little more difficult, but frankly has slowed down my system enough and its kind of nice. And its all about the veggies you can eat. If you can’t do celery, do freaking eat celery. I roast a lot of them, cook them in a pan, ect. I do not eat most of them raw. When I notice things are not moving as nice as I’d like, I use some apple juice to get things moving. I’m only 2 weeks in, but its going well. I slowly transitioned and that helped my system adjust. I’m still having a hard time breaking up with sugar, and I still crave it a lot but I have found a piece of fruit or a small amount of organic fruit juice helps to quench the craving and then its gone.

So how do you feel?

I think it’s really too early to actually say. I’m still fighting sugar cravings but they are lessening. It could be coincidence but I have slept much better the last few days, and I swear I have more energy. I don’t ever feel like I’m dragging ass anymore. When I wake up in the morning, it never feels like a bus hit me anymore. My stomach and intestine have adjusted quite nicely, and nothing I have eaten has given me any issues. I eat meat, veggies and fruit all day now. I eat nuts a lot too but I make sure to CHEW CHEW CHEW. A single nut at a time until it’s a paste. And I’ve lost 2 lbs.

What else do I need to know?

Are you working out at all? If you’re going to do Paleo you need to be doing some kind of activity, because all the protein you’re stuffing into your body will just sit there and turn to fat if you’re not working it out. If you are, it will help turn it into lean muscle and also to help burn fat.  What I like most about Paleo is that you can customize it to work in your life. If you wanna be crazy Paleo person you can follow the diet exactly and maybe go a little nuts along the way. For me, I do it as best as I can, and know that there are some vices I won’t give up. I like to drink Cider (Angry Orchard, or Strongbow). AO is Gluten Free but its still got a boatload of sugar….every once in a while. I”m ok with that. I lightly salted my roasted veggies with kosher salt. Some people can’t give up cheese. Some people can’t give up diet Coke. Thats fine. The goal is not to make you miserable, its to make your life healthier and if 95% of what you eat is good, clean food its probably an improvement from what you eat now. Frankly, giving up a lot of the grains and things hasn’t been that hard. Sure, I love me some pasta covered in cheese, but I can live without it and it doesn’t make me sad, but you better believe when my Mom makes an apple pie I’m eating it. And then I’m going to the gym. Also when it comes to eating “clean” meats, I have learned it’s not only that they are expensive but they are hard to find. If you can’t find it, or can’t afford it, its ok to buy meat from Kroger. Again the goal is to eat as clean as possible, whatever “possible” means for you.

Also it really works for me because it lets me eat when I want and as much as I want. Its not horrible to skip meals, and it doesn’t mean tiny portions. It means if I don’t eat lunch, fine, who cares. A lot of the food can be pre-made, and frozen, so all you have to do is thaw it and then stuff your face which works well for me. I pre-cook a lot of meals and then I don’t have to worry about “whats for dinner”.

Here is another info graphic with some more info:

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Eating-Paleo

 

The CCFA Ad Campaign: Ain't No Party Like A Butt Hurt Party

Adco-popupAs usual, I’m about 3 weeks late to this party. I tend to avoid controversy while its happening, and then right when you think its over and everyone has forgotten…BAM. Here I am all, “I have an opinion and I’m sure its going to piss you off”. You all know what I’m talking about, right? The CCFA ad campaign.

I’m not going to be delicate with this one.

I don’t understand what everyone is all butt hurt about. Period. Its as simple as that. Don’t we have anything better to do than bitch about the first ever IBD awareness campaign? This all goes back to my theory and post about Invisible Awareness week. This is marketing….real marketing. Perhaps its just because I am a marketing professional but I understand this campaign. I’ve seen many people say that this trivializes IBD. People asking “Why aren’t they showing what its REALLY like to have IBD?”

Well…here’s why:  Its scary.

If you want any kind of response from the masses you can’t scare them. Think about other large disease awareness campaigns, like Cancer and AIDS. Do they show you people literally dying in hospital beds? No. Why? Because its fucking scary. Commercials for St. Judes, show kids with cancer…in the hospital but happy and smiling. Laughing and hugging cuddly teddy bears. If they showed kids post their chemo treatments, when they are sick and puking their guts out do you think people would be receptive? No.

Do you think the families of those children are upset that the “real” side of cancer isn’t being shown? Hell no. They are happy to get donations to St. Jude to help them care for their children. Lets talk about those commercials that ask you to donate your money to the starving, sick kids in Africa or wherever. They give you a sob story about children that can’t afford food or clothes, and who have no parents or education. They show you sad, adorable children. Do they show you the reality? Children emaciated and literally dying in the streets? Do they show violence over limited food supplies? No. Why? Its scary.

The point of the campaign from the CCFA was to raise awareness. Every ad had the letters “IBD” on it and if nothing else its getting that term to the masses. And quite frankly, everyone pissing and moaning about it, just raised more awareness for IBD because your blog posts, and reposts of those photos just make the terms show up more in Google. Perhaps behind the scenes, they were hoping this campaign would be controversial. Controversy raises conversation, and conversation raises awareness.

Think about this campaign as a first step. It is step one to telling the world about IBD and telling our stories. You can’t scare the world or else they won’t listen, won’t donate, and won’t give a crap. I asked a few people I know who don’t have IBD what they thought about the ads, because everyone keeps saying “People will think that this disease revolves around the bathroom” (News flash: It does). Well the first person I asked, said, and I quote,” I don’t get it, so those people have IBD?”

I think we’re all a little sensitive to the whole “being tied to the toilet” thing, and as a result we think that everyone else must think that IBD is a toilet disease. That’s why I tell my story and why you should too. Talk about it…tell people what its like. Why does it seem like this is one of those “I can make fun of my sister but you can’t” things? In the IBD community we make butt/toilet jokes all the time. We do it because its funny, and because its a coping mechanism. I learned to laugh at this a long time ago…but here’s the thing. The ads don’t make me laugh. They aren’t funny. No one is making fun of us or trivializing anything. Why can we talk about our realities (being stuck in a stall) but no one else can? And if you say because people will just think its the same as IBS then I’ll drop kick you in the face because I have NO Idea how anyone can deduce that from these ads. “IBD” is written all over them, and the info on the bottom gives more info about IBD. I have no clue where the hell IBS comes into this, and I think its just another reason for people to complain about things they can’t control. Was every IBDer consulted on these ads? Nope. Should they have been? Nope. Why? Because you can’t please everyone.

Do you really think that a full account of what IBD is like can be depicted in an 8×10 printed ad? If so, make one. Hell, I’ll fund it and shop it out to ad agencies if you think you can accomplish the following:

  •  A non-threatening or scary account of life with IBD
  • Information/stats/facts about IBD and what it can really do to your body
  • Images depicting IBD in a non-offensive manner and in a way that won’t embarass patients or viewers of the ad
  • Resources for those who have IBD
  • Individual stories about how it affects people differently
  • Information about how IBD can affect your mental state in addition to your physical state
  • A list of all other ways IBD can affect your body
  • Information about PICC lines, TPN, NG tubes, surgery, ostomies, and JP drains
  • A list of all the side effects of the medication

 Gee that sounds like an awful lot, right? This is a list that I complied from those who are complaining about these ads. I’m telling you right now, its impossible. You cannot fit all of that into a single marketing campaign. Since you can’t, does that mean we shouldn’t market IBD at all?

With all due respect…fuck no. I want people to know about my disease. I want them to know its name. I want them to know that it DOES involve a bathroom so when students in a classroom bolt out the door, their teachers don’t punish them. I want people to know that IBD can alter a life. To me…that is a good starting point and these campaign do exactly that.

The NEXT ad campaign perhaps can give more information. Yes…I said the NEXT one because I’m hoping this is the beginning of many campaigns, campaigns that will make IBD a household name and one that will no longer keep us in hiding. So that we can Escape The Stall…whatever your stall may be.

I think that the CCFA took a risk on this campaign and I think it was worth it, and if you don’t like….fund your own damn campaign or find someone to do it pro-bono. Go find your own celebrity with IBD and have them jump on board to be your spokesperson because that is what awareness takes unfortunately.  You have to make your disease sexy. Right now IBD is not a designer disease…but with this campaign it can be. That sounds shitty, right? Well that’s marketing people.

I know many people feel like this campaign depicts our disease in a negative light. Whelp….get over yourself. Period. This campaign is not about you and its not about me. Why? Because it affects us all differently, so one blanket campaign is not going to tell your story or mine. Its a collective voice just telling the world that IBD exists and a lot of different kinds of people live with it.

I’m glad that they took a risk, and put these ads out there. All that I see with these ads is a chance for conversation. A chance to talk about it, share your story, and raise awareness. Whether you like the ads or not, they have done exactly that.

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