Since I was finally diagnosed with grade four ulcerative colitis only a year ago to this date, I have been trying to come up with ways that I can help others that struggle, fight, suffer and survive like I did and do. I started volunteering with the CCFA, I write on twitter, facebook, even started this blog. I always knew that there was something more that I was meant to do. That I could do.
I love to write and always have. Since I was in high school journalism has been a big part of my life. I have always known that I would pursue a career that involved writing or reporting. I was the opinion editor for my high school newspaper. I began college at Otterbein College with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, which eventually changed to public relations. I have always had a natural passion for writing and expressing myself. I have been told that I am a good writer and that I shouldn’t let that go to waste.
Through my experiences over the past 2 years, I have learned more about myself than I ever intended too by the age of 24. I know that everything happens for a reason and that you are not given what you cannot handle. I have been repeating in my head that there has to be a reason for all of this pain and sickness. That I wasn’t just given this to sit around and feel sorry for myself.
When I was first diagnosed, I felt so alone. I had no idea what UC was and my first GI doctor was so unapproachable and didn’t seem to care about me on a personal level. He gave me a quick UC diagnosis, failed mutliple times to find parasites that had been in my stomach and GI tract for over 6 months and then misdiagnosed me at least 3 times more times. Put me on medicine to then take me off again over and over. Told me that the parasites I contracted were from the bar I worked at and not from the Dominican Republic I had just visited less than 3 months before meeting him for the first time. He threw brochures at me, told me it was no big deal.
By the time it was a big deal it was too late. My colon was absolutely destroyed. My new GI doctor told me I had the worst case of UC he had ever seen in his over 20 years of practice. After a year and a half of trying everything, fighting for my colon every single day and never seeing a second of remission, I finally lost my colon this past July. It wasn’t until then that I started reading others stories, realizing that others have gone through such similar, if not worse situations than what I have been through.
After I had my colon removed, I once again experienced that alone feeling. I began really writing my blog, because I felt the only way to properly express the way I felt was through what I was always so good at, writing.
Through other blogs, stories and social media I have found friends, a new support system, foundations and so many people. Those people helped me to realize that I am not alone and never will be. I was driving in my car about a month ago when I thought, “I should help others with IBD feel like they have a support system they can have access too easily.” I immediately began thinking of a class I took while at Otterbein that was difficult, but that I loved. In the class we created a newsletter on a design program about ourselves. I remembered being so proud of my finished product. I came up with the concept of a magazine that could help those living with and around IBD. A publication that they could turn to when they feel confused and like no one else understand. A place where people can share their personal stories, struggles, tips, lifestyle changes, medical or holistic discoveries, diet and recipes, the list could go on forever. If I would have had something like this when I was first diagnosed, when I found out I was losing my colon, I would have felt so much better.
My goal for Companion Magazine is to help those who feel lost in their pain to have somewhere and someone to lean on. To be able to read stories and feel inspired and motivated to beat their disease. I love the feeling I get when I read a story that is so relatable to me. I feel like that person understands me even if they don’t know a thing about my existence.
This magazine isn’t just about or for me. It is about and for everyone that has witnessed IBD. I want to hear everyone’s stories, see pictures and I want to inform and create awareness about topics that will help everyone in the IBD community to feel connected. I feel that this is the best way for me to help others. This is my outlet for sharing and inspiring.
I am currently working on the first issue of Companion Magazine. I hope to have the website up by the beginning of next week. Currently, there is a twitter, facebook and email address where you can begin sharing with us. Don’t hesitate because you are embarrassed about your symptoms. If you feel more comfortable staying anonymous, then that is completely understandable. Help me help others!
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