Coping | IBD
Kate Gambs Knickerbocker here. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in the Fall of 2012. I’m a part-time ESL & English professor at a community college and am a divorced Mom of two stellar and adorable kiddos.
After my diagnosis, I started infusions of a biologic drug, and started to go to my local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s (CCF) support group meetings. A year after my diagnosis, my (then) husband said he wanted a divorce. That turned into a rough year, with both having to switch my medications around, and to move house with my then-toddler and kindergartener, and cope with my new identity as a single mom. I was on Prednisone for weeks at a time when I had flares over that year and the following, and gained some weight- a lot of us can likely relate! I also was diagnosed with carcinoma in situ of my cervix, but thankfully had successful surgery to remove that.
The last two years have been much easier for me. I started Entyvio (my third biologic), which has been really wonderful for my gut, and also got into the new routine of being a single mom, teaching part-time, and meeting more friends with IBD. Each year since my diagnosis, I have participated in a Team Challenge (TC) half-marathon, and feel so grateful to have met so many inspiring people through training! I met one of my very best friends through TC and the CCF, and we have gone to two Girls with Guts retreats, which have been truly soul-affirming. It’s really heartwarming to have someone who knows what you’re going through, who you can vent to- and giggle with- about all of the trials and awkward situations IBD brings. Many of family and friends live close by, and being able to rely on them in times of need has me thanking my lucky stars. Even though I definitely have my “why me?” moments, I also am so gratified to have both online communities and face-to-face meetings via support groups and friendships. My kids and I got a puppy almost 3 years ago, and he has been a fabulous addition to our family. Having to get up and take him for walks does motivate me on my off days, and having a furry friend to snuggle with lifts my spirits!
I’m sure I echo other IBDers’ thoughts when I say one of the things that can help people understand this disease is that everyone’s journey is unique. Some may be able to have a brownie when they’re feeling down, while others may shudder at the prospect of eating chocolate. Some may be able to take a more holistic approach and cope with acupuncture and herbal supplements alone, but some may have tried that and now be reliant on (and very grateful for) pharmaceutical medications. And what once worked for months at a time for us can suddenly and inexplicably stop working. So have patience with us- we want to feel as good as possible and can get grouchy when we aren’t. Asking how you can help, rather than pushing something that you think may work for us, is a truly compassionate gift.