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For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Mandy Morgan, and I’m the secretary of Girls With Guts. I got started with Girls With Guts a few years ago by blogging. I then found myself on the Board of Directors in the Director of Content position, and then moved up to Secretary.

I was officially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2013, but had complications since 2009 that I chose to ignore for a good four years. Real smart. Anywho, for IBD Awareness Week, I wanted to share more of my story with you all.

Back to school

I was diagnosed in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. In 2013, I started my first year of graduate school in Springfield, Missouri. I knew that I needed to find a good gastroenterologist in Springfield, since a majority of my time would be spent there, and I had no plans to go back to St. Louis in the summer between my first and second year of grad school. I found one gastroenterologist, and was told that I could basically eat and drink and do whatever I wanted. Not really the best advice. I spent a lot of days between work and class, lying on my couch in pain.

And then, during the spring semester of graduate school, I applied for an internship in Chicago, and I got the internship. The last thing on my mind was finding a GI in Chicago, much less how my UC would react to the stress of the move.

Off to the Windy City

I made my way up to Chicago with the help of my mom and dad. I was so excited to have landed a job at my dream company, at the time, and in my dream city. But, there was this consistent nagging of my UC and wondering what I was going to do. I figured that I would be fine for a summer. No harm, no foul. But, after a month into my internship, I received a full-time offer. I didn’t hesitate – I accepted almost immediately.

Finding a GI

Throughout this craziness of uprooting my life from Springfield, moving everything to a city where I didn’t know a single soul, and then trying to tackle graduate school, writing a thesis, a full-time job, and somehow I picked up roller derby in all of this, my UC took a back seat. I wasn’t taking the best care of myself, but I felt alright. I was exhausted, but who wouldn’t be with that much stacked on their plate?

It wasn’t until a few months after being settled that I started having major, debilitating symptoms. And I went for the first GI that had an opening.

I took on this GI doctor I had found, really by accident, and our relationship wasn’t great. He made me feel uncomfortable every time I went to see him, and his nurses always found a way to make me feel stupid. I dreaded going to see him, which then made me dread taking care of myself or running out of a prescription.

When my hair started falling out, he didn’t do much to give me any confidence that we could correct it. When I started having extreme heartburn, he told me that I probably had to get my gallbladder removed. When I started experiencing pain with sex, he told me it was probably the result of my now fiance cheating on me and that I probably had an STI. None of this was true or accurate.

I broke it off with this hot shot Chicago GI. And I sat down and did my research instead. I looked at all the various intestinal health departments that were covered under my insurance. I read reviews on GI doctors, and I wrote a list of what was important to me. After three years of living in Chicago, I finally found my GI home. I found a wonderful GI doctor who is compassionate, sweet, and gives me advice whenever I need it. She makes me feel human and important. As a GI doctor should.

The lesson

Where am I going with all of this? To right here: moving is difficult, but moving with IBD isn’t impossible. Don’t pull a “Mandy” and settle for a piss-poor doctor who makes you feel like garbage. If I could do it all over again, I would’ve:


  1. Research the GI situation before moving.
  2. Narrow a list of three doctors to “date” and determine if we were a good fit or not.
  3. Take my charts and medical records from my past GI doctors to show to my new doctor.
  4. Advocate for myself early and often.

Simply put: Midwest Mannered.

Mandy was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and her Midwestern roots have followed her ever since. She was diagnosed with left-sided ulcerative colitis in 2013, after having complications since 2009. Mandy studied technical communication at Missouri State University, receiving both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Afterward, keeping true to the Midwest, she moved up to Chicago, bringing her love for STL-style pizza and baseball along with her.

Starting as a blogger for Girls with Guts, Mandy became hooked on the organization, and all the positivity, friendship, and support Girls with Guts has provided. She strives to keep that mission going.


Elizabeth’s story: Reconciling life with IBD and being the “Best Mom Ever” Alicia’s IBD Awareness Week Advice: Trust your journey.

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