On June 5, 2016 Collingwood will be hosting its first ever Gutsy Walk. You may be asking yourself, "what is a Gutsy Walk?". Well, the Gutsy Walk is a fundraiser held by the Crohn's and Colitis Society of Canada. Now you may be asking yourself "what is Crohn's or Colitis?". Crohn's and Colitis fall under the category of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) and affect 1 in 150 Canadians. People suffering from these diseases experience pain, extreme fatigue, sometimes multiple surgeries and unfortunately miss out on many of life's greatest moments. My name is Lindsay Hutten, I am 24 years old and I have Ulcerative Colitis. I am going to share with you my journey with the disease to hopefully bring some awareness to what life is like as a person suffering with IBD.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) at the age of 18. When symptoms began I had no idea what was happening to me. I was tired all the time. I had to nap at least once a day. As time went on I started feeling nauseous and was experiencing a lot of stomach cramping. Initially I thought it was just a stomach bug and so I didn't do or say much about it. Then came the diarrhea. It was constant and when I started seeing blood fill the toilet I knew something was wrong. I called my mom and she took me to the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. They ran some tests, did a colonoscopy and determined that I had UC. After my initial diagnosis I responded fairly well to the medications they gave me. At this time my UC was considered mild and after adjusting my diet slightly I was able to function normally again. My UC went into remission and life went on.
A few years later I found myself studying at Mohawk College in Hamilton studying to become and RPN (Registered Practical Nurse). Around Christmas time of my first year my colitis started acting up again. I came home and my family went to Barrie to go Christmas shopping. I could barely walk from one store to the next I was so weak. That Christmas I spent most of my time laying on the couch and eating soup broth. This is not exactly ideal while everyone else is digging into a delicious Christmas dinner right in front of you. However, with a slight medication adjustment I was able to head back to school and finish my studies.
After graduating from nursing I began working at a nursing home here in town. While working there my colitis began to flare up again. But being the stubborn person that I am I suffered in silence. I thought to myself "this is my life now and I need to just deal with it". Not long after I began work at the nursing home I got offered a job in the hospital in Brantford. It was in the Cardiology unit which was an area I was really excited to work in. So, I packed my things and moved to Hamilton and began my job in January of 2015.
Then things started to get really bad. At the time I really had no idea how sick I really was. On the days that I wasn't working I had no energy. I would work hard during my shift and absolutely crash on my days off. On top of the exhaustion I was running to the bathroom around 15 times a day, sometimes even more. As you can imagine it is pretty difficult to live a normal life when so much of it is spent on the toilet. I found myself having to bring extra changes of clothes to work because there were many times that I just couldn't make it to the bathroom in time. Imagine being 23 years old and having to worry about having an accident at work. This should never be the case. Eventually, I called my family doctor here in Collingwood and he suggested that I come home to my parent's house and take some time off work.
After spending a week with my parents they took me to see my specialist who was located in Hamilton. Since then I have had multiple hospital stays, blood transfusions, infections, iron infusions, lost way too much weight and spent a lot of time missing out on life. I eventually had to quit my job in Brantford and move back with my parents full time.
For quite a while doctors could not find a medication that would keep my UC in remission. This meant that I was kept on a high dose of steroids for a long period of time. My specialist has done everything he can to prevent surgery for me and I am now on a medication that is fairly new in Canada. I am off steroids, however I am still unable to work as my UC still refuses to go into remission. Surgery to remove my colon is still a very real possibility. That being said I am better than I was. I can at least function in daily life. I can go to the grocery store, I can ride in the car for more than 20 minutes without having to pull over and go to the bathroom on the side of the road. But I still can't live the life that a 24 year old should be able to.
Unless you know someone with Crohn's or Colitis you wouldn't understand the struggle. You wouldn't understand how I can't go for a walk downtown on a nice summer night because there isnâ€™t anywhere for me to run into a washroom when I desperately need it. You wouldn't understand the panic that comes over you when a business owner says you can't use their washroom and you need it now. You wouldn't understand the frustration you feel when everyone you know is going to the beach and you canâ€™t go because the walk to the washroom is too far for you to make it in time. You wouldn't understand how much it hurts you to always have to say no, when all you want to do is to be able to say yes.
I hope this glimpse into my life has helped you to understand what life with IBD is like. I hope now that we will all be a little bit more sympathetic and compassionate to others suffering like this. Please consider supporting this cause. Ulcerative Colitis has changed my life, but I am only one person. So many others suffer in silence. Please help us to raise awareness and funds to help eliminate IBD and allow so many people to start living again.
If you are interested in walking in the Gutsy Walk register yourself or your team at our website.
If you are unable to walk but would like to volunteer or just want more information email our team leader.
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