I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis on December 23, 2009—a day my life changed forever. I went from a healthy and active 14-year-old to a teen with some very concerning symptoms: frequent and sudden onsets of stomach pain, exhaustion and the constant urge to use the bathroom. The diagnosis of a blistered, swollen, large intestine was both a relief and an added stressor.
But my diagnosis was just the beginning of my journey.
Growing up in Orlando, Florida, I participated in typical childhood activities and was what you would consider to be a “normal” kid.
But I was dealing with chronic, excruciating abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloody stools. At age 10, doctors diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease.
I went from one hospital visit to another and was prescribed various pills, injections and infusions, all of which failed at some point.
During high school, I was embarrassed to discuss my disease. Very few of my teachers and friends knew I had Crohn’s. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to manage school assignments, participate in athletics and still have a social life.
Written by Kitty O’Hare, MD, coordinator of Transition Medicine at Martha Eliot Health Center
It’s late summer and the back-to-school sales dominate the stores. In my office there is a sudden flurry of activity from students hurrying to get sports physicals and vaccines before heading off to college. Everyone is nervous about their new roommates, their class schedules and whether they will be homesick. But for some of my patients, going to college is especially nerve-wracking because it will be their first time living away from home with a chronic disease. …
I’ve always known my parents would forever see me as their baby. And being their little girl, I knew that it would be hard for them to watch me leave for college to live in a dorm, all by myself. I appreciate their concerns and love, but it didn’t change the fact that after high school I was ready to be on my own. As a kid with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (O.I.), a brittle bones condition, I could not wait to get out from their protective bubble, which I had lived inside of for 18 years. …