Living with Moderate Ulcerative Colitis – My Story

If you’re reading this you’re either curious, effected by UC (the short way of saying Ulcerative Colitis), or know someone that’s effected by UC. Any of these reasons are ok. Not everyone wants to hear about it. Not a lot of people even know what it is. The truth is, talking about Ulcerative Colitis is not a glamorous topic. It involves talk about managing not curing which is not always appealing to the sufferer or a loved one. It involves bathroom talk which ….let’s face it, not a lot of people want to hear. It involves having to plan every outing, just-in-case. It involves figuring out how to deal with people when the ask “what’s wrong?” but don’t actually want to hear about what’s wrong.

When I First Started Realizing Something Wasn’t Right

I started my path to my ulcerative colitis diagnosis roughly 10 years go. This is where I talk about things that people don’t want to hear. After the birth of my youngest son I started noticing I was getting “gassy” a lot. I constantly felt bloated. I started taking things like Gas-X , Pepto-Bismal and trying to change my diet a bit, but it didn’t help. I noticed I was having more need to excuse myself to the restroom. Even when I did, the relief was only temporary. I started to become uncomfortable in a lot of situations not knowing about what would happen. I was afraid of putting myself in embarrassing situations so I’d shy away from things. After about a year or so of dealing with it, I finally decided to see a GI doctor.

My First GI Doctor Visit

The doctor was nice. He seemed to listen to me. He decided to do a colonoscopy. Honestly the prep was the worst part. I did a follow up visit after the test. Basically he said that he didn’t see anything unusual except maybe some mild inflammation. He gave me some pills that I don’t even remember the name of anymore. I took them for a couple months but they didn’t help. If anything, they made me feel more bloated. I told him this and he told me I didn’t have to take them anymore. It was disheartening to hear that he really didn’t have an answer.

I felt like the pills were just thrown at me because there was no other answer. I wasn’t real confident in going back to see this particular GI doctor so I just didn’t. I tried to manage my symptoms myself. Cutting back on carbonated drinks. Virtually eliminating spicy foods. Staying away from greasy foods. Continuing to take things for bloating and indigestion. Eventually my symptoms got worse.

My Symptoms Started Escalating

I was not having diarrhea along with the bloating, and gas. I was also starting to get abdominal cramps and discomfort in my left side. Still I tried to manage it myself. Trying calming teas meant for digestive health. Drinking more water. Now taking anti-diarrheal medications as a daily med just to make it through my work days and other obligations. So I started asking around about GI doctors. I finally got a recommendation that seemed trust-worthy. I called and made an appointment.

About a week or two before this appointment with the new GI doctor though something happened. I was standing at my sink doing dishes when I got terrible abdominal cramps. They hurt to the point that I couldn’t stand up straight. I sat down in my computer chair in the dining room. I had a strong urge to use the bathroom. I ran upstairs as quickly as I could. But I didn’t make it. I was horrified, how could I have not made it. Until I actually got into the bathroom. I realized I didn’t “have an accident” I was bleeding. It was a lot of blood in my pants and still more in the toilet. I called my dad to come watch my kids so I could go to the emergency room. My husband was at work.

They did a test and confirmed I was bleeding “from that area” and they told me to make sure i keep my appointment with my GI doctor.

THE Diagnosis

So I meet with the doctor. I seem to have a lot more confidence in him. He also schedules a colonoscopy along with a couple other tests. When I woke from the colonoscopy I was still back in the testing room. The nurse told me “Yea there’s definitely something there. You’re fire engine red” So they wheel me back out to a cubicle area where my husband is waiting and the doctor tells us I have ulcerative colitis. It was evident in the colonoscopy. I honestly felt some relief. At least I knew what was wrong with me and we could start treating it. I had high hopes of feeling better soon.

My Disease Progression

I started taking a pill. It began with an “A” I can’t even remember anymore. It helped for a while. After about a year though, it seemed like it wasn’t helping as much. I was having flair-ups. Bleeding, cramps, pain, frequent bathroom visits, etc. So he doubles my dosage. Again, I feel pretty good for a few months, ok for several more months, then eventually it felt like it wasn’t working again. So my doctor moves me up to the next “tier” of drugs. A stronger drug. It requires me to get my blood drawn every so many months. Again worked great for a year, stopped working doubled dosage, yada yada yada. Until now where I was again moved up to the next tier of drugs. I need to give myself a shot every other week. Routine blood work is required again. This one has a risk of causing liver cirrhosis which is why the blood work is necessary. After using that for so long….you guessed it, it seemed like it wasn’t working as well so increased it to weekly shots. When that didn’t work infusions were suggested. I’ve yet to jump on that train though.

Daily Life

I have 4 kids, I work part-time in a hospital. I’m only 39 years old. I’m not stopping. I can’t stop, I won’t stop. Anti-diarrheal is a daily medication for me. Humira shots weekly. Gas-X or something similar occasionally. Always mapping out and planning for restroom visits or the day that “I just don’t make it”. I keep a change of pants, underwear, and a pad in my car. I’m always reading about the newest treatments and progress with Ulcerative Colitis treatment. I’m always considering looking at a new doctor or even alternative treatments. I’m hoping for something to help to avoid surgery or ostomies in the future.

Standing in line at the pharmacy is almost impossible. I’m grateful for mail delivered shots. I’m thankful for public restrooms along my commute to work. I’m thankful for generic anti-diarrheal meds at Walmart. I’m thankful I have an understanding husband. A deciding factor upon going somewhere is if I’ll have access to a bathroom.

My Hopes and My Helps

I’ve realized over the years that, people that aren’t effected by UC in some way really don’t want to hear about it. So it can be hard. People don’t understand why you seem flaky about going out or need to cancel because of a flare up or a bad day. There are several resources and communities out there though.

The Crohns and Colitis Foundation has both support groups and an online community. I’ve found the online community helpful in talking and asking questions to other people dealing with the same issues.

It’s hopeful to see some of the new treatments, new research, and new break through with the treatment of Crohn’s and Colitis.

Educating yourself is half the battle. Preparation is the other half. It’s possible to keep on living your life the way you want to. Maybe you just have to make some adjustments.

If you’re just figuring all this out yourself here’s some things that helped me.

  • Stick to trustworthy sites like Crohn’s and Colitis foundation, Mayo clinic, and other trustworthy medical sites. It helps to seek out other sufferers online via blogs, social media, and online forums like the one on the Crohns and Colitis foundation site.
  • Keep a food log. There are some foods you’ll find you just can’t eat anymore if you don’t want to suffer the consequences. As much as I love popcorn and corn on the cob I know I have to abstain from it lest I pay for it the next day.
  • Talk to your GI doctor, dieticians, other dealing with Ulcerative Colitis, and your pharmacist.
  • It’s ok to try other things in addition to your regular treatment. You may find that a certain diet may help you. Maybe a certain tea seems to help. If you want to try some alternative thing like accupressure, massage, etc most time it won’t hurt. I’ve personally been reading about research with CBD.

This is a journey. What may work wonders for one person may not work for the next. It’s easy to get frustrated but keep educating yourself . Eventually you’ll learn what helps and what doesn’t help for your body.


ShopHer Media Make Influencer Marketing Easy

This post is brought to you by ShopHer Media. Any opinions expressed are my own.

We’re getting closer to the holidays.  Who couldn’t use a little extra money?  ShopHer Media can  help you earn in a lot of different ways. Depending on what works for you.

One of my favorite things is the CPC links they email several times a week with your affiliate ID already incorporated. All you have to do is copy the link and share.  You get 5 cents per click for sharing great deals, coupons, sweepstakes, and more.  You can even create link to the pages on My Savings that you know would be of interest to YOUR readership.

Besides CPC links ShopHer Media has affiliate banners for different partners, sponsored posts (like this one) and more!  ShopHer Media make Influencer Marketing super easy!  If you’re a business looking to get noticed by a whole network of bloggers and website owners, the make Influencer Marketing easy for you too!

You can share on your blog, social media channels, and emails where allowed but each campaigns lets you know what you can do. Bloggers and website owners can sign up for ShopHer Media HERE

Businesses, you can have a whole network of bloggers advertising for you through ShopHer Media too!

 


Women Entrepreneurs Inspire Me As a Blogger

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

I’ve told a few people in my life that I’ve always wanted to create something with my own hands and turn it into a way to provide for my family. I never really knew what that was until I started blogging.  I do make a little side income from my blog but nothing to quit my day job over.

There are opportunities I’ve been offered in the past that I really wish I would have been able to take advantage of.  At one point I was asked to sit on a women’s panel in Pittsburgh, PA for a women’s entrepreneur event. As much as I would have loved to I just couldn’t make it happen with having small children and my hubby working 2nd shifts.  I think it would have got my name out there and added something to put on my blogging resume.  On a side note, I do have a fear of public speaking.

It’s amazing that I do have these offers and opportunities though.  I’ve had experiences I never thought I’d have when I started this blog.  I’ve learned so much and have met some awesome people.  It’s totally worth the work, criticism, and deadlines.  I’ve been able to add to our income for a family of 6. When you have 4 kids extra income is always good.

I look at women entrepreneurs like Chrissy Weems, founder of Origami Owl.  The story of how she started her business could be any mother’s story.  When I read stories like hers as a mother of 4 it gives me a renewed sense of motivation. Though we never know the full story behind everyone’s success. All the trials and errors, all the late nights, maybe they had money to be able to start a business, etc.  I have an Origami Owl piece. When I bought it, I never really knew how or why the company started.  With popular companies I have a tendency of thinking of a guy in a suit in some big office building somewhere making plans to mass produce a product.  But a lot of businesses start off small.  Now every time I wear my Origami Owl pendant I’ll think of Chrissy Weems story.  I may even keep that story in the back of my head for my kids.

One thing that’s for sure, no matter what kind of business a person decides to start there’s never any guarantees. It will take hard work and there will be ups and downs.  I have to keep reminding myself of that. Not every day can be a successful day. I also need to stop comparing myself to others and just do my thing.

If you are a small business owner I’d love to hear your stories of how you started your business.  How did you decide what business was right for you?  What resources did you use to help you get started?

 

 


Trying to Grow My Blog in an Ever-Changing Technological World

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links. Any opinions expressed are my own

I’ve been blogging for many years now.  When I first started blogging I really didn’t know much of anything in regard to starting a blog. Everything I learned, I learned from blogger groups, youtube videos, and trial and error.  I still have a lot to learn. With digital media constantly changing, I feel like there is no way to know everything.  Just when I feel like I’ve mastered one social media channel a new one pops up or they add new features or new rules.

With that being said, over the years I still am continually trying to grow this little blog.  I aspire to be like some of the other big blogs and vlogs that can make a living income from their blogs.  But when I think about that I think of the increased need for things like hiring people on, higher security and master data management.

I truly hope someday that I have to think about these things more seriously.  It’s amazing what one can truly do with the right content, the right marketing, the right knowledge, and the will power to do so.  We have beauty vloggers making 100s of 1000s of dollars every year. We have gamers getting paid to play video games. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve met some great blogger friends during my blogging journey. I’ve found out who is willing to help you and who is not. Plug-ins and youtube have become my go-to sources when I get stuck.  Even my youngest son says right now he wants to be a “You-Tuber” when he grows up. That wasn’t even a thing when I was his age.  Maybe some day he’ll be able to help his old mom when she needs some advice.


Getting Help With My Blog When I’m Not So Technical

This post is sponsored by DiamondLinks. Any opinions expressed are my own.

 

When I started blogging a number of years ago I thought I would just be sharing deals with people. I’d put it on the internet and people would just find it through searches or social media.  LOL yea I was naive.

I’m not very technically minded and I don’t make much money off my blog so when something needs to be done I have to try to learn to do it myself or crowd source from bloggers that are willing to help. As I learned there was more to the “If you write it they will come” idea I also learned a few things along the way.

Plug Ins are a life saver for me

When I’m not sure how to do something I can usually find a plug in for that. Like setting up Google analytics, or having social share bars on blog posts.   I’ve also found that there are Plug ins to make my time posting deals more efficient like Amazon deal generator, for instance.  Did you know there is actually a plug in to help share old posts to twitter? Actually there is more than just one.

There are Websites to help

There are plenty of websites to help with your blog. Some are free like Google Analytics while others are a paid service like Jaaxy which helps with keywords.  Just search for things like “help with keywords” or whatever you need help with and you’re bound to fall onto something.  Asking around on blogger websites help too.

When in doubt, YouTube

If a plug in isn’t the answer YouTube has saved me on a few occasions. I’m a visual person and it helps so much for me to see someone do it.  You’d be surprised at how many tutorials there are on Youtube for blogging, problem solving, etc.

If you can afford it, you can always pay someone

There’s plenty of webs professionals out there: web designers, SEO experts, hosting companies, etc that can help for a few. Sometimes for me, it just gives me piece of mind to have an expert do something.  I don’t want to break my blog!  I’ve used GoDaddy for my hosting for years and they’ve recently added a security product too which gets rid of, and scans for things like malware and viruses.  It’s actually pretty reasonably priced too.

When you get into bigger blogs and website and I starts seeing terms like ad-hoc reporting and scary stuff like malware detected, it’s time to call in the experts!

Blog Conferences

I’ve only been able to attend 2 blog conferences so far.  1 was completely online while the other was the Bloggy Conference at Cedar Point in Ohio.  I have a blog post about both I believe.  So helpful and it was nice to be able to talk with other bloggers.  I got great info on SEO, media kits, social media, and more.  Bloggy Con is actually one of the more affordable conferences out there too depending on where you live.