Kristie is a healthy and active 27yr old. She had been experiencing slight stomach pain for a while and tried to eliminate foods that seemed to trigger symptoms. As the pain got worse, she soldiered on through a very busy schedule at work. The only relief came from restricted eating and she thought it might be IBS. After a particularly bad week, the GP suggested it was appendicitis and sent her to emergency.
A CT scan found inflammation and they hoped it was a random infection. Kristie had no family history of Crohn’s, so thought that was unlikely.
But a colonoscopy confirmed a diagnosis of IBD, which was a shock and very overwhelming.
Thankfully she received excellent care from The IBD clinic at St Vincent’s hospital, with the IBD nurse being a great source of support. The 1st step was a strong course of steroids to calm the serious inflammation.
There were some huge adjustments to be made, as Kristie focused on getting her health back under control. She had planned to travel to Nepal but as the IBD drugs act as an immune suppressant she was unable to receive live vaccinations and her healthcare providers advised her to postpone this trip. She needed some time off work in the early days, as the medication made her nauseous and exhausted. Thankfully she was able to return to her job initially part-time while studying for her master’s degree and continued to focus on her health.
One year later, Kristie feels better than before her diagnosis and has a much better understanding of what she needs to feel well. She knows to rest if she's tired and tries to avoid stress. Kristie stays active but instead of running and spin class, she now prefers low impact activities such as yoga and cycling. She also knows which foods make her feel better, including avoiding too much fibre. With her health much improved, Kristie has returned to working full-time.
The long term outlook is very positive, as Kristie health continues to improve. She is hopeful her IBD will remain under control and she can continue to live life to the full.
Despite support from friends and family, Kristie found her IBD diagnosis an isolating experience. So she decided to start a support group as a volunteer for Crohns and Colitis Australia and has been joined by other young people, all having their own struggles with IBD.
It has been fantastic to meet others in the same situation, to share stories and have a sense of humour about their experiences.