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Year of Birth 1999
Lives: Middelburg, South Africa
Type of IBD: Ulcerative colitis
Diagnosis Date: 2018
Symptoms at Diagnosis: Bloody stool, fatigue, mucus in stool, bloating and abdominal pain.
Details of Surgery: None
My name is Jade, I live in a small town in South Africa. I am autoimmune and I have ulcerative colitis. I have had many ups and downs and it took me a while to really understand what my body was telling me. My journey feels like forever, it’s definitely a tricky one to sum up in just one page.
In the midst of my matric exams I began showing IBD symptoms, which at the time I did not show too much concern for, only later on did I realize that it was not normal and how serious it was. This was not an easy time for me; I had trouble going to the bathroom, bloody stool, fatigue and bloating of the abdomen. I went from GP to GP under the impression I had an infection and that a course of antibiotics would fix it. It did not stop, the symptoms became worse and eventually I was sent for a colonoscopy where I soon found out that I have ulcerative colitis.
“I thought that you could take a few pills and the problem would go away… little did I know.”
With limited medical awareness and knowledge of IBD, I did not understand what it meant to have ulcerative colitis. I thought that you could take a few pills and the problem would go away… little did I know. I first started on Salazopyrin tablets, then prednisone which gave me some side effects and the bleeding did not stop. I had to do something to make the bleeding stop. I finally found a great gastroenterologist, who then put me onto Pentasa (mesalamine) 500mg tablets and 1000mg suppositories, which keeps me in remission mostly.
I have been in and out of hospital since I was diagnosed, and have had flare ups. I have also had several colonoscopies, gastroscopies, blood tests, scans and a fissurectomy. If I experience a flare my doctor puts me onto Entocort enemas which is only a short term solution. I do hope in future new medications can be brought out and different treatment options. For now the Pentasa is working however, it is nerve-racking not knowing for how long it will work for, the idea of having to change medication and if other medications will work for me.
I definitely think being young and having ulcerative colitis is really tough, there are so many limitations when living with a chronic disease especially when it just feels so invisible. Travelling and spending time outdoors have definitely been an escape for me; find your comfort, your passion and go for it!
“Sharing your experience with others is a great way to educate and raise awareness but it also helps you on your journey forward.”
Living with IBD is hard, it is important to stay focused and positive. For me, my diet plays a huge role, there are foods I have cut out which prevent symptoms and help keep me in remission. Keep active and eat foods that work for you, it’s one of the best things I could have done. There are many misinterpretations about IBD. Sharing your experience with others is a great way to educate and raise awareness but it also helps you on your journey forward.
Reflecting back I really wish I had someone that understood or a support group that could help me and give me advice. Today I still do not hear people talking about IBD, this does make it challenging however with support from family and friends it can make the world of difference. Having IBD is hard enough, nobody should have to go through this alone. I hope to raise awareness and encourage others with IBD just like me. I have recently started up a personal blog on Instagram, @ibd_life_journey, for this reason and it is also a way for me to share my own experience. Please support IBD awareness, together we can make a difference.
PS. If not today then tomorrow, the sun will rise and we will try again.