ImproveCareNow whatiwishyouknew


IGNITE - It is OK if your illness changes you.

In a matter of days, Caitlyn went from being a full-time student athlete (following her dream of running at a D1 college) to being a full-time patient (diagnosed with IBD and severe visceral hyperalgesia). She went from balancing a rigorous training schedule and school, to managing doctors appointments, meds and nearly constant pain and fatigue. In the midst of this, she turned 21 and was pushed to find an adult care provider who would take her complicated case. She wanted someone to fight for her, who took time to understand how her illness was affecting her life and mental health, who recognized how hard she was fighting and who would support and advocate for her. In time, she found those people. With new treatments, her health began to turn around and she was able to return to school. However, her collegiate running career had come to an end. "I found myself grieving for my past life. For a body that I no longer had."

Once known affectionately as the "runner girl," who was Caitlyn without running? It turns out she is many things! Read her story to find out.

Be inspired by Caitlyn's #IgniteTalk 🔥



IGNITE - The impact and importance of listening

Kera has been seeking information and making tough decisions from a young age. She was just 10 years old when she, with support from her Mom and Dad, made the choice to use nutritional therapy to treat and manage Crohn's disease after surgery. Her path to emergent surgery, and ultimately her diagnosis, was long and paved with painful symptoms and emotional trauma. Some adults dismissed her pain as "normal" or even lies. In her deeply honest #ignitetalk, Kera reminded us that life is full of inflection points...the moment a stomach bug morphed into chronic pain, the moment her pain was validated and she learned she had Crohn's, the moment her care providers really listened and answered her questions, the moment she realized that succeeding at nutritional therapy helped her physical health but exacted a huge toll on her mental health, the moment it became clear her issues with body image and eating were not safe or healthy, the moment she discovered the Patient Advisory Council and people who she didn't have to 'downplay her trauma around', the moment (which came just before she took the podium at #ICNCC23F) when her PAC co-chair, Shira, told her that she is allowed to take up space.

If reading about or listening to real experiences with eating disorders and/or body dysmorphia does not serve you, please protect your own mental well-being by skipping this post and video.

Be inspired by Kera's #IgniteTalk 🔥


Medication Roller Coaster

I sit staring at what feels like a mountain of pills, my pillbox barely shutting. I just wish I could be a normal college kid. Taking daily medications sounds so simple and easy, but it’s often one of my biggest challenges. Trying to keep up with medications and even appointments gets very exhausting, especially since I’ve had to do these things from a very young age. I know nothing more than a life filled with pills and appointments. 


You have just met someone who also has IBD - you are not alone.

I remember feeling so alone in my illness. I was diagnosed with at age six and I grew up alone with this disease I was told I had and would never go away. I was surrounded by so many people but felt so peculiar because I was the only one with this disease. I always wondered to myself, “why doesn’t anyone else have this thing called Crohn’s disease?” and “why am I the only one with it?


IGNITE - Community and having a relationship with patients is important

Imagine being diagnosed with a chronic illness in the midst of a global pandemic and lockdown. How does a young person develop resilience and thrive when facing incredible health challenges in isolation? How can they connect with people who understand, who can normalize IBD and offer support and validation about experiences that are still very stigmatized? Not only was Hannah able to develop resilience (on her own terms) and thrive (in the face of difficult surgeries and complications), she also found a community in ICN and the PAC and has grown into an incredible patient advocate. In her #ICNCC23S Ignite Talk, Hannah shares the story of her diagnosis, what resilience and community mean to her, how asking questions and getting to know patients can open the doors to more inclusive and whole-body care.

Be inspired by Hannah's #IgniteTalk 🔥


My new irritable friend

In November of 2021, I was diagnosed with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. I had an uninvited, new irritable friend that became a part of my daily life, just like my IBD. Leading up to being diagnosed, I had been experiencing gut-wrenching belly pain, nausea with pain, and fluctuations between painful constipation and uncontrollable and very urgent soft stools. I knew something wasn’t right. I had experienced fluctuations of stool type from my IBD, but this time it was different. 


The dreaded medications

Quote from ImproveCareNow Patient Advisory Council member Autumn, "As long as I can remember, I have been required to take numerous different medicines and to 'trial and error' different ones to find what works best for me."

I have been surrounded by medications and taking pills my whole life. Between being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at six years old and being diagnosed with IBS recently, with all the different medications I have to take every day and have had to try - feeling overwhelmed is an understatement!


Living with IBD and a feeding tube doesn't define you!

Quote about Feeding Tube Awareness. "Your feeding tube doesn't define who you are, it doesn't make you any less beautiful. You are still the same person you were before the feeding tube."

February 6-10, 2023 is Feeding Tube Awareness Week! I think it’s very clever to have something like this because it seems like most people are ashamed or feel insecure when having a feeding tube; it shouldn’t be like that. A feeding tube isn’t an embarrassing thing to have. We should be grateful to have such a thing when we need it, so we don’t get even more sick.


Episode 32 of the imPACt podcast - What Patients Need From Providers with SWAP

We are excited to welcome back former PAC co-chair, Dr. Jennie David (now a licensed pediatric IBD psychologist) as a host for this episode of imPACt. During episode 32 we talk about whole person care in IBD and get to ask a psychologist, social worker, and medical provider (nurse practitioner) how they came to work in pediatric IBD and how they learned about the mental health components of IBD.


Episode 31 of the imPACt podcast - @BowelSounds Collaboration #WhatIWishYouKnew

Join me (Fionna) and my fellow PAC members, Christian and Shira for our conversation with the hosts of the NASPGHAN podcast, Bowel SoundsDr. Temara Hajjat and Dr. Jason Silverman. We discuss what we wish providers knew from the patient perspective and uncover what providers wish patients knew. 


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