Patient Story: How Milka Fought Back To Save Her Career

Diagnosed in 2009 with Ulcerative Colitis at 38 years of age and just 13 months after becoming a Registered Massage Therapist and thinking my new career and life was over.

After the dreadful diagnosis I began searching the web for more info on the disease and to bond with those in the same situation. What did I find? I found some good valuable information as well as a lot of negative comments on the disease which led me to believe my new career was over and as my symptoms continued to get worse I wasn't sure of my outcome. My symptoms: urgency-before I could think “i need a bathroom and fast” it was usually too late, frequency- up to 20x’s a day, bloody/mucous stools and pain, got so bad that I knew I required more help than what I was getting and took it upon myself to search for a GI that was specialized in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Mount Sinai in Toronto had an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Group and I emailed them explaining my situation, that I was about to stop working, meds were not working and needed help. A wonderful nurse replied to me and said to get another referral from my family physician and fax it to the Gastrointestinal physician she recommended. From my very first visit I knew this GI doctor was going to help me!

After yet another colonoscopy this new doctor admitted me and I never thought hearing “I have to admit you” gave me such relief. Up until this point I kept hearing “oh you don't look sick” …if only I could have showed someone what was going on inside my body. So when my doctor told me that I thought FINALLY someone understands.

I was put on IV steroids immediately which up until this point I had not had any. I saw improvement but it wasn't the “take this and in 7 days you will be back to normal”. I was hospitalized for 2 weeks then released and off work for 3 months. A lot of muscle wasting had happened since being in the hospital even though I walked the halls as much as i could.

As the steroids were tapered in dose my symptoms decreased to a certain point. Remicade was my next and only option for medication other than possibly having surgery and I am happy to say I am still on Remicade and 8 tablets of Pentasa per day!

Anyone with Inflammatory Bowel Disease knows the disease is horrible but what I do want to stress is you have to do your part too. You only have this one miraculous body that has unfortunately been stricken with IBD. Eat healthy and exercise to make that body last and remain strong even through maybe your next flare. I know the doctors may say food will not bring on a flare… but why not eat more veggies or have a fruit/ vegetable smoothie to ensure you are getting more vitamins and minerals. With IBD our bodies do not absorb a lot of the nutrients so maybe if we increased the amount of good foods our bodies will get that little bit extra to be stronger!

The 2 things that continue to help me deal with Ulcerative Colitis. #1 getting a doctor you are on the same page with and believe in and #2 take care of your body through nutrition and exercise.

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Today I am still a Registered Massage Therapist and happy I did not give up on my career and through years of volunteering for The Gutsy Walk in Niagara I am happy to say I am this years Honorary Chair for the Niagara Chapter Gutsy Walk and am a Top Pledge Earner for the 2nd year in a row!!

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