Patient story: Eric from VeganOstomy
My name is Eric, and my story begins just before my diagnosis with Crohn’s Disease. Things were going pretty well for me in my mid-20’s; I was working hard and enjoying my free time playing soccer with friends or gaming online. At the time, my kids were ages 4 and 1, and I had all the energy in the world to keep up with everyone and everything in my life. But in 2007, right through to mid-2008, I was getting tired more often than usual, and I was having trouble keeping up on the soccer field. Apart from fatigue, things didn’t seem too out of the ordinary, but I began to develop some soreness when sitting.
I didn’t think anything of these pains to be honest, and while they were inconvenient, I wrote it off as possible hemorrhoids. When things became more than just a minor inconvenience, I decided to see my family doctor, who put me in touch with a surgeon to get a colonoscopy done. In October of 2008, I received a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, and I can’t say that I was quite ready for what was in store!
The next several years saw me through medication, dietary changes, probiotics and just about every herb, supplement and remedy you could imagine! I was getting acupuncture, had worked with several alternative medicine practitioners, but my condition wasn’t improving. In 2010, I suffered my first major flare, which forced me to spend the entire summer in bed. Life was miserable!
For a few more years, I continued to suffer with joint pains, chronic diarrhea, nausea with vomiting, and anemia. I was fortunate enough to get into a drug trial, which had me on prednisone and Humira. My brief encounter with steroids was like stepping into a horrible nightmare, and I must have experienced just about every side effect possible while on it! Needless to say, I was tapered off and we continued with Humira, which didn’t work for me. At the end of the trial, which was cut short for me after only 6 months, a new colonoscopy revealed that my colon was in such a terrible state that surgery to remove it was now being considered.
In August 2013, my entire colon was removed and I was given a permanent ileostomy. I had difficulty coming to terms with having an ostomy, but as I watched videos on YouTube featuring other ostomates who were happy and healthy, my perspective changed and I quickly realized what a blessing my ostomy had become! So inspired by what ostomy advocates had done, I decided to create a blog that would focus on living as a vegan with an ostomy, which I call “VeganOstomy” (www.veganostomy.ca). Through the blog and my YouTube videos, I’ve been able to offer practical advice and support for people living with IBD or an ostomy. Two articles that I’m proud of are:
- Dressing With an Ostomy: A Clothing Guide for Men
- Ostomy Diet: What to Eat in the First Six Weeks
In addition to those articles, I also offer dozens of ostomy product reviews; the most popular is for the Stealth Belt.
While the primary goal of my site is to offer support to other vegans with IBD or an ostomy, the information is relevent to anyone (vegan or non-vegan), so don’t let the name scare you off! I’ve made so many friends through my blog and advocacy efforts, and I really enjoy being a part of the IBD and ostomy community.
While an ostomy isn’t viewed as a cure for Crohn’s Disease, it’s given me a second shot at life, and my experience so far has been very positive! I am grateful for each day that I’m able to live pain-free, and I hope that we can one day end IBD for once and for all.