December 1st through the 7th is known as Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week. Because this week hits home for me in many ways, I wanted to write a post and bring it to the attention of those who may not be as educated on the topic.
Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract and it can affect anywhere from the mouth to the rear end at a moment’s notice. Colitis, or ulcerative colitis, a disease within the same family, is the inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Both conditions are very painful and in extreme cases can result in the removal or resection of the large and/or small bowel.
As most of you know by now, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease 15 years ago. My significant other, Justin, also was diagnosed in his mid teens and it became so severe he had his colon removed, though he’s still dealing with minor inflammation in his small intestine. My grandma has ulcerative colitis and she no longer has a colon, either, and my uncle is being treated for the same disease. More and more people are coming out of the woodwork who are dealing with Crohn’s or colitis, yet many still have never heard of either condition.
Crohn’s and colitis are often called “invisible diseases” because many times the symptoms of these diseases are not visible. Those suffering usually don’t look sick, even if they’re in immense pain on the inside. Treatments for Crohn’s and colitis are available, but they still don’t make a patient feel 100 percent. Many times people fake being well, and they get very good at it.
Throughout this awareness week, the Crohn’s and Colitis Association of America is hosting a number of social media chats and using the hashtag #IBDvisible. Some of the events are for those looking for more information about a certain topic relating to Crohn’s and colitis, while others will showcase well-known individuals who suffer from the diseases.
Here’s a list of what’s to come and how to interact:
- Twitter chat with Mike McCready, Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist and Crohn’s patient, today, Dec. 1, from 5-6 p.m. EST. Tweet your questions using #IBDvisible.
- Facebook Live video chat about IBD and advocacy tonight, Dec. 1, from 8-9 p.m. EST
- Twitter Chat about mental health and IBD on Dec. 5 from 8-9 p.m. EST. Tweet your questions using #IBDvisible.
- Twitter chat with Olympic gold medalist Kathleen Baker on Dec. 7 from 2-3 p.m. EST. Tweet your questions using #IBDvisible.
Research continues every day for a better treatment and cure. If you’re able, please consider donating to the CCFA. Throughout the holiday season, each donation is doubled to help support that ongoing research and also support programs for patients.
Hopefully, in the not too distant future, the suffering of millions will come to an end.