Natalie’s story – a nurse’s journey with ulcerative colitis

As a nurse having previously worked in areas like endoscopy, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on gastrointestinal issues. Crohn’s, ulcers, you name it—I’d seen it all. But when I, at 27, got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it blindsided me.

It started subtly, just a twinge here and there, nothing major. I brushed it off, attributing it to stress or something I ate. As the symptoms persisted and intensified, I knew something was wrong. But never did I imagine that it could be ulcerative colitis.

My job, which had once been routine, suddenly took on a new dimension of understanding. I saw my patients differently, empathizing with their pain and struggles in a whole new light.

Enter my now fiancé. As my symptoms worsened, he became my unwavering support, cracking bowel jokes to keep my spirits up even in the darkest moments.

But the flare was relentless. Despite initial treatments, it dragged on for over a year, draining me physically and emotionally. The constant fear of needing a bathroom, the mad dashes to make it in time, the skipped meals to avoid triggering symptoms—it was a never-ending cycle of worry and discomfort.

I gained a newfound appreciation for the resilience of those battling IBD. The toll it took on every aspect of my life—work, socializing, even simple things like eating—was staggering.

But through the haze of pain and frustration, there came a glimmer of hope. After countless drug trials, I finally found relief with Stelara. Remission, which felt like a distant dream, was finally realised at aged 30.

You really benefit from a supportive network around you, whether it be family, friends, work colleagues and even health care professionals! I am so grateful for mine, especially my partner Ben and my dogs Millie & Angus. I couldn’t imagine getting through this without them.

Now, as I stand on the other side of that tumultuous journey, I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose. I’m so passionate about helping others navigate the complexities of IBD and learning as much as I can about this disease. Although not cureable, I am optimistic for the future, and I hope we can stop the stigma associated with all thing poo and bowel related.

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