Written by Imogen McKinney 

My name is Imogen McKinney! I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in May of 2021, but I have been symptomatic since 2016.

I discovered in 2016 at the age of 14 that I had a bone infection in my left knee. I barely got sick as a child, so this was a bit of a shock! I had surgery and things seemed to improve. About 3 months later, my knee pain came back and doctors were totally stumped. Since there was no obvious cause, they started to refer me to psychologists and I struggled with validation, which still does affect me and has taken its toll. I started hating school and eventually left after I completed Year 10. I continued to feel as though my symptoms were being brushed off.

I started having bowel symptoms in 2019, I continued to deal with it. My joint pain appeared in different areas and I received a diagnosis of CRMO (an inflammatory bone disease). My left knee pain became a memory as I started having extreme fatigue, pain in various parts of my body, and a resting heart rate of 120bpm. Eventually, my bowel problems became so bad that I booked into a different GP that day to hopefully get some help. The GP immediately asked me my symptoms, did a physical exam and then referred me for my first colonoscopy.  

Just like that, all that I had gone through previously over 5 years, had been validated. I began treatment with mesalazine, which was ineffective and then I began prednisone. This was also ineffective. That’s when I began Humira! From the very first injection, I felt like I saw myself again when I looked into mirror, I didn’t even realise that the real Imogen had been missing for so long. After six months of Humira treatment, my most recent biopsy came back normal! This was an achievement that I began to think I would never be able to get to!

There is still research being conducted into CRMO and they are now seeing a link between CRMO and the development of IBD. This was when I started peeking into the world of pathology and medical research. As of the end of 2022, I will have completed my Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques! What started as a fear of the world of medicine, became a fascination and a passion for it. I am planning to attend university and become a scientist now!

I truly believe that my experience has made me into a much stronger person and helped me to be able to understand others on a different level. My advice to anybody else that is suffering or looking for an answer, is that while it may seem like nobody is listening or validating your feelings, the most important person in this situation is and always will be yourself. If you can wake up and be confident in yourself and how you are feeling, that’s all you need to take on the world!