Share Your Scars - Casey, IBD/Ulcerative Colitis

Share Your Scars - Casey, IBD/Ulcerative Colitis




Tell us a bit about your condition: 

When I was twelve years old I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation and ulcerations in the colon (and some other areas of the digestive tract, depending on the individual). The symptoms of this illness vary from person to person, but for me it was bloody stools, constant diarrhea (I mean up to 20 times a day), very intense abdominal pain, extreme weight loss, constant weakness & fatigue, joint pain, lack of nutrition, dehydration, bone density & blood sugar issues, and the list goes on. 

I’ve blocked much of this experience out of my memory, but the seriousness of this disease put me on my deathbed multiple times in my life. My symptoms are not as intense now, since I had my entire colon removed twelve years ago and made the switch from western medicine to holistic medicine in my adulthood. The symptoms I still have today are often bloating, abdominal pain, inflammation & irritation, occasional diarrhea, pouchitis, fatigue, adhesion issues from all my surgeries, and some side effects such as arthritis from all the drugs I took at such a young age. Not to mention all the continuous work I do to relieve stress and the emotional effects of depression, anxiety and self-esteem.

How has this condition negatively impacted your life? 

This condition was extremely hard to grow up with and I still struggle emotionally with my “bad” days, weeks, or months. There’s something to be said about those days when you cannot function and you lie in pain thinking “This has taken so much away from me already and this the rest of my life, I will never escape this.” The strength of my body now, is a miracle in comparison to where I used to be, but that doesn’t mean the feeling of weakness is entirely gone. Some days I still feel like a skeleton drained of life, energy and joy. Normalcy is just not an option for some of us and it’s hard not to compare. Even when you’re proving your strength to the world, it’s not always your internal truth and you don’t necessarily get stronger each time, just smarter. 

How has your condition positively impacted your life? 

At the end of the day I am grateful for this whirlwind of a life. Without this disease I would have never pushed myself to learn and connect so much to my mind, body, and spirituality. To be sober, conscience about my diet, conscience my body’s needs, consistently learning about new ways of holistic healing and home remedies, and I would not be as empathetic to the pain of others- both physically and emotionally. It also makes me appreciate the good days so much more. The days I can get out of bed and feel good and strong and alive, that doesn’t get old. 

I remember in high school I was so very thin and weak that I couldn’t even carry my own backpack from class to class, so my dearest friend did it for me. Now every time I go on a hike or do something active, I’m amazed at my body, the way it functions and repairs itself, how far I’ve come. It fills me with so much gratitude, I could cry every damn time. 

It makes me want to strive better in taking care of myself because those good days are what I live for. I am also incredibly grateful for the friends I’ve made that have the same condition or also suffer from chronic pain. It’s so much easier to express yourself truthfully, wholesomely and sometimes just laugh about it with people who really understand.

How do you find emotional/communal/informational support with your condition? 

For my senior thesis in college, I created a campaign called “Guts Get Graphic” to distribute information, awareness, and poop humor about Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns. This was the first time in my life where I really found a sense of community with people dealing with the same issues as me. There is so much good happening with this kind of support on social media these days and it’s easy to find. I’ve also been a part of the CCFA (Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America) for a long time, and they sponsor annual fundraisers and events. Denver has a chapter that I joined a few years ago and completed my first marathon fundraiser in New Orleans - this experience really changed my life in so many positive ways. It’s so important to find those who understand what your friends and family unfortunately cannot, no matter how hard they try. In all honesty, these days I find comfort in running a team of Vital You ambassadors in which many suffer from chronic pain & illnesses and are not afraid to share their journeys- you’ll meet some of them in the coming blogs too. ;)

How do you find relief of physical symptoms? 

The remedies I do vary by what symptoms I am experiencing. I am pretty active in routine visits to the chiropractor and acupuncturist which both have helped me in so many ways. At home it’s all about... 

  • Herbal medicines and teas to help aid digestion and blood flow (loose-leaf tea & chinese herbal medicine from my acupuncturist)
  • Staying hydrated constantly
  • Staying on a very clean, high nutrient and anti-inflammatory diet: no gluten, sugar, high fiber, fried, dairy, red meat, acid, caffeine, alcohol, and try to keep it as organic as possible.
  • Purium & Amazing Grass dietary supplements
  • Lots of probiotics (I make my own kombucha & use a powder form called Ora)
  • Yoga/certain positions to keep everything moving and working (child’s pose is a savior)
  • Castor oil with heat on my tummy to also help with blood flow, digestive flow, bloating & gas
  • Red light therapy heating pads (makes a huge difference with pain & inflammation)
  • Moxa sticks to help break up adhesions & increase blood and digestion flow
  • CBD suppositories for irritation
  • CBD tinctures for inflammation 
  • Warm CBD baths for pain & inflammation!

Has the Vital You products or community aided your condition or mindset in any way?

Before I had even joined the team, Vital You bath bombs really changed the game of healing for me. There have been so many times when I plopped myself into that water in so much pain and came out a completely different person. The VY community reflects that healing & support intention and feeling and I am so grateful to be a part of a product and a business that I whole-heartedly believe in. Being a part of this community has opened my eyes up to how many people this product is helping in so many different ways and I feel humbled to be crafting a beautiful medicine everyday.

Do you find relief from hemp products? If so, how is it consumed and what symptoms does it help with?

I make CBD suppositories with coconut oil and CBD tincture or oil. This really helps with rectal irritation or “pouchitis” as it is referred to in my case. They also help with a quicker response to inflammation and irritation and are great for menstrual pain as well. 

CBD tinctures I use mostly for inflammation, diarrhea or anxiety. I use THC or a full-spectrum for pain and sleep aid or nausea when I am sick. 

Warm CBD baths for abdominal pain relief, muscle and joint pain relief, menstrual pain relief, relaxation, and sleep aid.

I use other topical salves, lotions and serums for muscle pain and skin care.

I love hemp for its wide range of uses!

Is there anything else you wish to share about your condition?

This condition and other digestive conditions are still not widely known or discussed, yet they are extremely common. Everybody's symptoms and reactions are different, so there is no easy way to determine a cause, cure, or remedy without taking the time to learn your own body. Just as importantly, it is a very embarrassing disease that is not openly discussed or admitted and that alone can be very detrimental to the mental health of the sufferer as well as their physical health. Find out what your “digestive normalcy” is and if you think you have issues, don’t sleep on them or just take over-the-counter medications. Alter your diet, alter your lifestyle and find out what works for you.

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