Living with Chronic Illness: Colitis & Crohn’s Disease

 
Chronic Illness. 
 
It can feel like a sucker punch.
 
It leaves you with feelings of frustration, fatigue, and hopelessness. And cause you to feel alone, even though there are millions dealing with the same pain. 
 
I suffer from an autoimmune disease called ulcerative colitis. It’s a chronic illness that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications — as it did in my case.

My Experience with Ulcerative Colitis

My diagnosis came in October of 2017 and my symptoms went from moderate to severe within the first 30 days.
 
I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, was in debilitating pain, and lost 30 pounds in 30 days. I was hospitalized for almost the entire month of December. After failing treatment after treatment, I wound up undergoing three surgeries completely removing my colon, which ultimately saved my life. 
 
Ulcerative colitis is not a disease often talked about. Why? Because it is not a glamorous disease. The symptoms are often ones that are embarrassing to talk about. Symptoms such as abdominal and rectal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.
 
But guess what? I’m not really a glamorous person and find comfort and healing within sharing my experience. My hardships, successes, and my lifelong journey with chronic illness.
 
And so, I have made it my mission to speak openly in hopes to gain awareness, be a safe place for others to turn to, and to comfort those who are suffering.  
 

To those who suffer from a chronic illness, I am here with you and so many others are too. Maybe you are newly diagnosed, try to take a moment to allow the feelings to settle in. Take the time to process, to cry, to research, and to reach out to others for comfort. You are not alone. 

Raising Awareness and Funds

Do you or someone you love suffer from Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis? I welcome you to join us on October 2nd for our North Dakota Take Steps event. We will walk to raise awareness and dollars in hope for a cure at Elmwood Park in West Fargo. Registration is at 10:00 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:45 a.m. 
 
Ulcerative Colitis and many other autoimmune diseases can often be described as an “invisible disease” because a lot of times the symptoms of those suffering cannot be seen. This is a difficult part of the suffering because those around us may not understand the pain since it isn’t visible. My hope is to remind us all to be kind and give grace to everyone around us as so many are fighting their own silent battle, or possibly even an invisible disease such as this.
For more information and support, check out the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation website.
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Karli is a West Fargo native and lives here with her husband Taylor, and two sweet boys Dawson and Simon. Her family loves all things outdoors, sports, and music. If you live in the neighborhood the noise you may be hearing is likely from the dance parties in their kitchen. The over the top music may often be accompanied by, but not limited to, strobe lights, loud singing and quite possibly glow sticks. Although most days are full of music, laughter, sports and fun, the road to motherhood wasn't the simplest of journeys for her. Karli and her husband battled infertility for multiple years and about a year after she had her first son, life took a hard left. In October of 2017 Karli was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, which became quite severe very quickly and resulted in 3 surgeries which saved her life. Soon after coming out the other side of this disease she discovered her new found perspective, direction, and purpose in life. After a 10+ year career in Corporate America, always feeling like she was chasing the next role, Karli decided to join the non-profit world where she was actively volunteering as a mentor and became the Director of Mission Development for BIO Girls. Karli is a member of the Power of 100, FarGo Givers, Creator of North Dakota Adoption Support Group, and an advocate for those dealing with infertility, adoption, and chronic illness. Read more about Karli HERE.

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