Why I Love My Disease

Happy 2 year anniversary to my inflamed colon. March 22nd 2013 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. WOW. I had to double check the year because I can’t believe how fast 2 years flew by.

Today’s blog post is more personal in nature. How many of the following can you relate to?

mangia paleo  ulcerative colitis blog

Let me begin by saying Inflammatory Bowel Disease does suck. And most days I don’t LOVE having it. It presents many inconvenient struggles and limitations. However, if our glass is half full – which it should always be – then this is what the disease also gives me.

A Sense of Purpose

Prior to my disease I was stuck in a quarter life crisis. Mid-20s….everyone around me was getting married and having babies or getting promotions and going on life altering adventures. I was working a 9-5 and constantly questioning what I had to offer the world. “There has to be something more significant than this”, I thought. I was right. 

That’s when I began to spread the word about this disease and creating a community of IBDers managing their symptoms through food and healthy lifestyle.

 “Using the bad times in life to make good moments for others is one of the best ways to live your life” – My Mother

Learning Limitations

Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you give up. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It doesn’t mean you are lazy. Learning to say no to things means you have more self worth. You are confident in your path and you know your limits.

Prior to my disease I ALWAYS felt guilty when I felt I had to cancel plans. Now I realize saying “yes” could sometimes make me sick. Canceling commitments is OKAY. Health comes first.

Ulcerative Colitis Made Me Healthier

Yup. You heard me. I live a healthier lifestyle now that I have a chronic health condition. Sure, sometimes I feel like crawling up into a ball on the toilet rocking back and forth crying. But for the most part I lead a healthy life. Before my diagnosis exercise was minimal and I ate junk food. My mood was all over the place because of my sleep patterns, alcohol intake, and late night greasy food choices. Now, on my good days I feel better than I did before my diagnosis.

One More Advocate of Crohn’s and Colitis

Inflammatory Bowel Disease didn’t know who it was picking when it picked me.  I am loud, strong, opinionated, and passionate. Diagnose me with ulcerative colitis and I’m going to speak about it. I’m going to tell you how many times a year I pooped my pants during a flare and how red the toilet bowl water was that morning. Because THAT IS REALITY. Education and awareness is important. The more people I meet the more I realize people think Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis simply means we poop a lot. *face palm* It’s my job as an IBDer to raise awareness of the honest symptoms and hardships.

laura scaviola inflammatory bowel disease hiking

I understand the strength of my friendships.

My true friends will joke with me about toilet humor but will also understand me when my disease gets serious.


To all of my friends who recognize my resilience, who are cautious about where and when we eat, who laugh when I make a poop joke, who share my blog with their friends and family, and all the other kind ways you show support…THANK YOU. Your words and actions mean the world to me.

It’s scary and embarrassing, but you make it more comfortable. <3

friends 5k

Instant IBD Connections

Have you ever met someone you didn’t know had an IBD? Once you discover it there’s a feeling of instant connection. If it weren’t for this disease some of the most inspiring and supportive people would not have come into my life. Instagram has been the best way for me to meet this wonderful community of fighters. One look through IBD and paleo hashtags can create a whole new online family.

It’s like hearing someone say, “you are not alone” without actually having to say it out loud.

ulcerative-colitis-best-friends-support

Compassion for Invisible Illness

Most of the time I go to work and every one thinks I’m fine. Same ‘ol Laura sitting at her desk. Same ‘ol Laura jumping around with a barbell at CrossFit. We all know that’s not true. IBDers have an invisible illness. We look fine when we’re not fine. We are ALWAYS working through our disease. This factor allows me to be more understanding of others who may be struggling with the same invisible issues.

 

 

Everyday my disease tests me, grows me, strengthens me, and inspires me. I love the person is it making me become and I love the people I’ve met only because of my ulcerative colitis.

What other positives have come from your disease?

24 thoughts on “Why I Love My Disease

  1. Shawna Lieberman

    Wow!! I found this post incredibly inspiring. I have hashimoto’s, and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which are also autoimmune diseases. I am gluten free, but find eliminating dairy and grains very difficult. Reading your story inspires me to want to try harder to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. Diet and exercise are crucial and I know this, I just need to make it my lifestyle.

  2. concetta

    Awww…that was so touching and honest and heartfelt! I know all too well (first hand) what you are going through. Do you think the paleo diet helps alleviate your symptoms? I can’t tell for sure for me…I do try to eat healthy, but it’s tough!

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      The paleo diet, sleep, stress management, and hydration are huge factors. I would not have been in remission so quickly without having found paleo right away. And I believe I manage symptoms extremely well when being very strict with food. But you’re right, it is so hard.

      1. adelaide

        Hi! I just came across your blog. Very inspiring. I have had UC for a year and half now and have been listening to my doctors every recommendation for getting to remission via medication. However, taking medicine like I have concerns me. So, recently I did my own research and reached out to the UC community to see what others are doing when it comes to controlling their UC. I started the auto-immune protcol paleo and it’s amazing! Unfortunately, lately I have cheated here and there and have definitiely paid for it. BUT, I’m happy to see such an inspirational blog because you’re so right, there’s a bittersweet love for it. It has made me healthier and more aware of all of the good vs bad things we consume on a daily basis. I do miss biscuits and gravy though. 😉 <3

        1. mangiapaleo Post author

          Thank you for your kind words and for discovering my blog! Welcome 🙂 I share your hesitation with medication. Although I believe it it necessary at some point in our disease it’s always important to do research first to see what works best for you. Hopefully you having a trusting relationship with your doctor. AIP paleo is a great way to get into eating healthier for our bodies. At the very worst it will help you in some way, maybe not necessarily directly with UC, but being healthier is never a bad thing! 🙂 Kudos to you!
          Best,
          Laura

  3. Jessica

    Great article! I think its so helpful to be positive about having health issues because really, the alternative is going to get us nowhere. I can relate to everything you have mentioned. On bad days, its easy to get down but its important to remind ourselves of the silver lining of disease. I feel like this has made me more of a compassionate person, humbled me and has given me more depth. I have also learned a heck of a lot! Thank you! 🙂

  4. Carlie Jones

    Laura, thank you so much for this post. We have connected via Instagram in the past and I have always really admired your account and story because I feel like I have so much in common with you. It is so helpful to not feel alone with an IBD. I was diagnosed in 2008 with UC and I am in my mid twenties as well. Admittedly, I have not been unsuccessful in putting my UC into remission. I take responsibility for this. I really struggle with “saying no” to social events and obligations, and often end up pushing myself too far to the point of exhaustion in an attempt to feel normal. Sometimes i find myself feeling resentful towards other people my age that seem to have so much more energy. I will have phases of being extremely discplined where I will avoid alcohol and wheat (my biggest offenders) but then I always seem to cave. Do you have any suggestions on how do deal with this, and not to feel “left out.” Do you avoid alcohol and wheat entirely? I could really use some guidance in this area, and admire and your attitude/success so much! I am studying holistic nutrition right now and hope one day I can inspire and help guide people into wellness too.

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      Hi Carlie,
      Thank you for your kind words and for reading the post! You’re right. We are certainly not alone. Although I know it can feel that way when we are not in remission. Discipline is so hard in our situation. The limitations can seem overwhelming – I agree! It’s also easy to feel left out, but what I normally do is share my lifestyle with others. So if there is a gathering I bring a dish. A great tip I learned from from Eileen at Phoenix Helix is to always hold a drink at social gatherings, like water with lemon or seltzer or juice. That way no one pressures you to have alcohol or partake in whatever they are eating/drinking. I also try to avoid alcohol and wheat, however I do have other “trigger foods” like coffee and spicy foods.
      I am not going to lie though, sometimes I do feel pretty lonely as a 27 year old who doesn’t “go out” often. Honestly though, I feel so much better when I am in bed with a cup of tea at 9pm. That way I am generally healthy so if I do choose to go out or if I have a busy weekend I feel more normal when doing so.
      Another helpful suggestion is to keep alternatives to alcohol and wheat. Keep snacks on hand or alternatives to whatever wheat products you would eat (ie, crackers < kale chips).

      Best to you!!
      Laura

  5. Amber

    Thanks for your transparency. My boyfriend has UC and I want to support him the best I can, so it helps to read other people’s experience with the disease too. I’m hoping we can start the Paleo diet together. It’s great that you have such a strong support group. Thanks for your blog!

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      Hi Amber,

      Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by the blog. Your boyfriend is lucky to have you! Hopefully you will both find success in the paleo diet. It’s always easier when someone else is in it with you. Sending my best to your boyfriend as well.

      Laura

  6. Andrea E.

    Thanks for the great post, it can be hard to stay positive & look on the bright side of what can be a very dark experience at times with an auto immune disease. Thanks again!

  7. cc

    You are truly inspiring. My parents have been trying to get me to try a gluten free diet, but I haven’t bothered because I didn’t really believe it might help (ok, and because I love pasta and all thiings that even resemble carbs…). I think after reading this I need to suck it up and give it a try!

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      Thank you so much! I’m glad these recipes inspire you to eat healthy. You’ll do great! I am positive you’ll see some great outcomes when looking into gluten free, paleo, and all around healthy and smart eating. 🙂

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