Kristin knew something was wrong when, in her late 20s, she was too sick to go to work. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic condition that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. Symptoms can be severe and debilitating.
“I was exhausted and really struggling,” she said. “I had to quit my job because I couldn’t function. All I wanted was a return to normalcy.”
After several surgeries and while her gastroenterologists worked to lessen her symptoms, Kristin started searching for people who were going through similar situations. She found a local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation chapter, and immediately it clicked.
She became a mentor, started volunteering part-time at the local offices and even helped plan the chapter’s first fundraising gala.
“The coolest part was getting together with a small group of people and sharing our experiences.” Kristin said. “We helped motivate each other and created very close-knit friendships.”
Now ten years after her initial diagnosis, Kristin is on a treatment plan that is slowly but surely improving her digestive health issues. Her flare-ups are far less common and she currently teaches at the Community Day School in Sarasota.
“I’m taking better care of myself, avoiding stress and am on medications that are helping” she said.
She leads the Sarasota area IBD support group and helps others struggling with the disease.
Learn more about Kristin’s Sarasota support group here. They meet at 6 p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Gulf Gate Library at 6 p.m. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
If you’re not located in Sarasota, don’t worry! There are hundreds of IBD support groups across the country through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Click here to find one near you.