A Problem Shared
Despite enduring some hard times, Meg Nicoll has put her experiences to good use by helping others on their IBD journey.
HI. My name is Meg and I have Crohn’s. I was diagnosed at the age of 21. I, my partner and my family, have fought a long, hard and not so pretty battle. Crohn’s can be an insidious disease causing all sorts of havoc throughout your entire body. Along with the symptoms of ulceration in the bowel, I have been affected with arthritis and a not so common ailment called Pyoderma Gangrenosum (extremely painful deep ulcerations mainly on the lower legs). The bowel flare ups and the Pyoderma would run simultaneously, hence I could use that as an indicator of bad things to come. I have endured more hospital visits, surgeries and severe complications than I care to think about.
Things came to a head in 2008. At this time my days were spent in waves of excruciating pain followed by over medicating for pain relief. I had worked through four of the five IBD medication categories. I had no appetite and had dropped from 70kg to 44kg in the space of 11 months. It’s safe to say things weren’t good. I was admitted to hospital with a dire outlook. I now had to face the surgical option that I had been so desperately trying to avoid. The morning of August 14, 2008, I underwent surgery to have an ileostomy. Within days, the improvement in my health and wellbeing was noticeably better. Not to say that this happened overnight, however, mixed with the introduction of fortnightly injections of Humira, I was starting to feel like “me” again. Now in 2011, things are going well (touch wood). I still have days I want to spend in bed but those are few and far between.
My career, social life and my opportunity for motherhood have become some of the casualties of my illness. Although this sounds quite bleak, I have chosen to use my IBD experience in a positive way.
I am a CCA Support Group Facilitator (Mt Waverley) and have been for three years. I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful and inspirational people. A support group provides the opportunity for those directly and indirectly affected with Crohn’s or colitis to share their stories and experiences with others who also have these illnesses in their lives. New attendees can be apprehensive about what they may encounter in a group meet only to have them comment afterwards about how happy they are to find like-minded people. They suddenly can see that others understand their pains, can answer some queries and help them to understand that this disease affects everyone differently. It also allows the sharing of positive moments and achievements, and most importantly, the realisation that you don’t have to feel alone or isolated in struggles.
I would like to give thanks to my partner Rod and my family for their support both in sickness and in health. A special thanks goes to my four-legged furry babies Pinkachu and Bisquette for their unconditional love and making me laugh and smile on those rough days.
The Mt Waverley CCA Support Group meets on the second Tuesday of the month.
For more information on a group near you, please phone CCA on 1800 138 029 or email [email protected]