November is National Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month in Canada - a time to raise awareness. Canada has the highest rates of IBD in the world. An average of one out of 150 Canadians are affected by Crohn’s and Colitis, with approximately 30 per cent experiencing a flare up once a year. It can be a debilitating illness that can seriously impact a person’s daily life and, at worst, require hospitalization.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) represents the group of disorders that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis collectively falls under. Colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract while Crohn’s disease mostly causes inflammation in the lower part of the small bowel and the upper end of the colon. Both illnesses are typically first diagnosed when someone is in their twenties and they are both chronic, which means the symptoms can be treated but they never fully go away. However, with proper medication management, symptoms can be managed and any relapse prevented.
Your Health Report is about to launch the first pharmacy integrated program in Canada to offer a medication management tool to help those suffering from Crohn’s and Colitis. The new module will be able to send IBD patients dose notifications according to a prescribed schedule, track doses on an adherence dashboard and offer a health digest of information on IBD and its medications. It will also give patients with poor adherence the ability to schedule an appointment with their pharmacist when adherence drops to a sub-optimal level. Our development team is hard at work getting the IBD module ready for launch and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you this month.
With all this attention on Crohn’s and Colitis, I couldn’t help but think of my brother-in-law, Faisal. He is what they call an amazing story for someone diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I find his story amazing simply because he’s living a normal life without taking any pain medication or Crohn’s related medication therapy.
For several months, he went through tests, abdominal pain, fevers and chills. After reaching a weak point, he went to the hospital and was admitted for emergency surgery on March 11th earlier this year. The doctors ordered a CT scan and he went into surgery, opening up his stomach and removing a part of his small intestine- one foot to be exact. His ileum (the third portion of the small intestine) had to be removed as well because the inflammation and perforation began from the foot of the small intestine right to the ileum.
He walked into the hospital at 175 pounds and left a week later at only 150 pounds. Weight loss is only one of the many complications of a laparotomy procedure. Living with an IBD diagnosis can be painful and severely impact one’s quality of life. Faisal explains the impact this disease has had on himself and his family: “The recovery was painful but not as painful as not being allowed to carry my daughter for 6 weeks...I have joined the Crohn’s and Colitis association with a prerogative to raise money to find a cure and I am reaching out to everyone so we can TOGETHER - stop the pain, stop the multiple surgeries, and stop the missed moments.”
It is inspiring to see Faisal reaching out to those who are suffering from this disease as he understands the recovery process is not that simple, nor is managing this disease for the rest of your life. Eight months after the surgery he continues to build his strength through a strict exercise regimen, eats clean and avoids caffeine and other dietary foods that might cause him discomfort like dairy and sweets.
Whether you are following a specific medication treatment after surgery or managing medications to control your IBD symptoms, Your Health Report can help.
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About the author:
Nada Halaweh is a third year Co-op student at Mount Saint Vincent University completing her degree in Public Relations. She is currently working as the Communications Assistant at Health QR for this fall semester. She shares her brother-in-law’s amazing IBD story with you.