As part of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, Ampersand Health has been highlighting the stories of those within the IBD community across our social platforms.
We will continue to share stories beyond this week, as it has always been important to us that individuals in the community feel heard, and that they are reminded of how valid and important their perspectives are.
Jack Roberts is a new member of the IBD community and a (massive) Manchester United fan. He shares his story with us today, highlighting some key moments within his journey so far that have had a great impact on him.
I live and work in America as a football coach at a University. I grew up playing football for Leicester City’s Academy and I have always been really healthy and active. A few months ago, I started to rapidly lose weight, feel sick, and feel really down. I ended up in the hospital as I was struggling to keep anything in me, food, fluids, etc. For the first time in my life, rather than feeling fit and healthy, I was just completely clueless and I felt absolutely defeated.
After a few months of various different medications and diagnosis, I was told that I had Ulcerative Colitis. Having a diagnosis was a huge relief. Scary, but relieving. I am now trying my hardest to educate myself about everything – the illness, stories from other people, how I can help others, and what can be done for the future.
The Value of Support
Over the past few weeks I have been able to gain weight again and I feel much stronger than I did before, both physically and mentally. I am incredibly lucky to have the support of my family, friends, and partner Abby. Throughout these past months Abby has been my shoulder to cry on, to talk to, and has also dealt amazingly with all the emotional ups and downs herself. It is amazing to think about how quickly my life changed, and not only that, but how quickly things became bad. It has been the most exhausting and emotional period of my life, but I can’t wait now to get fighting fit and help others as well as myself to be aware, and understand the struggles of IBD.
IBD Representation in the Media
I’m a huge Manchester United fan. Years ago, I remember hearing about the story of Darren Fletcher and the struggles that he faced during his career. But to be completely honest, I just thought he was sick and had some rare condition that meant he couldn’t play for a while. As I was in the hospital and Ulcerative Colitis was mentioned to me for the first time – the first Google search I did was for Darren Fletcher. It immediately came into my mind.
His story was tough to read, but it was so inspiring. The struggles for someone like that who relied so heavily on their body for their career and lifestyle, allowed me to realise that with time, I could be back to feeling better. The thing that truly fascinates me, is that so many people suffer from these diseases and illnesses, yet the education and awareness of them is so limited. A story like Darren Fletcher’s helped me, inspired me, and allowed me to feel comfort in telling friends and family “I have what Darren Fletcher has”, as opposed to being embarrassed or scared to talk. Awareness is vital and education will help.
These past few months have felt like a lifetime, but the more I talk to people and hear their stories, the better I feel over time.
A message from Jack for Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week:
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