Hi, my name is Jade Gerrard and I’m 18 years old.
My story begins back in 2008 when I started secondary school, I started off with a lot of bloating, abdominal pain, sickness, blood and mucus in diarrhoea, urgency for the toilet and a lot of mouth ulcers.
After many trips to the doctors I was always told “It’s a stomach bug” or “It’s Gastroenteritis”, after six months of getting no where with the doctor he referred me to St Helens Hospital, where i spent a year going backwards and forwards to appointments to be asked how the symptoms were and if there were any changes.
While being told things such as “It’s psychological” and “It’s because she’s being bullied at school and “wants time off”
They stated there was nothing medically wrong with me, without even conducting tests. At this point we managed to get a referral to “Whiston Hospital” things moved on quickly there; they knew something wasn’t right with me but couldn’t put their finger on it and so made a quick referral to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
At my first appointment there, I met with a Gastroenterologist and once describing my symptoms admitted me the next day for a colonoscopy. I was diagnosed finally on the 4th October 2010 with Ulcerative Colitis.
I attended Alder Hey for regular appointments where I was put on a large dose of Prednisolone, Azathioprine and Salofalk Mesalazine. The Prednisolone gave me quite a large moonface and I was bullied terribly in school, I put up with comments such as “Chipmunk”, “Theodore” and I even endured a boy throwing nuts at me on the bus as well as people puffing their cheeks out at me.
The Prednisolone although it gave me terrible side effects wasn’t working so I was tried on Budesonide and Asacol but these also failed. I was then told about a intravenous treatment called Infliximab.
I attended Alder Hey every eight weeks for this treatment and got no where, the time between doses was reduced to six weeks, then four, two and then once a week but it just didn’t help. By this time it was time for me to be transferred to adult care.
In 2013, I was transferred to St Helens and Whiston Hospitals for adult care and I was issued with an IBD team, by this time my flare had been active for five years (including two years of symptoms before diagnosis) and it was beginning to take its toll, I was losing the will to live. My GCSEs were taking place and I was struggling to attend school regularly, the fatigue was unbearable and the toilet urgencies were getting worse. I had regular accidents in school, in corridors, it was so deliberating; I was a nervous wreck and spent so much time in Student Support and talking to the school nurse.
A care plan was put into place to help me feel more comfortable about being in school. My new consultant worked between the two hospitals so essentially they were the same one, I was tried on Clipper, Mezavant and Metacapurine and still there was no sign of the flare clearing up.
By some miracle I managed to complete my GCSEs and passed each subject! I was grateful to leave school; I could now turn into a hermit.
I did try to attend Sixth Form for a short while studying Childcare and Health and Social Care, but unfortunately I was deteriorating too quickly and I had to leave before I could complete the courses.
My consultant mentioned a new treatment that I could try called Humira, I started on the injections every two weeks and by some miracle gained a little health so I enrolled at St Helens College and started an Applied Science course but after just two months, my health declined once again, I lost a lot of weight and was too exhausted all the time to carry on, I also suffered many accidents!.
My IBD team and consultant were running out of ideas and started to talk about surgery.
My breaking point came on 09/02/2015 when I had my first day of work, I knew it was a bad idea before I started; my Mum told me I was taking too much on and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it but needed to try.
I made the bus, but then had my first accident the second I got there, (luckily it wasn’t too bad so a quick change of underwear was sufficient) on my lunch break, as I walked to a local supermarket I was hit with the crippling stomach pains I knew so well, I had the biggest accident humanely possible in front of numerous shoppers.
People where looking at me in disgust, I cried and ran into the disabled toilets where I phoned my Mum and Granddad for help.
The second I had calmed down and was cleaned up I phoned the IBD team and told them I just couldn’t take anymore, I was at breaking point. I was barely continent, I was having accidents almost three times a day, the stomach pains and nausea was becoming the bane of my life and I had lost all my friends, I was depressed and isolated and was becoming my illness.
I was admitted that night where I spent a few days on Infliximab and Hydrocortisone and on 14/02/2015 at 3pm I was taken down to theatre for an emergency colectomy.
I had a lot of complications after my emergency surgery due to the condition I was in before hand, In the following week i developed Ileus, caught infections, and was told I came close to dyeing twice thankfully I was discharged on 27/02/2015 but only to return by ambulance on 05/03/2015 with pain and nausea, causing me to be re-admitted to the hospital, where I am currently typing this from.
The doctors have found my blood results to be abnormal, I am on intravenous antibiotics and Hartmanns Solution for dehydration, I’m malnourished and have a build up of fluid in my stomach.
Hopefully I will be discharged again soon so I can recover at home and get on with my life. Although I have not yet fully recovered from my surgery and I am still experiencing complications, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, all the anxiety has gone, my stoma has changed my life for the better. I named my stoma Stinson which was inspired from Barney Stinson on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother because it makes my life awesome!
My last paragraph is just to state that although Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a lifelong and deliberating condition; it does get better. All it takes is a bit of positivity and an open mind to keep the strength you need to carry on. We’re all warriors in one way or another and we will win this battle with our intestines! Life takes guts!