Mandy's Advice: Moving to a new city with IBD
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Mandy Morgan, and I’m the secretary of Girls With Guts. I got started with Girls With Guts a few years ago by blogging. I then found myself on the Board of Directors in the Director of Content position, and then moved up to Secretary.
I was officially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2013, but had complications since 2009 that I chose to ignore for a good four years. Real smart. Anywho, for IBD Awareness Week, I wanted to share more of my story with you all.
Back to school
I was diagnosed in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. In 2013, I started my first year of graduate school in Springfield, Missouri. I knew that I needed to find a good gastroenterologist in Springfield, since a majority of my time would be spent there, and I had no plans to go back to St. Louis in the summer between my first and second year of grad school. I found one gastroenterologist, and was told that I could basically eat and drink and do whatever I wanted. Not really the best advice. I spent a lot of days between work and class, lying on my couch in pain.
And then, during the spring semester of graduate school, I applied for an internship in Chicago, and I got the internship. The last thing on my mind was finding a GI in Chicago, much less how my UC would react to the stress of the move.
Off to the Windy City
I made my way up to Chicago with the help of my mom and dad. I was so excited to have landed a job at my dream company, at the time, and in my dream city. But, there was this consistent nagging of my UC and wondering what I was going to do. I figured that I would be fine for a summer. No harm, no foul. But, after a month into my internship, I received a full-time offer. I didn’t hesitate - I accepted almost immediately.
Finding a GI
Throughout this craziness of uprooting my life from Springfield, moving everything to a city where I didn’t know a single soul, and then trying to tackle graduate school, writing a thesis, a full-time job, and somehow I picked up roller derby in all of this, my UC took a back seat. I wasn’t taking the best care of myself, but I felt alright. I was exhausted, but who wouldn’t be with that much stacked on their plate?
It wasn’t until a few months after being settled that I started having major, debilitating symptoms. And I went for the first GI that had an opening.
I took on this GI doctor I had found, really by accident, and our relationship wasn’t great. He made me feel uncomfortable every time I went to see him, and his nurses always found a way to make me feel stupid. I dreaded going to see him, which then made me dread taking care of myself or running out of a prescription.
When my hair started falling out, he didn’t do much to give me any confidence that we could correct it. When I started having extreme heartburn, he told me that I probably had to get my gallbladder removed. When I started experiencing pain with sex, he told me it was probably the result of my now fiance cheating on me and that I probably had an STI. None of this was true or accurate.
I broke it off with this hot shot Chicago GI. And I sat down and did my research instead. I looked at all the various intestinal health departments that were covered under my insurance. I read reviews on GI doctors, and I wrote a list of what was important to me. After three years of living in Chicago, I finally found my GI home. I found a wonderful GI doctor who is compassionate, sweet, and gives me advice whenever I need it. She makes me feel human and important. As a GI doctor should.
Where am I going with all of this? To right here: moving is difficult, but moving with IBD isn’t impossible. Don’t pull a “Mandy” and settle for a piss-poor doctor who makes you feel like garbage. If I could do it all over again, I would’ve:
Research the GI situation before moving.
Narrow a list of three doctors to “date” and determine if we were a good fit or not.
Take my charts and medical records from my past GI doctors to show to my new doctor.
Advocate for myself early and often.
Simply put: Midwest Mannered.
Mandy was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and her Midwestern roots have followed her ever since. She was diagnosed with left-sided ulcerative colitis in 2013, after having complications since 2009. Mandy studied technical communication at Missouri State University, receiving both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Afterward, keeping true to the Midwest, she moved up to Chicago, bringing her love for STL-style pizza and baseball along with her.
Starting as a blogger for Girls with Guts, Mandy became hooked on the organization, and all the positivity, friendship, and support Girls with Guts has provided. She strives to keep that mission going.