I live in Southern California with my husband, son and 2 rescue dogs. Before becoming a mother, I worked in non-proﬁt marketing/PR, and now spend my time advocating for auto-immune wellness and education through my blog, Gutsy Girl.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and Seronegative Spondyloarthritis in 2015. My symptoms originally started as eye inﬂammation (iritis) and debilitating joint pain in my SI joint in 2012. Several doctors misdiagnosed my issues but after my digestive issues began in 2015, I knew I had to push for answer.
An opthalmologist ﬁnally started the ball rolling on my autoimmune journey. With the help of him, a rheumatologist and a gastroenterologist, I ﬁnally got my diagnosis and was able to start effective treatment.
I feel like I spent so much time not knowing what was happening to me, that when I ﬁnally got a diagnosis, I felt a wave of relief. I knew my life would never be the same and my uphill battle was only beginning, but I also knew that I could choose to take charge of my health, choose to not take no for an answer, choose to ﬁnd a better way of healing and most importantly, I could choose to be happy.
I trusted my doctor whole-heartedly, and began a combination therapy of Humira and Mer-captopurine/6-MP. I went from “severe” Crohn’s to clinical remission in less than 6 months. Some symptoms still lingered and I knew true healing came from more than just prescription medication. I immersed myself in diet changes, natural supplements, stress-relief and exercise. I think making these critical lifestyle changes are really what enabled me to maintain remission for the past 4 years.
I still struggle with the fact that I’m never going to get better and that’s a hard concept to wrap my head around. But with this anxiety also comes a sense of empowerment that while I can’t change my condition, I need to manage what I CAN control through proper self-care techniques.
It’s true what they say, you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. Before being diagnosed, I had pretty low self-esteem. I felt weak and unheard and lost. But once my condition was validated, once I knew it wasn’t “all in head,” it’s like life was breathed into me again. Like I knew I had a purpose to not only get better for ME, but to be strong for my parents (my mom is an eternal worrier), and now for my husband and son.
I found my strength through the “heat” of chronic illness and this condition has empowered me to make positive changes for myself and for our community. 75% of autoimmune sufferers are women and I truly believe we are stronger together.
Find Stacy | @gutsygirlblog