I’d like you to meet Abby Walker, a fellow crohnie that I met via social media during my fundraising for CCFA this past June. Abby found my posts on Instagram and we began chatting. Come to find out that she was living in Kona at the time and would be there during my first half marathon for CCFA, which was June 22, 2014. Unfortunately due to conflicting schedules we were unable to meet but since then have kept in constant contact. I’d like to take a moment to share Abby’s story with you and give you another reason why I am proud to run the Vegas Rock n Roll this November in her honor.
Abby Walker is 29 years old from Indiana. She primarily works in ministry and missions. Currently she is working with a band and guard getting ready for the start of the season. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease September 2013.
The symptoms began around 2005. Abby was experiencing variety of intestinal pain and discomfort, frequenting the restroom, blood loss, lack of proper nutrition, loss of appetite, face pain, night sweats, eye swelling, joint pain, fatigue, dizziness, heartburn, and side effects caused from medications. In September 2013 she was hospitalized for 4 days due to inflammation and ulcers, and found that she had formed scar tissue that resulted in a bowel obstruction, causing severe abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. The doctors have put Abby on various medications such as Humira, Budesonide 9 mg, Omeprazole, Zoloft, vitamin D, Vitamin C, Probiotic, Multi-Vitamin, and iron supplements as needed
Crohn’s has effected Abby in various ways. She was bed ridden for about 4 months, due to severe fatigue, and various other symptoms. She had to re-learn how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat it, had to learn to manage stress as well as I could and was unable to work for a period of time. The diagnosis and ongoing symptoms has also caused periodic struggles with depression. Abby’s pain tolerance is higher than it was, because most pain meds would irritate her stomach or make her ill. She knows that she will have good days and bad days. On days when I feel good, I dance, challenge the group with exercise routines, laugh, and enjoy the little things. Recently though, she’s been flaring for a few weeks, she hasn’t been able to be as physically involved in practices with the group, but that won’t stop her. She is still there everyday directing and giving instructions to the team.
Abby now has more hope for the future, and she appreciate so many more little things than she did before, even though she won’t ever have a “normal” health, and eating whatever she choose. She has struggled with feeling isolated, because of the illness and has even gone down a pants size, but it fluctuates from time to time now. Because of her meds, her immune system is much weaker, therefore causing her to get sick from other things more often, or it takes longer to get rid of a cold, etc.
Advice she gives to fellow and newly diagnosed people with Crohn’s or Colitis is first, find a doctor that specializes, studies, and researches Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Get as many opinions and advice from friends and support groups formed of people who have IBD and know what you’re going through. Don’t let Crohn’s or Colitis win. Use the adversity as a chance to inspire people and to hope for better things to come. Appreciate and celebrate the little things.Don’t let yourself be consumed with the negatives. Don’t forget to laugh and live life. Find ways to focus on others. We might be facing a relentless illness that will come and go as it pleases, but that doesn’t mean that we are ‘victims’. She also recommends using the GI buddy app. It’s a great place to document and monitor symptoms as well as a great resource to so much IBD related stuff.
She sees this struggle as an opportunity to grow stronger, keep the hope, celebrate the little things in life, and to be thankful. She also want her compassion for others who face chronic illnesses to be a place of encouragement that none of us are alone as we go through this. Keep living, and keep loving life.
Stay strong and Crohnie on!!!
#crohniesaretoughies (her fave hashtag)
Follow Abby on Instragram and her blog. (DearAbby789 on Instagram, dearabby789.wordpress.com)
If you would like to make a donation in honor of Abby Walker please click DONATE HERE! Donations made thru September 9th will be matched by CCFA.