In today’s episode, Tara Kruck shares her 20-year journey with Crohn’s Disease. Like many IBD Warriors, in the beginning, she first noticed significant weight loss along with increasing abdominal bloating and eventually severe pain. She ignored the symptoms for more than a year and simply attributed them to the stress of being a senior in college and starting the process of looking for a job after graduation.
Her first doctor dismissed her symptoms and it wasn’t until after graduation, and finding a new doctor who referred her to a gastroenterologist, that she found out she was suffering from Crohn’s Disease. It was the early 2000s and the first medications she took never helped completely. Her doctor then was also limited in recommendations for lifestyle changes or other ways to help fight IBD.
During the early years of her diagnosis, it was Tara’s mom who encouraged her to start changing her diet and try different things to help improve her symptoms. But, it wasn’t until she found her third gastroenterologist around 2010 that she was able to bring all the pieces of medication, diet, and fitness together to finally find relief and a path to feel her best. Her new doctor was able to guide her in identifying foods that were her specific triggers and showed her how to navigate the process of reintroducing foods she had eliminated back into her diet. He also stressed the importance of physical fitness and switched her medications, getting her to a point where should could finally put on the healthy weight she’d been struggling to gain for so long.
Tara also opened up and talked about the emotional and mental toll that Crohn’s takes, in addition to its physical symptoms. She’s learned over the years that stress is a major trigger and shared how she’s been able to bring more things into her life that help to manage stress–from surrounding herself with positive people and pets to enjoying concerts and learning to not sweat the small stuff.
In addition to finding the right mix of medication, diet, fitness, and lifestyle habits, Tara also became involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and joined a support group in her area. Finding a group of people who were going through the same thing gave her both a sense of community with IBD as well as ideas and strategies for managing her own disease. Support groups are a great resource for patients to share tips on how to prepare or navigate social situations revolving around food to just being able to talk about everyday things and how IBD impacts life.
Tara now lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and is working with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to start a local support group in the Huntsville area. If you are interested in being part of the group, please reach to Tara and let her know you’d like to be involved!
If you’d like to keep up with Tara’s journey, follow her on Instagram: @tarak.99