In today’s episode, Shawn Bethea shares her IBD story from her first diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis in 2009 to an eventual diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease this year. She’s been through medications, surgery, and countless diets and has finally learned to navigate life with IBD.
Shawn talks in depth about her ostomy surgery, describing the full year of research she did and countless back-and-forth decisions on whether to move forward. Finally–among all her searches–she found someone online in 2014 sharing her own personal ostomy story. It was then that she reached a point of comfort with her decision and was ready for her own.
In 2015 Shawn had her ostomy surgery and six months later had her j-pouch surgery. It was finally after the surgery that she had her life back and began to live again. Before the surgery, Shawn didn’t have any “safe” foods. Everything was a trigger for her, it was only a question of how severe. Though she doesn’t have any limitations on what she eats now, she looks at life differently and says, “you only get one j-pouch!”
Seeking ways, in addition to medication and surgery, to feel her best, Shawn follows a pescatarian diet, focuses on her mindset and has learned to listen to her body and accept support from others when she needs it. She is now an active IBD advocate, regularly attending conferences, serving on patient panels, blogging, and openly sharing her journey. Shawn encourages all IBD patients to build their support system, to ask for help when you need it, and to always aim for better!