In today’s episode, we continue Nicole Candelaria’s story from her decision to begin traveling to and from New York to see a gastroenterologist who specializes in IBD. Everything happened quickly as her new doctor was determined to not let her suffer any longer, but she quickly became weary of the travel and the reluctance of her doctors in Florida to cooperate.
In New York, however, her doctor blew her away with the amount of information she knew about IBD and her willingness to explain and discuss in detail the answers to many of Nicole’s questions that her doctors in Florida were never able to give. From medications to surgical options, her new doctor shared the reasoning behind every step of her treatment plan.
This past fall, Nicole went on short-term disability and began seeing her doctor in New York once a week. As she began healing, her visits dropped to every other week and then every few weeks. Using Methotrexate to help her transition from Remicade to Stelara, Nicole and her doctor finally started to see an improvement just this past February.
It was then, after all the years battling IBD and only achieving remission for one brief period, Nicole finally had hope and she realized that in order to get better she needed to move to New York to be able to continue this journey with her new doctor. As the timing worked out, she was able to move and get settled into a place in New Jersey just before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March.
Today, Nicole is vibrant, energetic, and thriving. Looking back, she realizes what a shell of her former self she had become – not realizing she was simply going through the motions day in and day out. Now, she’s happy, appreciating every moment of life, and sharing her story with the IBD community.
One of her biggest struggles throughout her journey, with all the highs and lows that IBD brings, was body image. Nicole often found herself hating her body for fighting against her, she was uncomfortable, and had no self love. Over the years, however, she gained a different outlook. Her experiences with IBD, she said, were humbling and she learned to love and be grateful for her body and everything it was doing to fight FOR her. With that new perspective, she created her Instagram handle, @crohnsically_beautiful, and began sharing her journey to help provide comfort and show others that they are not alone.
To those who are newly diagnosed, Nicole gives a reminder that you will get through it, you’re not alone. For those who are currently battling flare ups, “you’ve got this!” And for family members, she shares the importance of reading up and becoming as informed as possible to help better understand the person in your life with IBD.
Follow Nicole: www.instagram.com/crohnsically_beautiful