• awareness,  caregivers,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Caregivers: The Greatest Blessing of All

    As we wrap up Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, I reflect on the greatest blessing of all in my IBD journey: my caregivers, my dear mother and husband. From the constant rides into the city for doctors’ visits to packing wounds and changing PICC line dressings while helping me walk and shower after surgery, Mom, you picked me up when I was at my lowest points in life. From driving me to Cleveland Clinic and flying me to Mayo Clinic for surgery while spending countless sleepless nights in the hospital, Anand, you stood by my side when society told you you could have done better. Many of our IBD journeys…

  • acceptance,  advocacy,  awareness,  coping with flares,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ostomy,  patient rights,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Allowing Acceptance In

    Thanksgiving season is upon us, dearests! As we prepare to celebrate life, love and laughter with our families and friends, it may be tough to avoid the elephant in the room: our chronic illnesses and disabilities. As hard as this may be, we can get through the holidays together by advocating for better quality of life and allowing acceptance of our conditions in! Our bodies may not be in perfect condition but let’s be thankful today and always for the moments of health, peace and joy that shine their way into our lives. ‘Tis the season to allow acceptance to pervade our lives to cultivate more love and better self-care!…

  • acceptance,  advocacy,  Appendicitis,  awareness,  Ostomy,  patient rights,  stigma

    Edgar Flores opens up about surviving near-death and the challenges of living with an ostomy in Mexico

    Ayatka Wuikot Tlatuan is the Native American name given to Edgar Flores, a 48-year-old Mexico City native who was born into two tribes. His mother Aztec and father Apache Indian. Just over two years ago, Edgar developed appendicitis and underwent an emergency operation to remove his appendix. What happened next truly shocked him. “I thought the operation had gone smoothly, but within a few days I began to experience severe stomach pain and felt very weak,” he said. As the situation went from bad to worse, Edgar was rushed to the hospital where an ER surgeon discovered that his abdomen was filling with blood. He was hemorrhaging from the inside. Ayatka…

  • acceptance,  advocacy,  awareness,  colorectal cancer,  Colorectal Surgery,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ostomy,  patient rights,  stigma,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Real Talk about Ostomies

    On the eve of World Ostomy Day, I write this blog post in hopes of debunking many of the myths surrounding living with an ostomy. So here goes nothing… I always get super excited when friends and family muster up the courage to ask about my ostomy. It makes me feel so connected to them and like I’m being recognized for all of me and not just the healthy-looking parts of me. I feel their concern, their love and most of all, their interest in how I live my life, chronic illness and disabilities abound. See, the thing is, living with an ostomy is often the proverbial elephant in the…

  • acceptance,  advocacy,  awareness,  colorectal cancer,  Colorectal Surgery,  Crohn's,  Ostomy,  stigma

    No More Secrets: An enlightening film that reveals the stigma of having an ostomy in India

    In a world that’s still struggling with the concept of life-saving ostomy surgery, India comes chock full of psychosocial taboos. In addition to the challenge of costly medical supplies, ostomies are widely viewed as unacceptable in this country and can even become barriers to pursuing careers and relationships. Filmmaker Anisha Vijayan recognized the need to educate the masses about living with an ostomy in India. After months of interviews and countless hours of research and production, her documentary No More Secrets was released earlier this year. She shared with OC the inspiration behind creating the film and how it’s offering encouragement to ostomates in South Asia. “My grandmother, Gita Menon, was…

  • advocacy,  awareness,  Colorectal Surgery,  coping with flares,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  patient rights,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Sepsis Is a Severe, Life-threatening Complication for IBD Patients

    It’s Sepsis Awareness Month, so I’m discussing what sepsis is and how it is often a complication of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal surgery. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs, potentially leading to death or significant morbidity.” WHO statistics show that more than 30 million people contract sepsis each year, and 6 million die from it. But aside from all these scientific terms and statistics, what is sepsis? To me, sepsis looked and felt like the following: It all started with a 103-degree fever, a high pulse well into the 130s, low blood pressure hovering around…

  • acceptance,  awareness,  coping with flares,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ostomy,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Throwback to La Caverna 2006!

    Throwback to the summer of 2006 at La Caverna in New York City, just a few months after my IBD diagnosis when I was 22 (you can literally see how pale and anemic I was). My buddy, Sunil, and I were always the ultimate dance partners wil’in out on the dance floor. Some really fun times that I’m glad I had the chance to enjoy back then. Fast forward 12 years along with countless medications and surgeries, here Sunil and I are again at La Caverna. This time with our amazing husbands recreating dance moves from our college days. As friends for many years, we have come a long way…

  • acceptance,  advocacy,  awareness,  Colorectal Surgery,  coping with flare,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ostomy,  patient rights,  stigma,  Ulcerative Colitis

    The Value of Support Groups

    In a world where medical professionals have only a few minutes to go over a whole slew of symptoms, medication interactions, and surgical complications, it is impossible to cover the psychosocial aspects of one’s condition(s). These aspects include methods of coping with the emotional roller coaster of living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).This is where support groups come into the picture. They fill that gap between doctor-patient interactions and provide real-time support and understanding to patients caught in the rigmarole of hospital visits, health insurance, and invasive testing. But more than this, the true value of support groups lies in empowering patients by fostering lifelong friendships through a deep understanding of…

  • acceptance,  awareness,  Colorectal Surgery,  coping with flare,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ostomy,  stigma,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Metamorphosis

    This past weekend marked 3 years since my series of surgeries at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. That trial was my greatest test to date. 3 surgeries back to back to clean out remnants of j-pouch, rectum and anal sphincter that left behind a wound the size of a small football. From daunting saltwater whirlpools, Jackson-Pratt drains, Hydrogen Peroxide flushes into my pelvis, a wound VAC and procedures under sedation every other day to clean out the wound. I was on 6 different painkillers and I was barely hanging on for life. In the months prior, I had drains galore, one from my back down my leg with a bag…

  • acceptance,  advocacy,  awareness,  Crohn's,  living with IBD,  Ostomy,  patient rights,  stigma,  Ulcerative Colitis

    Being Brown and Coming Out of the IBD Closet: The Chronic Illness Experience

    Being Brown and Coming Out of the IBD Closet: The Chronic Illness Experience [All photos courtesy of Tina Aswani Omprakash]   Just as soon as he landed from India, a good friend called me, half laughing: “Tina, I know exactly what it feels like to be you now! I’ve had diarrhea for the last three weeks after eating at Elco Market in Mumbai! What do I do?” Another time when I was deathly ill, languishing from anemia, malnutrition and weight loss due to 20-30 bloody bowel movements a day, I remember the aunties ridiculing me. They would cackle behind my back as they proclaimed that I did this to myself.…