Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crohns DVD Launch: Ashley's Talk on Crohn's Disease

Hi Guys,

As promised, here is what I had to say at the Crohns DVD Launch. This Launch was great - I got to touch base with nurses that took care of me almost 10 years ago at Sick Kids Hospital when I was going through my toughest bout of Crohns Disease. I remembered them like it was yesterday! They were fantastic - I still have all the pictures with them. The 2 weeks I was there at Sick Kids were 2 weeks i'll never forget, but it certainly makes a huge difference to have caring, loving and supportive (and fun:) ) nurses and doctors to care for you while you're going through what seems like life's biggest obstacle. Thank you.

My Speech:
Hi Everyone,
I think this is a great DVD and I think it’s a great tool that Abbott has been so kind to put together for all those living with Crohn's Disease. I've had Crohns since I was 9 years old and im now 24. I was diagnosed in the hospital, after a visit to the emergency room. At such a young age I had to find the strength and will to pull through all the tests, PICC lines, drug side effects and body changes that I underwent at the beginning. It was a rush all at once and I was terrified, depressed and hopeless. I felt like my life was going to end, and at some points when even though I was on complete bowel rest and hadn’t eaten anything in a week and was still passing lots of blood in my stool, I actually did think my life was ending. And maybe that’s when I thought about all the things I wished I had strived to achieve in life but put off. Or the times when I told myself I wasn’t strong, beautiful or brave enough to do something. And as I lay there in my hospital bed thinking this, I told myself that if I did make it through this, then I could do all those things. Well I shocked myself when got to first eat again, and when I started feeling better and better, little by little until I was back at school. Somehow I seemed to mesh back into school and life like nothing had happened, but something big did happen. I found myself searching for people I admired and wanting to get to know them, know how they lived, how they did the great admirable things they did and find out where and how they started because I wanted to do things like that too. I wanted to contribute to the world how they contributed and wanted to be someone that can help a lot of people and accomplish something great that Im truly passionate about. And since then, and with the re-igniting force I feel after every flare-up, Crohns has propelled me in this direction- to challenge myself in ways Ive only dreamed and to push towards experiences that require a great deal of determination, strength and health. With this, some of my accomplishments have been obtaining a science degree, becoming a yoga instructor and personal fitness trainer, accomplishing a 200km Cycle known as the ride to conquer cancer. And my goal this year is to complete the Ride to Conquer with my sister and complete the Death Race, a 125km run split between 5-members through the mountains in Alberta, Canada. I've also found an increased interest in learning more about myself and my body, and finding a way to continue to do what I love now that Im living with Crohns.
Its not always a perfect world and it can be discouraging. But Im inspired by meeting others with Crohns. Sometimes I meet others that have experienced a lot more pain and struggle than me and it reminds me that I am not alone and what I think as the 'worst ever experience' may not be the case. Family and friends are very important to me and having that support means everything to me. Emotional support is really really helpful. There are periods where you feel like you want to give up, and somehow and sometimes there is something or someone that inspires you to push on, see through it, keep breathing (like Tom hanks said in Castaway) and somehow turn it all around and live to the fullest potential.I don’t know how it happens and everytime it happens it’s somehow a different experience.

When I was first diagnosed officially at Sick Kids, the nurses there were amazing . Funny enough at the end of the two weeks I was there I didn’t want to go home and when I was home I missed being there very much – and I know this was because of the amazing emotional support I felt from the nurses there. They were my friends. I would have loved to have received a video from my nurses teaching me more about my disease and hearing others with Crohns offer tips and support for me. I remember being so overwhelmed and at times am still overwhelmed with the diagnosis. And when I went to look for information, I didn't know where to look. There was information everywhere and products to 'cure it overnight' etc. Having a CD like this would have really helped me and answered my main questions, but also inspire me! There's a very inspirational story in this DVD that has even propelled me to push to great heights and goals. And the truth is, as a part of the CCFC Youth Advisory Council I meet constantly individuals all over Canada with absolutely inspirational stories and groundbreaking achievements like the ones shown in this DVD. If a person has been diagnosed with Crohns, they cant forget what they love to do (sports, travel, etc) and its important for them to learn how their body is working, whats happening and any lifestyle changes they could make that could help, such as nutrition and exercise. Theres a lot of information out there, and some of it isn’t always right, so having this DVD put out and nurses like you can get out the right information to the newly diagnosed individuals living with Crohns Disease. You know how many questions we have, and where our insecurities lie. It can be very easy to focus on the negative, but focusing on the positive is critical – its important to make a conscious choice to be positive. I think there can be a lot of negative literature out there about crohns, but I think this DVD is something really positive. And I hope it will touch individuals to make the personal choice to change their lifestyle for the better, eat more consciously, take time to relax and to honour and love the skin their in. Thank you Christine Montgrain (Abbott Laboratories) and Dr. Krishna Menon for this opportunity.

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