Today is World IBD Day – A day recognised annually on 19-May to help unites people worldwide in their fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Why am I sharing this with you?

I live with an IBD, Ulcerative Colitis (UC). UC is chronic digestive diseases that affect five million people worldwide. There is no cure, no known cause, and little public understanding of the pain and chronic suffering with which IBD patients courageously cope every day of their lives.[i]

In 2018, I shared my experiences with being an entrepreneur and being chronically ill, via the Chronic Entrepreneur website. Today, on this 2021 World IBD Day, I thought I would revisit my initial interview and share my updated thoughts!

When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed in 1990 when I was 19 years of age. I was young, with my whole life ahead of me. My diagnosis didn’t impact my daily life too much. I just needed to take my meds and lead a healthy life.

What came first, the chronic or the entrepreneurism?

Ulcerative Colitis. My business was founded when I one day found myself being made redundant! Living in a regional city, with plenty of hands-on experience, but no formal tertiary education, I decided to take a leap of faith and become an entrepreneur – it was a challenge, but I loved every step, especially in the early days.

How have you changed, if at all, in your relationships, decisions and values because of your chronic illness?

My diagnosis has not changed me. I am more aware of my limits and needs to stay in remission, but I choose not to withdraw from life because I have Ulcerative Colitis. Sometimes, this means I need to make changes to my life, but mostly, when in remission as I am now, I’m encouraged to live life to the fullest.

Being diagnosed with a lifelong condition is an opportunity to take stock of my life and to not let it pass me by. My condition does not define me.

IBD is an invisible illness. Many people will learn I have been living with UC only now after having known me for many years. It’s not the only invisible illness, and it’s important we remember to not judge people without understanding their circumstances.

What is a ‘bad day’ for you?

A bad day could mean severe pain, frequent toilet visits and/or nausea and vomiting.

Depending on the severity of a ‘bad day’, it may mean I work only blocks of time or sometimes take the day to rest so tomorrow is a better day. A few of my clients know I have UC, and if I’m suffering from a flare or bed ridden for the day, I keep them informed.

Best bits of being a Chronic Entrepreneur?

Working from a home office has some advantages – the toilet is close by; the commute is only seconds, and I can wear whatever I’m comfortable in! It also helps that I can work the hours that suit me.

Worst bits of being a Chronic Entrepreneur?

Most of my clients, choose to work with me personally, so if I’m not well, and need to take some time off, there isn’t anyone else to cover. It also means an increased workload when I return after being unwell.

What advice would you give your younger self?

From the perspective of good health – never take your health for granted.

Related – An Open Letter to My Younger Entrepreneurial Self

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

[i] Source https://worldibdday.org/about-us

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