You see that smile? I remeber the day perfectly...I was out with friends going to a food festival in Brooklyn over the summer. I hold onto that smile even though I remeber my Crohn's Disease put a damper on that day. I remember making sure I wasn't eating too much and staying away from foods that I couldn't tolerate so I wouldn't have to urgently use the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom? Oh yeah, I costantly reevaluated my environment to know where the bathrooms were just in case.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a subspection of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, when I was just thirteen years old. Many of my classmates may remember me being in and out of school because various hospitalizations and viral infections plagued me. My soccer buddies know that I eventually had to stop playing because I became so weak and malnourished. Just two years into my journey, my case was so severe that no more medications worked for me, and I had to have my colon removed. I had multiple surgeries to remove and correct my digestive system, which had its own set of complications that I am fortunate to have survived. I now live with a JPouch, which is similar to a healthy person's colon.
Unfortunately, the surgery did not work and in the last year, I have been diagnosed with the other subsection of IBD called Crohn's Disease. I have had a couple of hospitalizations in the last year as my condition declines. I recently started a medication called Stelera along with other heavier drugs such as Predisnose and chemotherapy drugs in order to treat my Crohn's Disease. While these drugs have gotten me somewhat stable, the drugs have severe potential side effects if taken in the long-term, which can include fatal cancer, eye problems, and osteoporosis. I have big plans for next year, and I hope to stay as healthy as possible. I want to study abroad, continue working as an Emergency Medical Technician, and enjoy life as much as I can without worrying about where the bathroom is or restricting my food intake. So, my wish is to discontinue these medications as soon as possible and find a more permanent solution.
I am asking for anyone's help because every dollar is something. I am looking into clinical trials and potentially more surgery especially in New York City based hospitals. However, my insurance does not cover any hospital in the city. So, I am asking for donations to help cover these expenses. Therefore, my parents have ran into and will continue to run into multiple medical bills in order to cover procedures that are out of network. They will also have to skip days of work in order to help take care of me. I hope to raise enough so that I can get into clinical trials and/or have surgery with the peace of mind that my parents do not have to worry about medical bills or missing work. All fundraising will go to medical bills, helping me live with this condition such as dietary supplements so my diet is controlled, and medical expenses such as out-of-pocket drug costs, which can be into the thousands because of the heavy drugs I am on.
For more information about Crohn's Disease check out the website below:http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-are-crohns-and-colitis/what-is-crohns-disease/
December 1st starts Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week; so even if you don't donate, then make sure to raise understanding among your family and friends about IBD.
Thank you so much!
-Isabelle Mendez & Family
Below are some photos from various episodes over the years where my disease impacted me: