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Meet a Girl With Guts: Manda

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My name is Manda Barger. I am 33, and I am a working mother with Crohn's disease, living here in Kentucky. Before I had my son, I was diagnosed with UC. Pretty much, I had just seen my general GI, given this mesalamine, and just pushed right out the door, have a good day. I didn't know back then that during postpartum that you have an increased risk of flaring. And so that's pretty much exactly what happened. Postpartum was really hard for me as a mother. I was having nursing issues with my son. I had to get back into my job a lot sooner than I physically and mentally should have. And symptoms started getting worse and worse especially urgency and bleeding. And trying to balance between that and work had been a struggle. But the personality in me kept driving to do more. I kept seeing my general GI and just keep pushing more and more types of mesalamine until finally they were saying that we would probably have to start a biologic, not really knowing what that entailed back then and between that and not having them really listen to my actual symptoms and my actual problems while going through flares and trying to go through the treatment options that they were giving me, it was very, very humiliating, it was very isolating. Thankfully, I had a very supportive family. But it was still so — it was at a point that I was at probably the darkest place that I've ever been. I didn't feel like I had control of my own body. I didn't feel like I was doing any good for my family, much less my newborn son, which especially during postpartum. And so there's a lot of anxiety of what you're doing right to begin with, much less trying to go through this. And at some point in time, I sure enough, looked up into Girls With Guts It seemed like one of the first places to talk about these types of bathroom issues without really being judged, which is what, you know, the group is about. And it was between that group and my family pushingthat I finally sought for a second opinion which was to go to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee which is two hours away from where I live. And upon that learning that no, I actually had moderate Crohn's. By going to Vanderbilt, it changed my life, really. I was able to see their IBD clinic, which specialized in Crohn's and UC. I was able to see a doctor that took the time to actually talk with me instead of just sending a nurse practitioner to send me a diagnosis. We're talking about diagnosing someone with a chronic disease that they'll have for their entire life. In that, I struggled a lot with this new position, right when I had Alex, some managerial positions opened up in my newsroom. I work in broadcast journalism. And in that process, I applied for one job. I was forced to do a job interview while on maternity leave, which I now have found out is illegal. And I was not given the position because I, quote, ‘didn't it wow him.’ But was offered a different type of managerial position, which put me into a different element. It put me from broadcast journalism into digital media, which looking back on it now is definitely a godsend. But in that role, trying to manage people, and as you can tell from what I just mentioned, having a boss that really doesn't care. I battled with a two-year flare and then as soon as it was going well, another blow at work came and having my symptoms get worse again, now that was finally my sign that I had to leave my career. The career that I went to school for, the career that I interned and worked for while in school. In broadcast journalism, you're having to force to do a lot of things at once. It’s good if you can be a Jane-of-all-trades. I had put so much into trying to change my community by working in broadcast journalism to tell people’s stories and to try to shed light on the truth. But I couldn't do it anymore. With with my son, with my husband, they deserved more of my time healthy, than a place that truly, really didn't care about me did. Even though my heart and passion is still into storytelling, it was a crushing blow to have to make that decision, but it eventually had to be made. Now, a year later, I've been able to find a different job, and it is fulfilling a lot of my needs. But more importantly, it’s also given me a lot more time to payback to the group that originally allowed me to advocate for my health, which is Girl With Guts.

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Duration: 4 minutes and 40 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 0
Posted by: ibdgirls on Apr 27, 2021

We wanted to ask IBD/ostomy patients, "If you could tell one story about living with your condition, what would it be?" These were the results!

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