Get Your Belly Out
for Crohns and Colitis!
Have you heard about the #GetYourBellyOut campaign for Crohns and Colitis awareness? Because if you haven’t then you’re missing out on one of the biggest, most fantastic, fun awareness/charity campaigns ever. I really do have to tell you about it, because it’s brilliant.
I suffer with Ulcerative Colitis so this campaign is very close to my heart. Thankfully I’m in remission at the minute – although the disease will never go away and I will have to take a cocktail of drugs for the rest of my life to keep it at bay. But this in’t a sob story, this is a story about a lot of people uniting, being brave and facing their illness head on.
By way of explanation: Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are something that are not often spoken of, I suspect it’s because a lot of people are ashamed of the symptoms. Basically your immune system attacks itself and IBD’s specifically target the bowel. The inflammation and ulceration is so bad that many people spend hours and hours in a day or throughout the night on the loo, dealing with horrific cramping, blood loss and more. This is if we’re lucky enough to get to a loo on time……which doesn’t always happen. The bowels cease to work properly and as a result get rid of food from the body as fast as is possible in most cases. The symptoms are humiliating and embarrassing to put it mildly. The phrase ‘Never Trust a Fart!’ could not be more appropriate. Sad, but true! Some people end up with malnutrition because their bodies can’t absorb the nutrients from their food. Chronic dihoerrhoea is common, as is anaemia from the amount of blood that is sometimes lost. Ironically this often leads to weight loss, which, from experience makes people think we are healthier. I lost about a stone and a half in a couple of months at one point and everyone kept commenting on how well I looked. If only they knew!
The really sad thing is that there is no cure. Literally. If you’re lucky you can get into remission with medication, many of which have their own unpleasant side effects. If this isn’t possible Crohns sufferers have to deal with multiple surgeries to remove diseased bowel sections and people with UC end up with colostomy bags which bypass the bowel completely. IBD and related complications, still claim lives even now, although thankfully this is rarer than it was in previous decades. It’s nasty.
Anyway, enough of the’ Yuck’ stuff, and more of the ‘Yay!’ stuff. The #GetYourBellyOut campaign celebrates the fight that IBD sufferers go through. It’s also raising money to go towards finding a cure for IBD. As I mentioned before, people are often so ashamed of having such a horrid disease and it’s not talked about. I mean, who wants to admit they crapped themselves in Tesco? This means that there’s very little awareness of IBD. This campaign has gone a huge way towards changing that.
If you search for the hashtag #GetYourBellyOut on Facebook or Twitter, you will see a multitude of belly photographs: scarred from surgery, unscarred, with colostomy bags, without colostomy bags, tattooed, tanned, big ones, small ones, ones with faces drawn on them (that’s me!), all kinds of bellies with one thing in common, IBD. Someone has even uploaded a photo of a daschund that suffers with canine colitis. Fabulous! People who actively suffer with IBD have joined in, and many others are simply showing their support for friends and family who have it.
It’s actually very moving. Society is very body conscious. Every magazine I see seems to shout about ‘How to get a beach body!’ or the best way to ‘Lose a stone in a fortnight!’ or ‘Get yourself a flat stomach!’ etc etc. This can make even the most confident amongst us stare sadly at our reflections and sigh a little. Well, imagine having a colostomy bag or being heavily scarred because your bowels had a hissy fit and wouldn’t work anymore… and being faced with that. You’d think it might make already physically wounded people, even more emotionally wounded and ashamed of their appearance. But not necessarily. Many UC and Crohns survivors are in fact proud of their battle scars and their colostomy bag. They fought their disease and are still fighting. The marks on their body are the outward signs of an inward battle, which they are facing proudly and with dignity.
The Get Your Belly Out campaign shows this so clearly. IBD is usually a hidden disease, kept behind closed toilet doors for the most part. This campaign has changed that, you can actually SEE the people who are usually forced to hide their symptoms because they are so embarrassing and awful. Please, please, please browse the myriad of photos online and see how many people it has affected, read their brave, determined messages and if you’re anything like me, get a lump in your throat. You can also donate if you so wish by texting IBDA99 & your donation to 70070 or via Just Giving, the link is HERE. You could even #GetYourBellyOut, post a pic online and show your support that way, you don’t have to have IBD to take part. I’d love it so much if you did. This innovative, amazing campaign has raised £1470.00 so far and it all goes towards beating this horrid disease.
Keep in touch with this amazing campaign by liking the GetYourBellyOut Facebook page.
Heartfelt thanks for reading all of this. It means more to me than you know.