Friday, December 31, 2010


Regardless of when New Year’s is celebrated – 1934, 1968, or 1991 – there have been two token things that people wish for – a happy and healthy new year. But if we’re wishing for it every year, does that mean it didn’t come to be the year before?

Like virtually everything – happiness and health are all relative. Particularly for IBDers, health takes on a different notion, staying out of the hospital vs. being admitted, being in remission vs. spending life in the bathroom – but it rarely means no pills or no doctors or no painful tests. That is not to say that we can’t be happy, happy people (or, in Grey’s Anatomy terms, shiny, happy people), it just means we’re hiking up a hill when everyone else is chilling on the plateau.

We say it again, and again, and again – happy and healthy, happy and healthy – as if by saying it, it will happen. In some ways, those wishes are alike our idea of fate – regardless of what we do, it will happen. But that makes little real sense – we know we have to work for what we want.

Happy and healthy doesn’t – and shouldn’t – mean predictable. It shouldn’t put us in a turkey-coma like state where all you want to do is sleep, rather happy and healthy should be energizing, exciting, thrilling, fulfilling, and inspiring. Six months ago, I would never have imagined owning literally hundreds of ostomy bags or laughing at the grocery stores’ reusable bag plea ‘BAGS FOR LIFE’, but my colon clearly had other plans. When I decided to take up running (which yes, seems like an oddly impulsive habit to instantly have), my Mom asked why, to which (after a moment of thought) I replied, “Because I can.” I have two feet, sneakers, and am healthy enough to do it.

Personally, happy and healthy means fighting harder to find the cure for IBD, working hard in my classes, eating EVERYTHING I can, running, doing yoga, babysitting kids, reading, watching Grey’s Anatomy, and having the opportunity and energy to do what I want.

And so, I do not only wish everyone a happy and healthy year, but instead a year filled with laughing so hard it makes your sides hurt, friendships that make you happy, people who love you because you’re you, the best food you’ve ever eaten, well-deserved success from hard work, and many moments that make you so happy to be right where you are.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The meaning of Christmas...To me!

Christmas Time! What do you think of when you hear the word Christmas? Some think of gifts, others food, and others family. I would normally think of setting up the tree, decorating it, setting up the village, having all my sisters home, having boxing day supper, reading the night before Christmas, getting pajama’s from Nana on Christmas eve, and so many more traditions.

The last 3 Christmas’ however bring me back to Christmas 2006, and therefore the word Christmas reminds me of being sick. I started to get Crohn’s symptoms in October 2006, and by Christmas time it was just unbearable. I still hadn’t been diagnosed but I was on many wonderful Crohn’s medications, such as prednisone. I was spending a fair amount of time in bed, regardless of the medications. I’ve looked back through pictures of Christmas day, and you can see me in the background behind my niece. I’m lying on the couch, and you can actually see the pain on my face.

Christmas dinner for us is generally on boxing day, we’re all just too tired Christmas day. I wanted so bad to be able to sit at the table and eat, even if I could only handle some potatoes. By this point of my sickness I was blacking out every blue moon. I got up out of bed, and tried to go eat supper, but when I walked around the corner I blacked out. I could normally just keep walking and pretend nothing was going on, because I would generally only black out for a couple of minutes. However, this time, a waist high box stood in my way! How do you explain walking into a box that big? I couldn’t, so I just turned around and went back to bed. Mom got me a hot water bottle, and dad came in after he ate and fed me some potatoes as I laid in the fetal position, rocking and crying. At least I still got my potatoes! ☺

When I was sick only a few tricks helped manage the pain, one was to lay in the tub in very hot water for hours! I would set up my DVD player, watch movies, and relax as much as possible. I would put on underwear and a tank top, and relax, not a care in the world, because the hot water made me relax, and eased the pains, something I required at least once a day! I actually had to get up from a family supper over Christmas and go get in the tub because I was in so much pain, but everyone understood. My Aunt even came into the bathroom to say goodbye when they were leaving.

I missed out on so much that Christmas, but I’ve made up for it all. Actually, I missed out on a lot when I was sick, my 19th birthday, Christmas, Easter, to name a few, but there are more birthdays, more Christmas’ and more Easters to come and I will make the most of every single one!

“I have Crohn’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease does not have me”
~Colleen Lynn

Saturday, December 25, 2010

12 Days of Christmas: Day 12: TP the Tree

Final challenge on Christmas Day!

Got some extra toilet paper.... we know you do!! Forgo the popcorn and garland this year and add some decorative toilet paper to your tree today!

Have a very merry Christmas and a very healthy new year,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Color Me Happy

There are certain generic greetings offered lamely at the holiday season including: A) It’s so good to see you! B) How are you enjoying school? What are you studying again? C) Oh, I’d love to get together but I’m so busy, things are crazy! D) Well I’m in a hurry, I’ll see you soon!

And while I (and everyone else) still get my fair share of these sayings thrown out in passing, I have also been pleasantly surprised at the genuine concern my hometown inhabitants have expressed.

People notice different things about me now - but mostly that I have more color in my cheeks. It makes me smile, of course, but also wonder what I looked like this past summer and 7 years prior - pale, surely, and possibly slightly sullen, tubes and all. But now, with my secret weapon of an ostomy bag, I’m ready to take on the world.

The other day, my younger sister looked me over and, with her eyebrows knitted in confusion, said, “Wait, where’s your bag hiding?” This made me laugh and when I lifted my shirt to show her, she said, “Oh, you can’t even see it” to which I replied, “Hence, the point.”

I have strapped myself in yoga gear, have done my downward dog and sun salutations - all while covertly going to the bathroom in the bag - and no one would ever know. As I engaged in a rather skilled pillow fight the other night with the kids I was babysitting, I was thrilled at the uneventfulness of my bag in relation to the rest of my life. The sheer fact that a young child can bounce his or her way into my lap, their tiny weight against the bag, and that nothing will happen is ordinary and marvelous. It’s not only the surgeon or other people telling me that I can do anything, it’s experiencing it for myself.

Last night, when I was drawing a picture of the little girl - let’s call her Gracie, who’s 4 - and said to her, “I’m going to use red for Gracie’s lips”, she later looked in the mirror, laughed grandly, and reported, “I DO have red lips!” As I look into the mirror, I do not see the girl with the NG tube, or the PICC line, or the girl with black circles under her eyes, pale as the moon, or the girl who is crying from the pain. I see the girl who survived all of that, coming out smiling, the girl who for the first time in her life, has real color in her face and her life.


12 Days of Christmas: Day 11: Laughter's the best Medicine

Have you laughed today?

Better yet, have you made someone laugh today?

Day 11 challenge: tell a joke to your pharmacist, or anyone at a Christmas Eve party tonight! Spread some cheer, and some jokes, as you prepare for Christmas!

And now, the oldest joke in the IBD book - "Rectum, it damn near killed him!"


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 days of a GG Christmas: Day 10: Call and thank a health care provider that has positively influenced your life!

There has to be that one person that helped just a little bit more, cared just enough, or was even just there for you! I know I have a few. How about letting them know just how thankful you are for them! Let them know just how much they influenced your life!

3 Days until Christmas everyone!!!

Merry Christmas!

Colleen Lynn

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of a GG Christmas: Day 9: Give a Christmas Card to Someone You Admire or Someone You Dont Know Well

12 Days of a GG Christmas: Day 9: Give a Christmas Card to Someone You Admire or Someone You Dont Know Well

Its nice to feel appreciated, if you like, you can even add a little note touching upon the good qualities that you like in this particular person. Get creative! have fun :)


Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of a GG Christmas: Day 8: Buy a coffee for the person in front of you in line at Tim Hortons

This one is a good one!!!

How nice would it be to have someone buy you a coffee? Especially at this time of the year when things are so busy, you could really catch someone off guard and with the Christmas spirit by doing something really small for them.

So this is how its done:

1. There's always a line up at Tim Hortons... even at the ones that are right across the street from each other :P ... order 1 extra coffee in addition to yours. Leave it with nothing in it for the person behind you to put in the amoutn of cream and sugar that he/she likes.

2. Say Merry Christmas with a big white pearly smile ;)


Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of A GG Christmas: Day 7 - Do Something that Scares you!

12 Days of A GG Christmas: Day 7 - Do Something that Scares you!

What the heck?!?!?! Yes! Challenge yourself to do something that is out of your normal schedule or way of going about your day. Sometimes these experiences can be the ones that add your life the most!

So, to complete this task (and its a tough one) ask yourself honestly what makes you nervous, or scared... why does it make you nervous or scared? For most people, its public speaking. Jerry Seinfield said in an episode of Seinfield that the number one fear in the world is public speaking, and number two is dying... so at a funeral, most people would rather be the person in the casket than the person giving the speech. lol. Interesting. But I can definitely say public speaking makes me nervous... but I do it anyways :) (and I joined Toastmasters so that I can do it every week ;) haha)

try it for yourself - and share what you did!

Here's a few examples:
1. Say hi to the stranger beside you on the bus and initiate a conversation
2. Speak up to someone who hasn't treated you fairly
3. Make a commitment to learn a new hobby that you've always wanted to do, but never thought you could do it (like learning the play an instrument, or paint, or anything!)

WARNING: No jumping off bridges or buildings unless its supervised by a liscenced professional and you're attached to a bungee cord ;)


Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Days of Christmas: Day 6: Spare Some Change

Day 6 challenge coming right up!

Today's challenge - donate some loose change to the CCFC! It could be the 85 cents in your couch, or five bucks from your wallet, every penny to the CCFC goes towards the cure! You can donate online at or by sending a check or money by following the directions at .

Who knows, your 85 cents could be the key to the cure.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Home Sweet Somewhere

I am going home today.

Clarification: I am going home to Canada today.

I haven’t been home since mid summer when I left to come to Boston for surgery, this will be my first pilgrimage home with an ostomy. So much has changed in the last 18 weeks it doesn’t even seem possible.

College makes ‘home’ a dependent variable - is it the school year, or is it a break - because it depends. Really, I live in Boston, I live here most of the year. But I will always be from Nova Scotia - so the question begs to be asked, where is my home?

According to the saying, ‘home is where the heart is.’ But I don’t think that means where your heart belongs per say, I think it means where you are, where your heart is. If you are at home, or at peace, with yourself, then anywhere can be home.

If I can be so bold as to tweak the saying, ‘home is where the toilet is.’ A good bathroom can not be underestimated or undervalued, so as long as there’s a good toilet, almost anywhere can be home.

I am excited to do a million things at home. I haven’t seen my siblings in months, or my dog. I will be able to eat when I’m home, cook, visit people, start running, sleep in late, get my driver’s license. I will be able to live. That is remarkable, that is such a change.

Home sweet somewhere, here I come.


12 Days of Christmas: Day 5: Pick up the Telephone

It's day 5 of our IBD challenges Gutsy people!!!!

Today, we invite you to call your best girl or guy friend - or both! - and tell him or her how much you love them! Gutsy IBDers have Gutsy friends that deserve "I love you"s at the holiday season!!

Who are you going to call?


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days of Christmas. Day 4: Donate a food item to the poor!

Hey Gutsy Generation,

Already its day 4! Time is flying...only 9 more days until Christmas!

Todays challenge: Donate a food item to the poor!

This is a pretty easy one, there are so many ways to do it. Try something original, something out of the ordinary! It could be the way you donate it to what you donate! Let us know what you've done! :)

Enjoy the season!

Colleen Lynn

Challenge #3

Hey Gutsy Generation,

It's time for challenge #3?

Today it's kind of easy, Say "Hello" to a random person. It could be as easy as walking down the street! Let us know if anything interesting happens!

Good luck!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Relationships…At one point it was something I didn’t think much about. I didn’t care if I had a boyfriend or if I didn’t. I only dated a handful of people before I got sick, and none of them were serious relationships. And maybe saying a handful is a bit of an exaggeration because I really didn’t have many relationships. I was happy with just having friends. Once I got sick I guess it became someone to lean on. Someone to help me when I was sick or down. I got sick about 4 years ago now, and I’ve dated more people in the last 3 years then I think I did in my whole life.

In saying that, it’s never easy to date. Not only do I have Crohn’s Disease but I also have an Ileostomy, not exactly a first date conversation! The first guy I dated after I got sick was great about everything he looked it all up and found out everything he could, which was great because I still wasn’t 100% open about talking about it all. The next guy didn’t mind, as long as I was healthy, and so most of my relationships went. I think it took about a month before I told my first boyfriend about everything. I was scared of what he would think, what he would do, and whether he would accept it, and thankfully he did. I’m still scared when I tell a guy about everything. What if I fall for someone, what if I love someone and they don’t want to be with me because of everything. I know that he definitely isn’t worth it if he doesn’t accept me the way I am, but it still isn’t easy.

I learned that guys aren’t worth it if they don’t accept everything, but I learnt it the hard way. I dated one guy, and once I told him about everything, he seemed ok at first. I went to work, and he said while I was at work he would look everything up. Needless to say, I never heard from him again. I guess he got scared, maybe it was too much for him to handle, but it hurt. He could have done it all so differently, but he didn’t, and I had to accept what he did, and why he didn’t want to be with me. I think that made me a bit more cautious, I told guys quicker because I didn’t want to get hurt. I would tell them right away, that way if they wanted to leave then they could just take off before I got attached. I would no longer be hurt because someone didn’t want to deal with my disease. When it really comes down to it, they don’t have to really deal with it. They just have to understand what I’m going through.

I guess in the end as hard as it all was to accept it made me stronger. It made me accept everything that I have to deal with on a daily basis, and it made me realize that no guy, no matter how much you may like/love them, is worth a single tear. (And no girl is either.) If they love you then they wont care about anything, and if they care or it bothers them, then they aren’t worth your time!

“I have Crohn’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease does not have me!”
~Colleen Lynn

12 Days of Christmas - Day 2: Writing a Letter

Hey Gutsy Generation,

Ready for challenge #2?

The challenge (if you choose to accept): write a letter to someone that compliments them for the positive impact they've had in your life.

..... then tell us who you wrote to!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 Days of Christmas - Day 1: Hugs :)

Hey Gutsy Generation,

Today marks the first day for the 12 days of the gutsy generation Christmas... and day 1 's task is to:

Give 5 hugs today.

There's no real rules as to who to give these hugs to... so get creative! And let us know who you shared your hugs with...

Hugs from me to me :)
Ash :)

Introducing: The Gutsy Generation 12 Days of Christmas!!!!!

Hi Gutsy Generation Superhero's!

Your Youth Advisory Council thought it would be a cool to count down the 12 days of Christmas - we begin tomorrow (or in 15 min, if you want to get technical :P ) and here is the basis of it:

Each day we will post on the blog and via facebook and twitter the themed activity for the day... so what could this themed activity be?! Well... you'll just have to wait and see! We're hoping we can all come together and get involved in these daily activities as we count down the days to Christmas - let's have fun with it, guys! Post and write your feedback on each activity! And if you have ideas - let us know too! Maybe we'll sneak it in between now and Christmas! This is open to everyone and most of these are 'Gutsy' themed ;)

Hope your Christmas shopping is going well, and you're taking time to begin to enjoy the holiday season.

Hugs from one individual living with IBD to another,

Ash :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Red Binder Collection

Humanity has a record of life - fossils, hieroglyphics, the Bible, Shakespeare, movies, telegrams, letters, postcards, emails, and blogs. And I have a red binder collection.

Although it may be no ‘MacBeth’, my red binder collection is my budding collection that will see an adoption of a third red binder today. What, you may ask, are these binders and what do they contain?

The simple answer: work. Each semester, I collect my best and favorite work from my classes along with important handouts and I cluster them together in a lovely little red Boston University binder. The goal: 8 red binders by graduation. Progress: right on track.

Many university classes have given way to the ‘green’ shove and have students submit work online. But at the end, I like to have a physically tangible object to hold and look back over. So I print essay after essay, syllabus after syllabus to file them for posterity in my red binder.

The red binder is an accomplishment - a Cesarean “I came, I saw, I conquered”. This past summer, my Grandad rifled through the books - dutifully reading every piece of paper I had slotted in there. It’s my bridge to my family - and ‘here-look-what-I-did-at-school’ for them to hold on to.

There are moments when you want to hold your arms up the sky and smile, when you feel like you’re in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. I have had so many moments like that during my time at BU, but especially this semester. I am right here right now, I fit into the world, and my work fits into that red binder.

I came. I saw. I tried. I worked. I conquered. And then I put it all in a red binder.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Topic 2: The SCD Diet

Hey Guys,

Some people, who i've met in person have found relief (even complete remission) when following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet popularized by ELaine Gottschall's book: Breaking the Vicious Cycle. You can check out her website at: . This website tells you the theory that this way of eating is based on. Some people have found relief, others have not. But, if it could help you, even a little bit, I figured its worth the while - but firstly, do your research first, and make the decision for yourself. I myself have not been successful with it - but I thought if a large chunk of people have found relief, then why not try to spread the word if theres a high possibility it could help someone else? And for the people that haven't found success in it - what happened? If you feel like sharing - let's get the discussion going! Researchers are actually looking into this particular kind of diet and WHY it is helping some people.

If you want more information on it there's a popular site that people have checked out and found helpful: .

Right now too, two guys have made a more modern style site that tries to help others enhance their success with this diet:
They have lots of recipes, and blog entries to learn more about this way of eating and the struggles you might face along the way. They have also recently been interviewing 'friends' (others with cool websites with more information and support for those trying the diet).

Two nice cook books that are popular on amazon are (I have a copy of these too - they have nice pictures):

1. Eat Well Feel Well - By Kendall Conrad
" When her daughter was diagnosed with a dangerous digestive problem that left her weakened and sick, author Kendall Conrad started searching for a way to save her child’s failing health. The answer came when a nutritionist recommended the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Created by Elaine Gottschall, this revolutionary program is extraordinarily effective in relieving the debilitating and often painful symptoms of ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, and other common ailments. Simply by eliminating virtually all starch and complex sugars and eating a balance of smart carbohydrates, good proteins and fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, many people experience a complete restoration of digestive health. For Conrad’s daughter, the results were incredible. Thrilled with her daughter’s rapid recovery, she began creating recipes for delicious dishes for the whole family, following Gottschall’s guidelines, without sacrificing an ounce of taste or variety."

2. Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn's and IBS - Sandra Ramacher

The Crohn's and Colitis FOundation of America has even recognized its potential: .

So, remember - I am in no way endorsing anything here - just trying to hear what other people have to say about this and spark dicsussion - So share something!!! Post a comment! I really want to be alive when we find the cure for IBD.

If you've used a complementary or alternative medicine therapy that has helped you - why not spread the word? There's a guy named Reid Kimball putting together a DVD:

As Taken directly from his website: (
"WANTED: Crohn’s End is a documentary featuring people with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis who have opted to use alternative treatments when nothing else is working. They have listened to their gut and took a proactive approach to ending their disease."

So, if you have found success with something, maybe you've wanted a chance to share it with others that have also found success too. You can here:



Hey Gutsy Guys and Gals ;)

Super exciting news: Do you want to see me in a DVD? lol, jk, I know you don't but, that Crohns DVD that I mentioned before is now available through the CCFC website. Order your FREE Copy at . Enjoy :)
Let me know what you think - loads of interesting topics with a realy focus on the positive side of Crohns - its loaded loaded loaded with inspiring stories - how great is that? :)


Friday, December 3, 2010

Calm Down

The other day, I met with a professor about a research project proposal I am submitting for next semester. I have been working on it - with him - for the past few weeks and the deadline is next week. I met with him bright and early, my cheeks flush from the chilly weather and a raspberry tea secured in my hand. He smiled at me and we both sat down.

“Jennie,” he said, “you are very energetic and hardworking and smart,” he paused, “but you have to calm down.” My smile widened as he cleared his throat. He continued to explain my eagerness needed to be tamed, that the application would get in on time and that I had time to breathe.

I didn’t interrupt him, or correct him, though I could have. It wasn’t really about not being calm, it was about finally having the time and the health to do the project. If anything, I was finally calm because I could look at a calendar and not have to plan in flare ups and hospitalizations, surprising to me (but probably not to the non-IBD community) there is a lot of time to get things done.

Maybe it’s because it’s December now, which means an impending holiday break and a prodigal return home, or maybe it’s because it’s been over 16 weeks since my slicing and dicing. Or maybe it’s just because. Whatever the reason, I have had many flashbacks to my summer and all of the things that happened. First there was the little babies that I looked after, then a scope, then hospitalizations and needles and TPN and tubes and roomies, and Boston, and more tubes and needles, and surgery, and recovery. My biggest frustration throughout the summer was being unable to be productive. I hated sitting in my bed watching television for hours and hours on end, I wanted to be doing things in the real world and to be contributing to it.

So now that I am back on my feet, I don’t want to stop doing things. It is fulfilling and exciting to be able to rely on my body for once. My professor has a point - you have to be calm to see clearly and think clearly. But... maybe calm chaos isn’t so bad.

Take a deep breath, and get excited - you have the whole world waiting for you.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Exploring New Horizons... TOPIC 1: Probiotics?

Hey Gutsy Guys and Gals,

So... Maybe its just the person that I am, but Im ALWAYS looking for a CURE for Crohns (and Ulcerative Colitis) and I've been looking since I was 9 and went to visit a Naturopath. So I know the area of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAMs) is complex and there are many many treatments that fall under this realm but I really want to reach out with others that may have delved down this realm too... I want to make my next blog posts about different things that I've tried. Im really curious to know if anyone else has tried these things also. Im really curious to know what things have helped make their disease more manageable.... and I want to make this just a discussion, not a push for any such treatment... we're all different and what works for someone DOESNT work for everyone... I know this... I've tried lots of things.

So how about we delve into the first one: Probiotics. In my science undergrad at McMaster University I worked with Dr. John Bienenstock (One of the forefathers to discover the Gut-Associated-Lymphoid-Tissue - or the GALT) in his lab in Hamilton, called the Brain and Body Institute. There I did my thesis on the latest reviews on probiotics and commensal organisms (Bugs that are found in our gut). I was super super glued to everything I could learn on probiotics and these 'bugs'. I got to check out live intestine's in a waterbath. They were sectioned and placed in here and oriented so that they could be straight - and you know what? Peristalsis (The contraction in our gut that moves the food along) could be visible - how is this possible when the intestines were removed from the organism??? Welll.... It gut has its own nervous system! And it could last a day or two in this electrolyte-rich water bath. AWESOME! So I got to use electrophysiology (a fancy word for measuring the nerve impulses) to see what would happen if different concentrations of probiotics were put into lumen (or the inside) of the intestines... and guess what? Yup, you guessed it, probiotics (Lactobacillis) actually produced some results! But if there's one thing I've learned about science, lots of studies need to be done prove something.

Does anyone use Probiotics? Does anyone feel better using them? How do they feel better (or worse)? Is anyone or has anyone else done research with probiotics that they could share? Any stories to share? Come on guys! Share your story with other gutsy generation youth - we're here to help each other :) And possibly learn from each other.

Hugs :) ,

P.s. Theres some great articles on the website - Check it out and keep up to date with the latest research!