Meet Sara Ringer, our DripDrop ambassador, and this week's guest blogger. Sara has been living with Crohn's disease for over 18 years. She shares her experiences and how she became a voice for patients in her post below.
There is a game people are forced to play amongst a group of strangers. They call these games "ice breakers" but everyone knows that everyone hates doing ice breakers. The game is called Two Truths and A Lie. Do you know it? You are forced to go up to a stranger, awkwardly tell them your name (In my case I would tell you that my name is Sara), and then give them 2 facts about you that are true, and 1 statement that is a lie. My Two Truths and a Lie generally goes like this: 1. I was on the Today Show. 2. I don't have a large intestine. 3. I had 14 pet snakes growing up. Can you guess my lie? I didn't have 14 pet snakes as a kid, it was actually 15!
It's true, I don't have a large intestine. And yes, I was actually on the Today Show. Admit it, not having a large intestine is pretty cool, right?
I do think that living my life without a colon makes me unique, but I didn't always feel that way. In college when other students were doing things most college students do, I was trapped in my dorm room. I had been living with Crohn's disease for over 10 years at the time, but by the time I reached college it was out of control. In a matter of two semesters my weight had dropped to 90 pounds, I was having fevers around 103 degrees every night, and was in so much pain I was certain I wasn't going to last the year.
One of the symptoms of active Crohn's disease, for most patients, is a need to use the bathroom often and urgently. I was averaging 30 trips to the bathroom per day that were painful, urgent, and came with a lot of blood loss. The blood loss caused me to become so anemic that I was too weak to do most things, and with the pain, fevers, weight loss, and dehydration I had to quit school, lost my job, and moved back in with my parents. A month later I was hospitalized, given 3 blood transfusions, and was fed intravenously. The medications I had been taking were not working and before long it became evident that my colon had to come out before it perforated. It was a long journey that resulted in six months total in the hospital and two major surgeries.
I got out of the hospital at 82 pounds and couldn't remember the last day I had a day free of pain. I had become depressed and anxious and I was afraid that I would never have a happy life again...but slowly things got better. A couple years later I started my blog and my YouTube channel. I wanted other patients to be able to watch my videos and connect with me, and 3 years later I am the top Crohn's disease YouTuber out there! Life certainly isn't perfect - I get regular infusions to try and keep my disease in remission and at the beginning of this year I had another major surgery that resulted in 3 months in the hospital and has left me getting the majority of my nutrition this year intravenously.
I love being a voice for patients, and most recently I have become a DripDrop ambassador. I discovered DripDrop when I was asked to attend Digestive Disease Week this year in Chicago. Without my colon one of the things I struggle with is keeping myself hydrated. In fact, it is a huge issue for so many patients in my community due to diarrhea, vomiting, or intestinal surgeries. Being an ambassador for DripDrop, so many patients ask me: "do you actually use the product?" My answer is 100% yes! ORS's are effective and DripDrop actually tastes great. My favorite is the lemon flavor.
So that's me, I'm Sara, the one without the large intestine!