Francine was born in beautiful Grand Falls New Brunswick Canada on July 12th 1973 , Francine says her mom was afraid that she would wait to be born on Friday the 13th!! She is the youngest of 6 living children.
Francine says she had a good childhood, Although , she could not clearly speak or make full sentences until she was 3 or 4 years old, you see she has much older sisters and did not attend kindergarden she learned how to count at home, and began to read and write a little. When Francine was very young she had gone trough a horrible trauma, at the young age of 11 years old she was abused by a cousin she says she couldn’t remember that terrible encounter until lately. She says the abuser had threatened her that he would kill her parents the same way he had “killed her kitten”. The disgusting individual slashed the innocent kitten’s throat. She understandably remembers always being afraid of him after but did could not remember why.
Throughout her childhood Francine could remember never having energy to play with other kids, She was not into playing sports aways but she did sing in the choir at church, then at around 14 she learned to play the organ for the catholic church also, she remembers enjoying riding her bicycle because that was the only “sport” she had enough energy to do.
She says around the time her menstrual cycle was supposed to start she would never get them.
Francine’s says that the first signs of IBD she can remember is starting to get soft stool after I eating dairy mainly cheese or milk..
Then, when at university, she had a lot of diarrhea whenever she would be stressed.
She had her gallbladder removed in 2002. She says: “I believe it broke some stones I had in my gallbladder than I started getting sick…”
Francine says she was always overweight but after getting her gallbladder surgery she had lots of diarrhea and vomiting after meals therefore losing a good amount of weight.
She says that he went through 3 years of hell…she was diagnosed with anorexia in 2004 because she lost so much weight so quickly , she was under 100 lbs
by the time she met her ex in 2004, she was only 85 lbs, they were together for about 5 months until he got her to the hospital in Laval Quebec
Took a week for them to get her tested and then they admitted her for low potassium and low protein. She was diagnosed at 31 years old on February 11th 2005.
Francine says IBD did affect her entire relationship with my ex in a negative manner.
She says she just toughed it out, she kept putting off going to the hospital, thought she was sick because she was overweight and that I had to eat better…
As far as education goes she has a bachelor’s degree major in psychology and minor in gerontology. Her last year in New Brunswick she took the pharmacy tech course, after hurting my back working as a LPN at the Georges Dumont hospital.
She says it took her 6 years to finish her bachelor’s because she had changed 3 times first for sciences, but flunk a semester.
Francine’s says the only time she remember hearing of IBD was during her LPN course where she had a classmate with it but she was diagnosed in time.
She says IBD never effect her studies all too much, “I was lucky in a way to be able to finish my studies before getting really sick.”
She is the only person in her big family known to have IBD. But she is not the only person who is or has had gone through real sickness.
Here oldest sister had thyroid tumor lucky she got treated and is now fine.
Her other sister has MS (Multiple sclerosis) and had breast cancer stage 4 in 2010-2001, Now she is fine and getting reconstruction now.
Her father also had dad a tumor of the large intestines in 2009. He got it removed, but Francine believes the cancer had spread to his prostate, but he never wants to get checked for it.
Her father’s mother died of intestinal cancer, she just recently found this out last winter while searching for something else, “I got her death certificate on the internet”
Francine says that the lack of understanding the general public has about IBD makes her mad, she gives an example: “once one of my cousins told me oh you are cured!” the statement was relating to the fact that she has regained some of the weight she had lost “I told her, No the disease is not curable and go look for it on Google.”
Francine gave another example of the ignorance surrounding IBD:
“If you lose a lot if weight you are anorexic, I was even put in the psych ward for 2 months. They wanted me to eat and gain weight… I could not eat, bc I had pain if I did, I got laughed at by the pharmacist, Who diagnosed me anorexic” Francine says, “I knew their game, I have a major in psychology so I knew what they were going to say and do, So I did what they wanted but I could not eat!.”
She says family gatherings were hard because she could not eat what everyone else was eating , leading to awkward moments ” I could not eat anything with pepper…Or any veggies.” She said she would at time’s try to avoid going ,however, since she got a colostomy last year she can eat more normally , “except corn on the cobb
If it is cream corn I am all good.” If I had lasagna or anything with tomatoes I was sick.” she like most of us went a long time not being able to eat anything with seeds
She says she at times she uses bananas and marshmallows to keep my stool less liquidy. She says rice is great also.
Francine says she doesn’t sleep while either. “Eventually, I do sleep because of exhaustion.” She takes xanax, serax to be able to sleep
She says, that now she also has pain everywhere, she takes Lyrica for leg pain and overall pain. She has one of the main side issues to IBD chronic fatigue due to Crohn’s and the medications she take’s.
Francine had a few surgeries before her diagnosis, she had a hiatal hernia in her stomach from vomiting too much. and like we stated before she had her gallbladder removed.
Francine now live’s in Victoriaville Quebec
She did work until August 2012, however, she had lost it job because she was too sick. She worked for 3 years at the hospital, then 1 year at a pharmacy, She had to quit because she was sick but not yet diagnosed at that time. After 2 years of her diagnosis, she went to work at a call center because her LPN license was no longer valid .
She said the call center was a very stressful work environment, while working there she had gone in and out of the hospital with flare ups.
“That job was too stressful!!.” In November 2008 she got a job with a good company, they paid her even if she was sick therefore she was able to keep her medical insurance after being laid off.
In 2011 she worked in a nursing home as a LPN unofficial, pharmacy tech, because she did the pills and an orderly.
- How did you feel when you were diagnosed , Were you scared , relieved , confused?
First I was relieved because I knew what I had finally, I was not crazy.. Then I was scared and angry and saying why me?
- What was your first treatment ? did you have a choice? did it work well for you ?
Prednisone and pentasa
- What do you think of medications? do you feel they are worth the risk or do you worry a lot about the long-term side effects?
I feel that we are like lab rats, the doctors gives us something and if it does not work, then they do for something else, stronger more risks of cancer
I had cataracts because of prednisone
- What does your diet consist of? In your opinion, is diet a manager factor with IBD? , on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very much so ) where would you rank diet in the importance of IBD management?
I would say around 6 we are all different, some diet works but for me it does not help that much
- Do you have someone to turn to? family , friends to vent or were you or did you feel alone?
My family was there at first and my boy friend at the time, but after a while they get frustrated with my disease. That is why I joined an online group called We Are Crohns which went down in 2009
Then I joined other FB groups
- Do you have a “pain management routine”? like do you have a system of things you do to deal with pain?
I take morphine slow release every 12 hours , Plus gravol for nausea
I need pain pills because natural ways do not help me
- Are your friends/family understanding of your IBD? how do you feel when they are not understanding ?
Most of my friends, close friends understand, those that don’t understand are not real friends to me… A friend is supposed to be there no matter what for me like I am there for them
Feel frustrated if they don’t understand
- Do you feel as if IBD prevents you from living a full life? , in the sense of not being able to “go out”, have relationships, have the job you want, be as active as you would like …etc?
Yes it does. I love bicycling but with the fistulas in my butt I can’t and miss it. Going out is not an option right now. I walk to exercise but that is it
- What is the biggest thing that IBD has held you back from doing, is there a specific event that stands out?
IBD held me back from having children. I was always afraid to pass it on to my children. I had to pass on a good job because of IBD
- Do you feel guilty when you can not attend events due to your illness?
I used to feel guilty, however, being sick all the time for the past 12 years has made me realize that if they don’t understand they are not friends. I try to attend events when invited but if when the time comes I can’t I just call to say that I have to pass.
- How do you deal with the ignorance that surrounds IBD?
I feel frustrated because people think it’s a dirty disease, it is not. It’s an auto immune disease like Lupus, or any other. People need to read up on it because we can get other diseases with Crohn’s. i have a blood disorder that makes my blood clot if I am immobile for too long… i had a thrombosis in 2009 that could have killed me.
- Have you ever felt like giving up? how do you pull your self out of those feelings?
I have felt like giving up many times. I go on for my family, my mother especially because she has dementia now and forgets a lot.
I say why not me now
- If you could go back in time to the day you were first diagnosed and tell yourself one thing about IBD what would it be?
Hang on tight because you are in for a roller coaster ride. Don’t ever give up fighting. You may have Crohn’s but it will never have you.
- In three words, try to describe your IBD?
Frustrating, courage and life taker
- Last question. you met a new person, they have never heard of IBD before, How would you describe it to them ?
IBD is a disease like arthritis of your digestive system. When in a flare intestines swell up, so when you eat, food has a hard time going through therefore the pain… Sometimes we get blockage so then we have to only have liquids until the flare, swelling goes down
to me Crohn’s is like a cancer that kills me slowly.
(That is the first time I have heard a description , I like it)
Three tip’s Francine would like to give to a newly diagnosed person:
1- Don’t stress the small stuff, the dishes will still be there the next day
2- live life to its fullest because you never know when your time is up
3- learn to love yourself early on, because no one else will love you if you don’t love yourself first.
Is there a song that kind of describes your life with ibd if not is there a song that you listen too to help to calm down when stressed out ?
I love the song from Queen We are the champions, but the song I listen to let it all out is It’s my life from Bon Jovi
“Never judge someone if you have not walked a day in their shoes.”
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