Your Name: Vanessa Reali
Your Age Group? 25 - 29
Where are you from? Toronto
Your Profession: Registered Nurse
How many years since you were first diagnosed? August 2014 (4 years)
Diagnosis: Crohn's Disease
What do you wish someone had told you when you were newly diagnosed?
Your gut may be sick, but your gut instincts aren't something to be doubted.
What is a favourite go-to, safe food for you when you are feeling unwell?
Anything starchy...toast, rice, potatoes and pasta are always my staples!
Do you have a hot tip for how to get through a colonoscopy or a funny colonoscopy story you'd like to share?
Don't watch The Food Network during your prep!
Describe your relationship with IBD:
Like the ex that tells you they still want to be friends...
What would you like to share about your journey, (whether its how you were diagnosed, a story you want to share or a conversation you'd like to start) with the community?
The road to a diagnosis was a long and tumultuous one for me, as it is for many; I suffered with symptoms for three years prior to my formal diagnosis. Since the timing of the onset of my symptoms coincided ever so nicely with a big transitional milestone, it was easy for everyone to brush off my symptoms as anxiety. 3 years of self advocacy and a handful of health care professionals later, one doctor recognized the need to investigate my symptoms a little further. 5 months after I was formally diagnosed, the disease fought back with a vengeance and my small bowel perforated, leaving me fighting for my life. After two weeks in critical care, and nearly a month in the hospital, my body was frail and vulnerable, but my mind was strong and was not willing to accept defeat. My experience fuelled my passion for health care and encouraged me to pursue nursing as a profession.
What has been the most helpful things for you as you manage your illness? (This may be the medication you are on, your hot water bottle, your support system, an alternative medicine therapy, a book.. anything!):
My family, partner, and closest friends comprise the best support system I could have asked for. Gravol (!!!), Tylenol and I have also shared some "crazy" nights alongside the ever so popular, Netflix.