ISABELLA "IZZY" MAULDIN
My name is Isabella "Izzy" Mauldin, AKA Crohn's Fighter 13. I am so excited to be a Team Challenge Honoree! I hope that my story inspires you this season while fundraising and training your way to Madrid! This is my story, but it is only one story. There's an estimated 1.5 million stories of those living with Crohn's disease and/or ulcerative colitis.
My story began in May 2011. I started feeling exhausted all the time, ran a constant low grade fever, and it seemed like I was always at the doctor's office. My doctor looked for all sorts of things, mono, flu, various infections etc. I began having some bathroom trouble; diarrhea followed by days of constipation which led to terribly painful impactions. I was losing weight even though my diet hadn't changed. I couldn't play soccer or basketball, which I love, without becoming completely exhausted and I missed a lot of school. My symptoms were a mystery to my doctor until I developed a large abscess on my bottom. She sent me to to a surgeon who took one look at the abscess and sent me straight to the GI floor of Children's Hospital where I was admitted for tests and surgery. The abscess had formed from a fistula that was connecting the lower part of my colon to the outside of my body. A colonoscopy, endoscopy, pill cam and countless other tests led to a diagnosis of Crohn's disease in February 2012. I was nine years old.
The diagnosis was a shock but in some ways I was relieved to finally know what as wrong with me. I was then faced with what it means to live with Crohn's disease because there is NOT a cure! The first medication that I was put on didn't work. The fistula was not healing and I endured another unsuccessful surgery to try to close the fistula. I was still tired all the time, still had constant fevers, still had diarrhea followed by constipation and impactions, completely stopped growing, couldn't eat much of anything (Ensure kept me alive), and missed weeks and weeks of school. About four months after my diagnosis I began a new medication and started to feel better. The fistula began to heal, I gained some weight and my energy level increased. I am better than I was in the beginning but I still have problems. Crohn's is a very unpredictable disease and I never know from one day to the next how I will feel. When my medication wears off, my symptoms return and the medication works by suppressing my immune system so I get sick often and it take me a long time to recover. There are days when I am in the bathroom all day long and that makes going to school very hard.
When I learned that there is not a cure for IBD, I began a mission to help find one! I desperately need your help on my mission along with 1 in 200 other Americans. Even if you do not live with or know anyone that lives with IBD you can help raise awareness by sharing my story. These diseases affect so many people, yet so few have heard of them, much less know what they are. My family and I say THANK YOU for helping find a cure! I might be a Team Challenge Honoree, but you are my hero!