MY NAME IS KATY JENSON
I’m 30 and from Fife in Scotland and I work as a Senior Support Worker. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2011 following a colonoscopy. I experienced symptoms such as severe abdominal pain and diarrhoea for a number of weeks before I decided to go to my GP. Luckily I was diagnosed relatively quickly, I have a fantastic GP and she referred me to gastroenterology promptly.
For several years I plodded on, trying out all sorts of medication – firstly Pentasa and Prednisone, which put me almost into remission but as soon as I tapered my steroids I would flare again. I detested the steroids, I always felt the side effects I experienced were much more severe than my actual crohn’s symptoms. After almost 18 months on and off prednisone my consultant decided I was not responding to them and offered me the chance of Infliximab. I jumped at the chance and had 8 weekly infusions for over a year. Then during my 8th dose I suffered an anaphylactic attack – I couldn’t breathe, went bright red, felt dizzy and as though my head was going to explode. I was deeply disappointed I could no longer continue to use Infliximab, it had put me into remission and I felt as though I was able to live a relatively normal life. Following this I was moved onto Humira. After around 12 months this was deemed unsuccessful and the prospect of surgery was discussed in 2015 to remove my large bowel. I hated the thought and couldn’t bear the idea of having to live with a stoma bag I was distraught. However, I was given the chance to try out the latest biological drug on the market in November 2015 – Vedolizimab, after just being approved in Scotland in May of that year. I was the first patient in my area to receive the infusion. This was done under the watchful eye of my IBD nurse who literally sat by my bedside and stared at me the whole way through the infusion for fear of another anaphylactic attack! Luckily there was no such drama and I received around 7 infusions – unfortunately with no real signs of improvement. My disease remained active, I was constantly up to the toilet around 10-20 times each night and around 10 times during the day whilst working 12 hour shifts in a residential care home. It was really tough, I was very fatigued and generally just felt absolutely drained. I was fortunate enough to experience very little pain and cramping associated with my crohn’s so I always felt blessed in that department.