Voices Across America

Decades to be properly diagnosed with IBD

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State: Florida
Congressional District: FL03


Gastrointestinal Disease

Issues and Challenges

Kristie has encountered: Mental Health Access, Discrimination (nonmedical), Medical Discrimination, Transparency in Health Care, Underserved Community

My Story

My name is Kristie, and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012. My story is quite interesting. I started having symptoms at the age of 17 and was misdiagnosed for years. It's been 26 years now and I know first-hand how hard it is to balance life with such a debilitating disease.

This disease took everything I thought mattered to me. My job, privacy, life, etc. After one surgery I was told I'd never work again. I was 33 years old and disabled on disability. That was very hard for me to accept. I've been depressed and have anxiety on most days. I'm also a single parent. Not only do I face this, but my daughter does as well. This journey is tough at times and unbearable.

I’ve experienced some of the worst things being a patient with an “invisible disease”. Most people look at me and assume I’m fine. What they don’t know is that living with Crohn's disease can be painful, debilitating, and lonely and it’s more than just gut issues that we deal with. They don’t see all the medications we take, the days we are unable to get out of bed or off the toilet, or the fatigue we face daily.

I’ve decided to use my voice to bring awareness and educate the world on all things IBD.

My Motivation and Inspiration

In 2020 I finally got the doctor's report that there was no active disease and I'm in remission. I once shared my story then my voice was silenced. People began to make me feel bad for being sick. Recently, I became an Ambassador for Color of Crohn & Chronic Illness. I want to use my experiences to bring awareness and advocate for those who can't. I also want to shut down the many lies of "They're faking " and " They use their illnesses as a crutch". Oh let's not forget, "You're lazy".

So many things are often said to us by individuals who haven't read one article related to IBD or Crohn's disease. I want to help them understand us. We have a chronic illness for which there is no earthly cure. We didn't cause this by what we ate. We have an autoimmune disease in which our body is attacking itself.
So many of us also face challenges in receiving our diagnosis and proper care. Those disparities need to be addressed and I have the guts to do it. I want to see change for all IBD warriors.

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