Kelsey Conroy

My name is Kelsey, I am 28 years old and I work as a Health and Safety Advisor for a Construction Company. Over the past 4 years, I have struggled with my stomach and being able to go to the toilet properly. I was originally diagnosed with IBS and put on medication to manage the “IBS”, but none of those medications worked. It felt like it only made the symptoms worse - at that point I had lost my appetite and joy in eating. For anybody that knows me, this was devastating for me as I am quite the foodie and love going out for meals and cooking at home!

Fast forward to December 2023, I spent two weeks in the hospital and during that time I had a lot of tests and investigations to determine what was causing all the symptoms I was experiencing. After some debate between the consultants I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and told that I had been misdiagnosed with IBS for several years. Additionally, I had four huge boils all around my face and this was due to UC which the consultants had not seen before. Even today I have one skin lesion on the right side of my face. I also experienced hair loss, which was terrible as I take huge pride in my hair and it is never a “standard” colour.

The diagnosis was life changing and I had to get used to taking medication as part of my daily life, and attending regular blood tests and various hospital appointments. At first, I struggled a lot mentally with this as I was angry at myself that I couldn’t do as many tasks as I had once done before. Additionally, I have struggled with my self confidence and body image as I have gained weight due to medication when I have been in an IBD flare. Recently, I have decided that I am not going to let IBD define me and accept that it is part of my life but I am not going to let it win.

My job role is mainly about supporting people and ensuring that they are safe and healthy. A part of this is creating reasonable adjustments for people who have underlying health conditions so that they are able to fulfil their job role. Therefore, when I saw the opportunity to become a IBD Community Health Leader I could not resist as I really enjoy empowering and helping others which is what I hope to do in this role!

I live with my fiancé who is incredibly supportive and understanding. He has been there for me every step of the way through my IBD journey. We also have three fur babies, two guinea pigs named Cocoa and Smudge and our two year old German Shepherd, Meg. In my spare time, I love to spend time with my fur babies, go for long walks with Meg, spend time with my family and friends and play video games with my friends and fiancé. Fortnite is our favourite!

Click here to read all of Kelsey's articles on InflammatoryBowelDisease.net.

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