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MLB & UC – An Interview with Jake Diekman, Part 2

Throughout the month of October, we’ll be spreading the word about invisible illnesses and what it’s like to live with a disease people can’t see.

Today, we’re featuring part 2 of our interview with Jake Diekman (read part 1 here) – a major league baseball pitcher who also happens to be living with ulcerative colitis. Hear his story – and enter for a chance to win a Gut it Out T shirt specially created by Jake and the Gut it Out Foundation.

7. What advice do you have for the newly diagnosed or those who are struggling with their IBD?
Find out as much information as you can about your disease. Also, listen to your doctors, they know best! I know it can be hard and you might not think the small things they tell you are important, but doing what they say will help you get through. Find out all of your options, and don’t be afraid of any of them. I was afraid to do my j-pouch surgery because I didn’t know if it would work, if I would have to have a permanent ileostomy, or if I would be able to continue to play baseball. But now that I put my fears aside, had the surgery and am doing so well from it, I am so glad I did it.

8. What has been the most difficult part about being an athlete with IBD?
The most difficult part about being an athlete with this disease has been dealing with the irritability and anxiousness. Despite my symptoms, my passion for baseball never changed and that’s why returning to the mound after my j-pouch surgery means so much to me… it’s the longest time I’ve been away from the game. Going back to the mound, healthier than ever, will definitely be one of my proudest moments because

“I can look back on all the sleepless nights, pain and discomfort, the scary unknown, and see how far I’ve come.”

9. What advice do you have for other IBDers who are considering a life in the spotlight or are involved in sports?
Just don’t let your disease stop you from doing ANYTHING. The second you let your disease define you, you can kiss your goals goodbye. It’s so important to gut it out every day, never give up on yourself, and push through the tough times. I’m living proof of that!

10. How have your teammates and loved ones supported you?
Everyone that surrounds me has been so supportive. My teammates and coaches have all sent positive thoughts and prayers my way the entire time, and having their support means the world. My family and my fiancée have been there for me every step of the way, and without them, I would not have recovered as “fast” as I have. Letting me vent when I need to, taking care of me, never leaving my side, it all played a huge part in my recovery. So thankful for them.

Learn more about Jake Diekman and his work with the Gut It Out Foundation on the foundation’s website and follow Jake on twitter.