Hallie McClelland's IBD Story

Hallie McClelland
This is me on the left in June 1986 at the age 15 the day after I had my large intestine removed. I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis three years prior, and my body wasn't able to handle the constant flares, loss of blood and transfusions, high doses of prednisone and side effects from the steroid, etc. I struggled through middle school both physically and mentally, culminating in another hospitalization during March Break in Grade 9. I never went back to school that year and stayed in hospital until that first surgery.

In the years between 15 and 52, I've had five additional surgeries, and even more small procedures to address continued digestive issues. With no large intestine, I don't have colitis anymore, and my original, internal pouch is in good shape; it's the tubes going in and out of the pouch that continue to cause problems.

How do I deal? Over the years, I've learned I need to "own" what I have and address it head on. I've curtailed my food, drink intake, and cut out a ton of things from my diet that I just can't ingest without issues, such as alcohol, seeds, carbohydrates, and meats. I work out regularly and I drink a lot of water. Most importantly, I work on easing stress in my life whenever possible. People with IBD know that stress is a flare factor and it's key to work on mental and physical well-being to combat it. The Serenity Prayer is on my wall in my office and I quote it often. 

None of the above are easy to do but are important to work on whenever possible

This isn't a novel, so fast forward to the picture on the right. This is a recent photo of me. I'm an incredibly grateful wife, mother, family member, friend and professional. Lover of chai lattes, hiking the outdoors, pistachios, chips, and yes, even my high maintenance bird. 

I'm grateful to be living in Canada where universal health care is available, and where top-notch doctors and health care providers are found. My life has been saved twice. Once by Dr. Zane Cohen and his team, who performed my first set of surgeries. Once by Dr. Brian Taylor and his team in London Ontario, who helped me with major blockages in 2010, a few years after the birth of my daughter. 

I'm so grateful to have turned 52 in 2023. I wasn't sure I'd be here with everything I have, given everything I've gone through. I'm grateful to be able to share my story, with the hope of helping others dealing with ulcerative colitis, or the outcomes of IBD. 

There is a community of us, ready to help where and when we can. We have stories to share. We have empathy for what you're going through. It's a hard road to travel, but know you are never alone. 

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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