Lisa’s Story – Diverticular disease

‘Diverticulosis’ is when pouches are formed along the bowel wall. Most of the time, these pouches are completely harmless. Sometimes, they can cause symptoms for people like Lisa, which is referred to as ‘diverticular disease’. This affects 1 in 3 to 1 in 2 people in the UK in their lifetime. When these pouches become infected or inflamed, they are referred to as ‘diverticulitis’.

Tell us about yourself Lisa

“I’ve worked in many places over the years and volunteered for charities too, but my most recent and best job has been in a school. I’ve not worked for a while due to heart conditions, so I’ve recently taken up an allotment. I adore gardening but could never find the time previously – four children and a full-time job kept me busy enough!

I love to crochet, knit and read. I run a number of Facebook groups too, one for people with diverticular disease.”

How did you find out your had diverticular disease?

“I remember my Grandma struggling with bouts of diverticulitis when I was a child. Back then, she was told to avoid nuts and seeds, so she’d avoid tomatoes like the plague!

I had my first colonoscopy (camera up the bottom) in my 20s, as my constipation was severe. They discovered I had slow transit and a kink in my bowel, so they struggled to get a camera through.

In my 30s, I had another colonoscopy as a doctor feared I might have a bowel tumour (but it turned out to just be poo!) This showed diverticulosis in my bowel. I do have diverticular disease, as I experience symptoms like pain on my right-hand side. When diagnosed, I was told to eat cheese?!

Of course, years on, we now know the evidence says that I don’t need to avoid eating anything, or should eat anything in particular. I’m able to eat a normal diet, food and drink doesn’t give me symptoms.

My constipation has been severe my whole life. Without laxatives, I have been four weeks in the past without a bowel movement.

I’ve had episodes of mild diverticulitis (infection) too. My symptoms begin with abdominal pain that grows more intense, I develop a fever, chills and my temperature rises. Antibiotics always fight off the infections for me. It’s important to know what’s normal for you, that way you can notice new symptoms better.2

Did finding Guts UK help?

All I want is for people to have the right information when they need it, and that’s exactly what Guts UK does. I love that they do the whole digestive system from top to tail – I despair at the lack of information in this area of health.

Since discovering Guts UK, I’m better able to support people in our Facebook group with information on this condition and their other symptoms. It’s comforting and personable to read. Everything they do is person-centred.

Knowledge is power. There’s so much nonsense out there, and people profiting off it. There are unqualified people giving incorrect advice. Having Guts UK as an evidence-based support resource is invaluable. Now we can all go to our appointments armed with information. We can make our own choices, and be our own advocate.

Guts UK can only continue helping and reaching people like Lisa with your support. Please donate today. Together, we will get to grips with guts! Thank you.

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