Robin Hahn: Living with Ulcerative Colitis

Robin is a 27-year-old who was first given a tentative diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis in 2009 as a senior in college.  It wasn't until September of 2015 that she was given a definitive diagnosis of UC.  She is married and finds support in her husband, parents, and two fur babies (two black labs).


Part 16 | Coordinating with Multiple Doctors

Robin talks about the difficulties that arise in trying to manage all of the doctors that she sees. She has even resorted to making a spreadsheet to keep track of appointments, medications, etc.

About Robin Hahn

After several weeks of intense cramping and stomach pain, Robin (then a senior in college) drove herself to the emergency room in the middle of the night.  The hospital did not think much of her ailment, and sent her home after an examination and providing her with medication.  
Six years later, and a week before her wedding, results from a colonoscopy and other tests revealed that she was positive for ulcerative colitis.  She was relieved to have a definitive diagnosis so that she could move forward with managing her disease.  Robin maintains an openness about her UC with family, friends, and coworkers so that others don't have to guess about what she goes through on a daily basis.
For new patients, she recommends working closely with your doctor after you have found one that you are completely comfortable with.  Research is important, but some of the information available on the internet can be scary.  Since the disorder affects everyone differently, it is crucial to consult with your gastroenterologist to prepare and form your own unique lifestyle changes.


Learn more about the 360 interview series.


Previous Chapters: 


Part 1 | Signs of Ulcerative Colitis

Robin talks about some of the early signs and symptoms that lead to her eventual diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. As a senior in college, she began to experience severe stomach cramps and pain. Eventually, she took herself to the ER where they treated her malady as a simple case of an upset stomach and sent her home with medication.


Part 2 | Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis

Robin talks about the journey leading up to her ultimate diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. It took several flare-ups and emergency room visits before the confirmed diagnosis- just three days before her wedding, and 6 years after her original flare up.


Part 3 | Reaction to Diagnosis

Robin talks about how she felt after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The news was not a shock to her, and she was somewhat relieved to be able to move forward in trying to manage her disease. Also, she touches on her openness about her condition with her coworkers.


Part 4 | Researching on Diagnosis

Robin talks about searching the internet after finding out that she might have ulcerative colitis. At first, the information she found was overwhelming and scary, but her physician reassured her by emphasizing that each case is different and unique.


Part 5 | Tips for New Patients

Robin provides some practical advice for those who have been recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. She recommends doing research to learn about the disease, finding a gastroenterologist that you feel comfortable with, and working closely with him or her.


Part 6 | Diet After Diagnosis

Robin talks about the dietary changes she has had to make to help manage her ulcerative colitis. Primarily, she has greatly reduced the amount of dairy that she consumes. During a flare, her doctor recommended not eating any fruits and vegetables, which proved somewhat difficult because she is a vegetarian. Also, Robin describes how she worked around her special diet while living in a sorority where their meals were prepared for them.


Part 7 | Lifestyle Changes After Diagnosis

Robin talks about some of the major lifestyle changes she has had to make as a result of ulcerative colitis. The biggest adjustment, she says, is the need to always be prepared.


Part 8 | Informing Others

Robin explains what it is like to discuss her disease with coworkers. She stresses the importance of being upfront and honest, rather than hiding information. She also talks about having that conversation with a significant other, which she claims is even scarier.


Part 9 | Research on Procedure

Robin describes the process of doing research after she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Initially, her main topic of research was the medications and their side effects- specifically if they were safe during pregnancy.


Part 10 | Expectations if Condition Progresses

Robin describes how she works with her doctor regarding preparing for the future should the state of her disease take a change for the worse.


Part 11 | Tips for Those with A Strict Work Schedule

Robin offers advice to those with Ulcerative Colitis who may have an uncompromising work schedule. If your work environment is not flexible, then she recommends finding a doctor or supervisor that is.


Part 12 | Managing Stress to Prevent Flares

Robin talks about how emotional stress can be a trigger for flare-ups. She utilizes her support network, mature perspective, and planning to prevent this as much as possible.


Part 13 | Medication

Robin talks about treatment during remission versus when she is having a flare. During remission, a regimen of four medications is used for maintenance. A steroid is added when a flare-up occurs to reduce inflammation.


Part 14 | Blood Thinners

Robin talks about the balancing act of using blood thinners. Not enough could lead to the development of blood clots, whereas too much might result in blood loss and a flare.


Part 15 | Risks of Pregnancy

Robin talks about the potential risks associated with pregnancy for an individual with ulcerative colitis. It would be considered a high-risk pregnancy and would require working with an ob-gyn, hematologist, and gastroenterologist to monitor the blood-thinning process.


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