I was lucky enough to meet Jordan in person at an Ulcerative Colitis Patient Panel hosted by Pfizer about a year ago. He was one of the first patients with a jpouch that I had ever met in person, and he gave me hope that if I ever had to take that route for treatment, my life wouldn’t be over. Instead of letting the diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis shatter his life, he’s taken this new lifestyle as a second chance to enjoy as much as possible. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions and share your story, Jordan!
When were you diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis?
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in June of 2010.
What do you remember most about that day? Looking back, if you could tell yourself one thing about the diagnosis you were about to receive, what would it be?
I remember waking up from the colonoscopy and having my mom in the recovery room with me. I was still pretty out of it but my doctor said he could tell right away it was UC. I was pretty cloudy for most of the afternoon and I don’t think the severity of the diagnosis really sunk in until the follow up appointment. Looking back, if I could tell myself one thing about the diagnosis, it would probably be to make sure to listen to my body. There were times where I was so consumed with having the right mental attitude about it that sometimes I would ignore the obvious physical pain I’d be in.
I love that you hashtag some of your posts #lifeisa10. Will you share a bit about what life is like with a jpouch? What other medications/treatments/surgeries/lifestyle changes have you gone through to manage your disease symptoms?
Yeah that’s the hashtag I thought of using for all of my Instagram posts! It just sums up how I feel now. I’ve been living with a healthy j-pouch since the spring of 2013. It really has given me a second lease on life. I was in real bad shape before my surgeries. Of course, life is different now, and as cliche as it sounds, it is a “new normal”. But it’s so much better than being sick. I went through the catalog of medication before my surgeries, pills, enemas, infusions, suppositories, etc. Now the only thing I take is a multi-vitamin and a probiotic. A lot different from the days of 18-20 pills a day. I also pay attention to my diet and exercise, eating pretty clean 6 days a week or so and working out just about every day, at least once a day. The mental benefits are just as important as the physical benefits I’ve found.
By the way, congratulations on making the homepage for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation! Love what you are doing to raise money for the foundation. I really can’t pick between you or Will riding shirtless, so I’m donating to both campaigns. Either way, so fun! What is your favorite part about being an IBD Advocate?
Thank you! Yeah this whole riding shirtless bet has given me a ton of new motivation to stay in shape! We’re humbled to have been chosen as the national faces of the spin4 crohn’s & colitis cures event for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. My favorite part of being an IBD advocate is the opportunity to travel while helping others. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York, San Francisco and Atlanta while sharing my story and contributing to different advocacy projects. I’ve made it my mission to be a voice of positivity among IBD advocates because I feel there is a lot of negativity out there, especially in the online communities. I didn’t have anyone I could talk to who had gone through what I went through, so I want to be that guy people can turn to. I feel like if we can use our past experiences to help someone, it’s our duty to do so.
What are some of your other favorite things to do outside of IBD awareness and education?
(favorite books, music, podcasts, hobbies, activities)
Outside of creating IBD awareness I enjoy my “day job” which is a Realtor in Orange County, California. Another opportunity for me to help people. My hobbies and passions include fitness, reading (I’m in a book club and read a new book each month), riding my motorcycle, traveling, cooking (more importantly, eating!), and just spending time with friends.
What is something you have accomplished that you are most proud of?
I can think of two accomplishments right off the top of my head that I feel most proud of. I was able to study for and successfully pass the state real estate exam from a hospital bed. It was during the 5 month period of my j-pouch surgeries when I had some downtime and was able to study and take the necessary tests. The second thing is all the advocacy work I’ve been able to accomplish just since September of 2016. It’s given me a renewed sense of purpose and I’m really passionate about using my experience to help others.
Who inspires you?
Someone that inspires me is my friend/mentor Jay O’Brien. I’ve known him for about 16-17 years. He recruited me to work with him in the real estate office. The way he handles his business inspires me to strive to provide the best experience possible for my clients. Not only that, he’s also one of the most generous and selfless people I’ve ever met. He continually does things for others, not expecting anything in return or recognition.
What are some of your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress?
I’m not sure if I have any coping mechanisms for stress. I think I’m pretty lucky that I’ve trained myself to be more patient and calm these days. I do a pretty good job of letting things roll off my back and not taking too much too seriously. I use exercise as a way of meditation. Whether it’s weightlifting or indoor cycling, I use that time to clear my head and recharge.
What has been the best thing that has happened so far that would not have happened if you did not have IBD?
Other than meeting other amazing advocates like you? Honestly, the people I’ve met through my advocacy work have been absolutely incredible. Being introduced to the IBD community has been one of my life’s highlights.
What keeps you hopeful?
What keeps me hopeful is the thought that the best is yet to come. So far things are getting better and better and I can’t wait to see where things are headed.
Do you have a favorite saying, quote, mantra or song that you turn to when you need to flip your mood around?
Life is a 10! I am always reminding myself that it could always be worse. Even after all the pain and discomfort I’ve been through, it’s nothing compared to what others are going through.
Okay, time for rapid fire this or that:
Chocolate or Vanilla?Vanilla
Coffee or tea?Neither. Does Red Bull qualify?
Hot or cold?Cold
Sweet or sour?Sour
Charmin or Cottonelle?Cottonelle, I’m all about the little ridges
Dog or cat?Dog
Running or walking? Or Cycling? Walking and Cycling 🙂
Road trip vacation or resort vacation?Resort vacation
Android or iPhone?iPhone
Sunshine or rainy day?Sunshine
Dinner out at a restaurant or a nice home cooked meal? Dinner out
Doing the dishes or doing laundry? Laundry
Comedy or horror?Comedy
Fiction or nonfiction?Fiction
Cake or pie? Cake
You’re in the waiting room about to leave after a follow up visit with your GI. Someone else is in the waiting room and they were just diagnosed with a chronic disease. They catch your eye and then ask you “How do I get through this?”
What do you say?
In this situation I’d give them a couple pieces of advice. First thing I’d say is to keep your sense of humor through the journey. If you don’t learn to laugh (at yourself, especially) you’re going to lose your mind. The second piece of advice I’d give is to be your own advocate. Learn as much as you can, take your health into your own hands, and never stop asking questions. You’re going to get through this.
Make Sure to Say hello to Jordan and follow his awesome advocate work on his social media accounts below.