Hey Moniqua, can you please share your last 24 hours with us? (Give us an insight to the day and life of Moniqua)
During the week, my day is pretty basic. Wake-up, pray, breakfast & coffee, catch up on my reality shows (total reality junkie!), workout, shower, get some work done for work, lunch, run errands if need be, prepare dinner, dinner with hubby, wind down with hubby, bedtime.
What inspires you every morning to get up and start the day?
Hmm, good question! Honestly that God has given me another day to live life. I’ve been given a 2nd chance to live my life after my surgeries for my autoimmune disease. I am so blessed and thankful to have this opportunity. My journey overall inspires me to keep pushing each day.
You were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Can you please tell us what the first few weeks of diagnosis were like for you?
I tried to erase those days, but it was by far very very difficult. It was life-changing and truly affected me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was definitely in denial about my diagnosis, I was angry that this disease “chose me”. It took me a while to accept my disease and adapt to the changes.
Did you know anything about UC prior to diagnosis, if so, what did you know?
Not really, my cousin has Crohn’s so I was somewhat familiar with the idea. However, I did not know the depth of change it could do to my body and overall life. It was a HUGE learning curve for my family and I. I definitely didn’t know how much it could impact my body and mental state.
Can you remember whether your ‘new life’ challenged, or impacted friendships/relationships and if so, how? (Were people supportive?)
My new life most definitely impacted those in my life. For my family, it was more so understanding the disease and how they can support me in every way. As mentioned I was very angry and down about having UC so the first month or so I stayed home. My friendships at the time that I had weren’t really impacted, I would say they just didn’t understand the severity of it. I truly have to thank my amazing family for getting me through those dark and tough days. So blessed!
You’re now heavily involved in a community in helping support others who have ulcerative colitis. Can you please tell us about ‘patient coaches’? And what inspired you to get involved?
I came across Patient Coaches last year, it has been a year since I have been part of this awesome program. PC is a free service under the 11 Health Company, we are patients helping other patients in our community. I love it because I get to give back to my IBD family, help advocate, and provide support, guidance, & care to my patients. It is everything I stand for and love under one roof!
Do you feel as though joining this community has helped you on your journey to better health? And if so, what can you recommend to others who feel ‘victimized’ by the disease to feel empowered again?
ABSOLUTELY! Besides the love and support of my family and husband, the IBD community has truly helped me along the way with my own journey. This disease has the power to make you feel so alone in the process please know you are not alone at all! There is a world of us out there so willing to help in any way possible. You will get through it, as I always say this too shall pass and that the storm eventually passes and the sun comes out.
What have you adopted into your life to help you get ‘better’? Have you changed your diet or lifestyle?
I would say I am constantly learning to better myself and mindset with this disease. I still have good and bad days but I definitely feel more equipped with being able to handle the tough days. I, of course, had to change my diet and lifestyle which was very challenging for me to accept even until now at times. But with my new life as a JPouch-er, I am able to live my life to the fullest even with my adjustments that I had to adapt to. It may be challenging but it’s not impossible.
You’re pregnant now! Congratulations! What has that journey been like for you? And what advice can you give to those who are in a similar situation of wanting to get pregnant?
Ahh yes, I am—Thank you!! The journey has been unpredictable with hidden blessings in a nutshell. When my husband and I initially wanted to start trying in 2016, my UC took a turn for the worse and I fell out of my 5-year remission. We had to put our plans on pause until I went through my 3 phase surgery, even then I was told that it may be hard to get pregnant. My faith played a huge role in this whole process, I left it in God’s hands.
We waited a year after my last surgery and tried September of 2019, we found out 3 days before Thanksgiving that I was pregnant! I truly believe in timing, patience, and NOT COMPARING yourself to other people. 20 weeks in with my sweet baby girl and JPouch and so thankful they are both cooperating with one another (haha). Super blessed!
Okay, now for the fun stuff. We noticed that fashion hugely inspires you. Have you ever thought of creating ‘designer ostomy bags?’ Or anything similar?
Yes, fashion has been my biggest outlet of escape when it came to this journey. I went to fashion school in LA for a year and got my degree. I worked in NYC for 2 years as a fashion stylist, fashion overall has been with me through my whole UC/surgery journey until now.
I personally never had the desire to design anything, I used it more as an empowering tool to show my fellow IBD warriors that even with a bag, with scars, with this disease you are just as strong and beautiful (or handsome). For me, fashion was my escape from my reality, my way to express how I felt. It was my go-to!
Can you please share an awkward, yet hilarious moment that you’ve had since diagnosis of UC? (I pooped on my mother in law’s white kitchen floor haha)…
Ahh haha, I certainly have a lot but the one that stands out the most to me was in the early days of my UC diagnosis. I was still in between figuring out what medication best works for me and my UC o I decided to go to Nordstrom to shop a bit.
I went into the fitting room and as I was trying on some items, I felt that obnoxious urge for the bathroom, I knew I wasn’t going to make it and well I had my first accident. At the time I was mortified and devastated but now I can laugh about it and realize those accidents do not define me. I am stronger because of this whole journey!