A young entrepreneur and content creator known for her videos about Middle Eastern stereotypes has opened up about her 16-year-long health battle.
Veronica B was initially diagnosed with colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, when she was just eight years old before getting an additional diagnosis of Crohn’s disease a few years later.
“One day after eating fast food I suffered excruciating pains in my stomach to the point I was screaming, crying and couldn’t move,” she told news.com.au.
“My parents were in shock and took me straight to the emergency room, where I stayed for a few days and under went tests.”
Veronica B was diagnosed with colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, when she was 8.Instagram/@veronicab_
She said her diagnosis was terrifying as she – and those around her – had never heard of it before.
Veronica was “embarrassed” to tell her friends because of the symptoms associated with the conditions and was mocked by classmates.
She eventually received an additional diagnosis of Crohn’s disease a few years later.Instagram/@veronicab_
“Other kids made fun of me for having this condition, saying things such as, ‘Why can Veronica go toilet whenever she wants?’, ‘Why can Veronica miss on sport?’,
‘Why does Veronica get to hand in her assignment later?’,” she said.
“It’s an invisible disease so no one saw my sufferings to understand.”
Veronica was “embarrassed” to tell her friends because of the symptoms associated with the condition.TikTok/_veronicab_
Her health led to her being in and out of treatment, and she even had to start going to school in the hospital because she was there for a long period of time.
Veronica was forced to miss out on school camps, sport and family outings because she couldn’t leave her home.
Even as a kid, she could see the toll it was taking on her parents, who now had to learn about a debilitating condition their daughter had.
“They had to make massive life-changing decisions on my behalf, for instance getting the ostomy pouch surgery,” she said.
“This surgery was my last hope of having a pain-free life and leaving the hospital.”
However, the day before the procedure to get the ostomy bag a “miracle occurred by the Grace of God” and she no longer needed the bag despite it looking certain previously.
Veronica was forced to miss out on school camps, sports and family outings because she couldn’t leave her home.Instagram/@veronicab_
Instead, she was put on a handful of different medications which was traumatising in itself, as well as having serious side effects.
“Growing up, the bathroom was my second home. I spent the majority of my time there to the point my parents were worried I was going to get a haemorrhoid,” she said.
Veronica said there is a huge misconception about her diagnoses, and it’s due to a lack of awareness.
“The biggest misconception is that Crohn’s and colitis (IBD) is the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),” she said.
“So because the visible symptoms – like going to the bathroom often and dietary restrictions – are similar to IBS, people take you less seriously and think you’re exaggerating your condition and pain.”
The invisibility of her illness is also frustrating, because as she doesn’t look sick on the outside – or she doesn’t cry or complain – many don’t believe she is truly struggling.
“Once I was rushed to the emergency ward because I was flaring up really badly but because I was smiling and joking around, no one took me seriously. Why do I have to cry and scream in pain for people to believe I’m suffering,” she said.
“IBD patients have learnt to be tough and handle their pain so we can push through and live life, so when people tell me, ‘Oh you don’t look sick’ it makes me irritated at their naiveness.”
“The biggest misconception is that Crohn’s and colitis (IBD) is the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),” Veronica said.Instagram/@veronicab_
Veronica has spoken at Crohn’s and colitis events before but this is the first time she has spoken about her daily struggle on her social media platform, where she has 434K followers.
Last week she posted a video opening up about what she had been through.
“I’m always told I make people laugh, smile and feel less alone. I have a large following and I’m very genuine with my audience which is why I think they like me,” she told news.com.au after the video.
“I thought if I don’t open up about having IBD, then I’m being selfish. I could be helping someone feel less alone, give people the opportunity to start a conversation about IBD, bring awareness, maybe even connect other sufferers together.
Veronica has spoken at Crohn’s and colitis events before but this is the first time she has spoken about her daily struggle on her social media platform.TikTok/_veronicab_
The content creator creates videos about Middle Eastern stereotypes.TikTok/_veronicab_
“There are many silent sufferers who are too shy to even speak about their condition because of the stigma, so I decided to open up and be vulnerable about it.”
She said she didn’t want to share her story openly online until she was mentally ready to be open and vulnerable about what she has been through.
“The outcome was incredible, so many people have shared with me their stories and have spoken up about also having IBD, some sharing their treatments in the comments and supporting others, people are thanking me for being brave and making them feel more comfortable talking about their condition openly. I’m so happy,” Veronica said.
She said she hopes there are no more silent sufferers and more awareness is brought about due to her speaking about IBD.
Veronica said that she also hopes speaking out will help others get support, as she is thankful to her parents, medical staff and Crohn’s and Colitis Australia for helping her navigate her diagnosis.
“Don’t be shy, use the support systems out there,” she said. “There are so many benefits with having IBD too.
“You get special toilet cards that allow you to use any bathroom in Australia, no matter where you are, you can get extra points on your Year 12 ATAR and extensions on school deadlines.”
Now, Veronica is hosting a fundraising dinner event at Hurricanes Grill in Brighton Le Sands on May 10, with all profits going to Australian Crohn’s & Colitis Association.