In January 2016, Attracta O’Regan was enjoying family life with her husband and four children and leading a successful and challenging career as a busy solicitor.
A month later, she was admitted to hospital with constant diarrhoea and bleeding, severe abdominal pain, weight loss, exhaustion, heart palpitations and vomiting. She believed her ill health was caused by an infection caught during an overseas work trip but after two weeks of invasive tests, she was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease, called Ulcerative Colitis, which occurs when the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum, or both, becomes inflamed producing tiny sores or ulcers on the lining of the colon.
Describing herself at that time she says, “I was in a mess. I was in pain, running to the toilet every few minutes. The steroids I was on caused insomnia and the loss of vital body minerals was affecting my heart and other organs. Every joint in my body was in pain and swollen from fingers to toes. My jaw kept locking when I tried to eat or speak and I found it difficult to walk. As a result, I was confused and irrational. My speech was slurred which was embarrassing and upsetting and I was truly terrified as my livelihood depends on my mental acuity”.
“It took two years of going down many treatment routes including steroids, immunosuppressive and biologic medications, dealing with adverse complications including steroid dependency disease, abnormal cervical cells, IBD related arthropathy to get my ulcerative colitis under control and I am now in remission. This is due to the expertise, care and patience of Dr Aoibhlinn O’Toole and Mary Forry, who guided, supported and brought me successfully through this very complicated personal journey. I am now living a healthy, normal and rewarding life once again.”
Attracta is thanking Dr Aoibhlinn O’Toole, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Mary Forry, Clinical Nurse Specialist, IBD.
“Now three years later, due to the expertise, care and patience of and a long journey of ups and downs with many treatment routes, my ulcerative colitis is in remission. I am living a healthy, normal and rewarding life once again”.
Attracta and her husband, Ultan, cycled from Paris to Nice in September 2019 to fundraise for the salary of Ireland’s first research fellow to provide one-to-one patient care and support for people with and to research the effects on the day-to-day lives of those who suffer with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis – both of which are incurable diseases.