I am amazed at the support our Facebook group of artists and writers has given to those of us who suffer with Crohn's. What is even more incredible is the talent apparent in the posts and art of those involved. I blog each Wednesday about Crohn's and week before last, I wanted to do something different. As we all know, Crohn's and UC are challenges, but that doesn't change who we are. This week, I'd like you to meet Julia Nigh, a fantastic artist and it seems, a great writer as well. Welcome Julia.
Being an army wife is a bit of a rollercoaster. There are many amazing parts to it; going places you would otherwise never go, meeting some of the most amazing people in the world and that wonderful feeling you get when the one you loves comes home. Of course there is also the downside; being away from home and support, living in other countries where you know no one, moving regularly, needing to make new friends and being forced to spend long periods of time away from the person you love is at times rather horrid. Add Crohns into the mix and life becomes even more interesting! Art has been one of the constants in my life since becoming an army wife. It's given me something to focus on, something to think of other than the pain, the loneliness and worry (at times its not always like that). Just recently it has also given me the facebook group which is an amazing support for me, being able to talk to like-minded art buffs and people who feel the same pain and anguish as myself is amazingly reassuring. Even my husband cannot understand the true burden suffering from a disease like Crohn's can bring. Only those who suffer from it can truly understand and through the group, I get the true understanding from other suffers and of course the chance to chat about and share ideas, photos and my creations.
I was diagnosed with Oral Crohns at the age of 11. I was one of only a few people in the country (UK) at the time to have only Oral Crohns, meaning my consultations with doctors was often like being part of a play in a theatre with rows of student doctors scribbling down notes on everything I said. It also meant that the doctors didn’t really know what to do with me. Their first step was to put me on the dreaded Prednisone steroids, my nemesis!!! I became steroid dependant and spent years trying to get off them and keep my Crohns stable.
Many years were spent in and out of hospital, many times my poor parents were told I wouldn’t make it through the night! Many steroid sparring drugs and even the elemental diet (where you come off food for 2 months and drink a very disgusting drink) later, and we finally found a drug that would work for me; Azathioprine was my hero. Unfortunately it is a hero that has a bit of a dark side! The Easter before my GCSEs, my dramatic weight loss since coming off steroids meant that I was effectively massively overdosing on Immunosuppressants. My immune system crashed and I contracted Glandular fever. I spent 2 weeks unconscious in isolation, although this seemed my lowest point, good came out of it. This very dark time seemed to mark a change in my Crohns as I haven’t had a flare of my Oral Crohns since then.
Although that wasn’t the end of the story for me or for our hero good old Azathioprine. Whilst at university I had a few problems and the doctor (very proudly as he didn’t believe I could have only Oral Crohns) found Crohns in my colon and my ileum. Its my ileum that has continued to this day to give me trouble. I continue to fight nasty Crohns, sometimes with the help of Azathioprine but at the moment without anything, controlling my disease through my diet and exercise. And that’s my Crohns story.
As for my art well, I always enjoyed drawing as a child but unlike my two older sisters, my Dad and my Grandfather (who are all amazing artists) we believed I took after my mother who struggled to draw a stick man! And so we all continued to believe that until my husband signed me up for painting lessons whilst we were posted to Italy.
Naples, in Italy was our first posting and it saw me go from having a busy job and hobby to being a young mother and married. I got rather disillusioned, so my lovely husband decided to sign me up with a local Italian Artist, and so started my love affair with art. I think my husband now rues the day he enrolled me in the art classes as my house is full of paintings and smells of oil and turps, but I am most certainly not. It has seen me through some of my darkest times, when I have been ill, when he has been in Afghanistan and so much more. I love to paint I don’t care if not every painting turns out well I just love to paint.
I love Julia's art. While some are stormy most have a lovely gentleness which speaks highly of her indomitable spirit. Please enjoy a few more precious scenes of talent and tranquility.