- May 6, 2020
Lauren Reimer is a blogger, content creator, and chronic illness community leader based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. At the age of 13, she was diagnosed with Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction (CIPO), which means that her digestive tract acts as though it is obstructed — even when it is not. Lacking peristalsis, the worm-like movement that moves food, fluid, and air through her digestive tract, her body is unable to absorb adequate amounts of nutrients from eating alone. As such, she relies on IV nutrition (total parenteral nutrition, or TPN), administered from a 2.5-liter bag of fluid containing fats, protein, sugars, vitamins, and minerals that infuses over 12 hours while she sleeps. She’s been living on this therapy since her diagnosis, and while unusual, it has sustained her and allowed her to live a full life. She also has two feedings tubes that she uses to decompress her stomach and intestine during her waking hours. What sets Lauren apart in her work is her boldness and color: this woman loves all things vintage, fashion, music, and art, and when not in COVID quarantine she loves to spend time with her friends (and there are many!). A frequent guest on her social media feed is her sweet dog Elway, a rescue who keeps her spirits high and her body active (when he’s not napping). Friends of UP: meet Lauren of Pretty Couch Potato!
Key links mentioned in this episode:
Tune in as Lauren shares:
- how she was first diagnosed
- what CIPO is, and how it affects her body
- why she’s permanently on TPN — and how her understanding of nutrition has changed over time and with experience
- how her experiments with holistic medicine failed her
- that while she doesn’t live with chronic pain, she is in chronic discomfort
- that she now has both a G-tube and a J-tube to assist in her digestion, as well as a central line for absorbing her TPN
- just how rare CIPO is
- how she has become her own advocate
- how chronic illness has directly impacted her education and career prospects
- that she is now able to work part-time remotely, matching TPN patients with the best care for them
- why she loves her work, which overlaps with advocacy
- that there is a lot of misinformation out there about TPN
- that TPN is not often or readily prescribed (about 40k/year in the US are prescribed it) — and many individuals prescribed the treatment are given it short-term in the NICU or in hospice — very few people live long-term on TPN, like Lauren does
- that she may explore multiple-organ transplant options in the future
- what eating is like for her, given that she gets no nutrition from food
- the misunderstanding that people living with disabilities aren’t willing to fully participate in life — and how she actively works to challenge that misconception
- why her big-city vs. small-town healthcare experiences have been so vastly different
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