Brittany Burgunder


There isn’t an easy way for me to talk about this. I’ve been open about my diagnosis of CIPO – Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, but I still feel there’s so much that goes unspoken. My life changed 3 years ago when I suddenly and mysteriously fell ill. CIPO resulted from a virus attacking my GI tract. I thought it’d go away. It hasn’t. Since it doesn’t prevent me from doing things I love between flare ups, it’s easy to keep it hidden from others. 

When I do tell others, I get tongue tied. It’s extremely rare and hard to put into words. I’m fortunate that my degree of CIPO isn’t life threatening, but it has been life changing. I was in the hospital for 17 days this past March, and again in June and August with a bad obstruction. The only people who knew were my family and a few friends. Unfortunately, this happens a few times a year. The protocol to treat an acute flare up involves an NG tube for decompression, nothing to eat, and many medications. I handle it well, but honestly, I think I handle it too well …

Have you ever been so focused on something that everything else goes blank? Maybe your friend broke their arm and you had to call 911. The adrenaline helped you survive. This is how I feel with CIPO. I do what I have to do. But beneath my adrenaline is fear, pain, loneliness, and anxiety. The tricky part is as soon as I start to feel better and ready to address these emotions -another flare up will occur, and I get thrown back into the cycle. 

How do you heal PTSD if it’s possibly going to reoccur in the future? I don’t know, but it feels good to release my thoughts. I don’t want to keep this part of myself so closed off anymore as it makes me feel like I’m living a double life. Mostly I’m ok and swinging a tennis racket, but sometimes I’m too weak to leave my hospital bed. I always hope one day CIPO will be a thing of the past, but until that day, I don’t want to brush it aside when I’m unwell. If anything, this has made me stronger. Thank you for joining me on this journey. ~Britt? 

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