Interview with Michael Currier

Interview with Michael Currier

By: Justin Vandergrift

A few weeks ago I was asked to speak at IBD 2020 in New Orleans. IBD 2020 was a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America event which focused on what treatment would look like in the year 2020. I met some of the most remarkable people at the conference. Several patients were in attendance and I asked them to share their story with Empowered By Kids.

Michael Currier’s was kind enough to share his story.  As you can see from reading it, he needs no introduction.  His resolve and strength is a beacon of light for all kids who are diagnosed with IBD.  The power in Michael’s story is that you can do anything regardless of the label of a chronic disease.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the start of my Freshman year in high school. From that point on, it was a constant struggle trying to stay healthy. I was on and off steroids, immunosuppressants, biologics, and enrolled in a number of trials for new medications. In that time I have had erythema nodosum, pyoderma gangrenosum, fistulas, abscesses, multiple fistulotomies, a resection, contracted shingles, pneumonia, and tubercolosis which required a 2 month stay in the hospital, open lung biopsies with a chest drainage tube, a TPN feeding line for two months and at one point was down to 114 pounds.

 

Now let me tell you what I also did in that time. I was the president of my high school student council, president of the Theater Guild, went to Berklee College of Music, then went to Suffolk University and got my Bachelors degree in business management and marketing. While there I started a Rock/Pop music group named Averi that went on to win a Boston Music Award for Best Pop/Rock Band in 2005. I started a publishing company to manage our catalogue of music and we went on the road for 7 years on tour with the likes of Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls Bare Naked Ladies, Gavin Degraw and Guster. When this wound down I put myself into graduate school as a physician assistant, served as a Camp Councilor at CCFA’s Camp Oasis, lectured at numerous Patient and Family symposiums for CCFA, got Married to my beautiful/brainy wife Nikki, got a giant dog named Quincy, had two amazing sons (one of whom was born in a blizzard in an ambulance last year,) bought and renovated a new house, became a Physician Assistant and the Associate Director of Program Development for The Brigham and Woman’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center and helped to build and launch the area’s first comprehensive IBD center at The Brigham.

 

I tell you this not to pat myself on the back. I am NO different than anyone reading this. I am telling you this to let you know that IBD can only affect your life if YOU let it. Crohn’s disease is not WHO I am. It is what I have and only a part of what makes me ME. I do not reject my IBD. It is still a part of me and in some ways it adds to my story because not only am I able to do all these things, but I am able to do it even in the presence of IBD… and so can you.

 

All of us with IBD are constantly writing a “choose your own ending” book. At any point we can choose to make our life story one of tragedy and defeat or of hope, courage, inspiration and triumph. I have chosen the latter and my hope is that all those reading this will choose to do the same thing if they haven’t already. We may not have been in control of the cards that we were dealt but we are in full control of how we decide to play them.

 

The last paragraph of his remarks are powerful.  We all have the option to choose our own ending.  I have met some of the most amazing people who suffer with chronic diseases.  They harness the strength, not discouragement from their disease.  It is a part of their life, but it does not define them.  Michael took the ‘Road Less Traveled’ and is impacting lives.  He is not special because of IBD, he is special because he is doing something.  Standing before you are two paths, which one will you take?

Thank you so much for sharing your story Michael.  Your words and life show that anything is possible with resolve and courage. You are an inspiration to all of us.

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