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Greg Reed has competed in triathlons for more than 20 years. As an athlete, he trained, ate well, and exercised daily. So, despite having a family history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Greg thought little of it when he began experiencing mild episodes of abdominal pain.
Until two years ago, while on a flight home from Japan, Greg’s stomach pains were so severe that he was taken to the emergency room and spent the next few days recovering in the hospital.
“Before the pains would come and go but I never thought much of it,” says Greg. “This was the worst episode or flare-up I had ever had.”
As an engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Greg was familiar with UPMC and was referred to the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Center by one of his graduate students. After a few visits, Greg was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a severe, chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding in the digestive tract.
To help patients like Greg, UPMC has partnered with UPMC Health Plan to create UPMC Total Care-IBD. This program offers accessible, integrated care to help patients manage the challenges of IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients are given enhanced access to an entire team of experts, including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, psychologists, and other specialists through office visits, telephone calls, and telemedicine.
After a year of working with the UPMC Total Care - IBD team to manage his symptoms, Greg’s condition worsened and he was once again hospitalized. After a series of tests, doctors informed him that he would need surgery to eliminate the blockages and ulcers that had formed in his digestive tract.
But with triathlons, family activities, and work commitments planned for the summer, Greg was not about to give up. He was determined to keep competing and fulfill his summer plans, so he worked with his doctors to develop a plan and stabilize his condition.
“They were very patient and understanding,” says Greg. “They put me on a very strict treatment and diet plan throughout the summer that helped me get ready for surgery and really put my mind at ease.”
After a summer of racing and other activities, Greg underwent surgery for his Crohn’s disease on August 20, 2015.
Greg continues to work with the UPMC Total Care – IBD Team to help manage and control his Crohn’s disease. He believes it is this constant accessibility and communication that has made a huge difference to his recovery for both him and his family.
“I never had to question what to expect or what I had to do. The doctors, the communication, and the information all just put me and my family at ease,” says Greg.
With a summer full of triathlons planned, Greg is very excited to get back to his active lifestyle.
“My life was literally built around what I do – a balance of my training with work and family life,” says Greg. “Now I feel better than I have in years, and am currently preparing for an Ironman race this fall.”
Greg’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases