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Carolyn Binnig: Ulcerative Colitis

The Challenge: GI Tract Infection

A local high-school student and soccer player, Carolyn Binnig increasingly began to face more alarming flu-like symptoms at the beginning of the school year.

Her doctor dismissed her illness as the flu and told her to just wait it out.

For nearly a week, that's what Carolyn did. But, she kept getting worse. She finally went back to the doctor.

Blood and stool tests determined that she had giardia and an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea. Although she began taking medication for the giardia, Carolyn wasn’t getting better.

Finally, she was referred to the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Center. After several tests, Carolyn learned that she had ulcerative colitis and began treatment so that she was able to return to high school.

In November, she began to feel ill again. After another visit to her IBD physician, Carolyn was still not responding as everyone had hoped.

The Path to UPMC

Soon after Thanksgiving, Carolyn woke up one morning with difficulty breathing.

She was rushed to the emergency room at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where tests finally determined that she had myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart or surrounding tissues.

She spent the next five days in the hospital. It was during this time that Carolyn was found to have an infection in her gastrointestinal tract called Clostridium difficile, or C-diff for short.

The Solution: Anti-TNF Medicine

Carolyn's IBD subspecialist gastroenterologist completed several additional tests and determined that Carolyn’s ulcerative colitis was still very active.

He prescribed an intravenous (IV) anti-TNF medication, which aided in remission of the colitis.

The Results: Winning Soccer Championships

Having ulcerative colitis took its toll on this soccer-loving teen.  Carolyn missed nearly the entire fall and winter soccer seasons, and was even removed from her cup team roster because many people didn’t believe she had enough strength to make it back.

But, with the support of her medical team and her new desire to get back to leading the kind of life she wanted, she got well and was able to compete on the soccer field again.

She helped her team to win not only state and regional championships, but also the northeastern USA regional championship. Carolyn’s team ultimately competed in the national championship and ended the season ranked third in the country!

Her entire family and many of her friends were very supportive of her. Because she was unable to attend classes at school, her mother worked from home, for nearly three months, so she could care for Carolyn.

“I was at Children’s Hospital. I definitely want to thank my doctor for always being there for me. Even when I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, my mom would contact him, and he’d get me back on track … right away. He helped me so much and supported me the whole time. I owe so much to him for everything he did.”

Carolyn’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.