I have decided to be more open about my health and dealing with a form of inflammatory bowel disease on my blog – so here is the first post!
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 18 after months of symptoms, the main ones being severe upset stomachs, fatigue, nausea and passing blood. One of the things that stands out in my mind the most about those few months was the sheer length of time it took to get a diagnosis and the illness affected everything. My school work, my social life, my relationship, the list goes on. Whilst my friends were going out to clubs on school nights I was calculating where I could fit in naps and toilet breaks so I could make it through at least half the day without falling asleep or shitting myself.
If you have never heard of Ulcerative Colitis, it’s a form of IBD and is similar to Crohns Disease. Symptoms vary from person to person, which can make it hard to diagnose, but if you want more details on the medical side, you can follow this link: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/
It’s an autoimmune disease and there is currently no cure for IBD. The disease itself goes into remission with treatment and the regularity of flare ups, again varies person to person. On average, mine flares up once a year but settles quickly with medication. Treatments vary, from oral steroids, immunosuppressants and in some cases ileostomy bags, so you can imagine it was quite a lot to take in at 18.
I would say it probably took me 10 years to accept it’s part of my life and won’t be going anywhere any time soon and sometimes it definitely still gets me down when it flares up during important events (like when I flew to America for a month) or occasions i’ve been looking forward to, so if you are reading this newly diagnosed and angry at life, it’s ok, i’ve been there.
To finish, I will leave you some tips on dealing with Ulcerative Colitis:
- Take spare pants and wet wipes everywhere during flare ups. You can thank me later.
- Have a ‘no detail to gross to discuss’ friend who will happily talk about your varying bowel movements with enthusiasm.
- Be patient and kind to yourself.