Thursday, September 8, 2011

Post 1: Living with Ulcerative Colitis

With my husband, Phillip at one of our favorite places -Jekyll Island
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 19 years old. I was sick as a child, but as my teenage years came to a close, my sickness became unbearable. If you are unfamiliar with what ulcerative colitis or chrohns disease is, here is a LINK that explains what happens when you have UC. I was pretty good at hiding it somehow. Any slumber parties or overnight trips, somehow I was "going out of town" or already "busy." Dinner and a movie? Forget that....It was movie first (and I missed a lot of it because of bathroom trips) then it was dinner with a speedy trip home before I got sick. I was always embarrassed and never told friends. Ulcerative colitis makes it quite difficult to function and do your day to day activities. It can at times cause depression because you miss out on things you wish you could do. I missed out on a lot of things as a child and teenager because I had to plan my day around where the bathroom was. If I there wasn't one near by (and I mean close enough to run to) I just couldn't participate. It's a very lonely disease and it's easy to feel sorry for yourself. I know I did sometimes, but you just kind of learn how to cope with it. I became a bit of a loner my first couple of years in college, and my parents and my best friends were basically the only ones who knew I had this disease. Trying for several years to figure out what was wrong with me as a child, my parents and I went from doctor to doctor being told I must have food allergies, irritable bowel, or that I was a nervous child that had stomach ulcers. None of this was the case. I finally was referred to a Gastrointestinal specialist when I was 19 after my hemoglobin was at a level 6. I wasn't just sick to my stomach anymore. I began losing significant amounts of blood. I was too exhausted to walk to class, by lips and nails were purple (which I covered up with lipstick and nail polish). I ended up in the hospital having an emergency colonoscopy and endoscopy to see why I was losing so much blood. I was diagnosed with UC and was immediately put on Asacol (mesalimine) and an iron supplement.  This medicine changed my whole life. I was so very happy to have finally figured out why I was so sick. I thought, GREAT! I can pop a few pills and all my problems would go away! For the most part, my medicine has worked great for me. I have been on it for almost 14 years with very few flare-ups. I have been very grateful that I have been able to live a normal and healthy life for many years now. I had routine colonoscopies every couple of years to check everything. All was well, just a little "mild colitis." I finished college, traveled over seas countless times, became a runner, art teacher, photographer.....all of the things I wanted to do I could do now!! I ended up meeting the love of my life, getting married to my wonderful husband, Phillip. We even decided to start a family. Phillip has never really seen me get sick and when we were dating he never even knew I had UC. (Except when I tried a new medicine - it did not work for me and went back to my old ways. I was terribly ill. He understood the extremes of the condition then. But once I went back to my old meds I got better.) I had a healthy pregnancy (I was sick, but nothing out of the normal "pregnancy stuff"). We had a beautiful healthy baby girl. Life was amazing! Life is still great, but now we have this bump in the road that we weren't expecting.....Fighting colon cancer.

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