My journey with Ulcerative Colitis started in June/July 2016. My first symptoms were bloating and a general feeling that something wasn’t right. That was quickly followed by blood in my stool. I tried to ignore it and thought it would go away.
A month of trying to hid it, I went to a GP. I told her about my symptoms and her first response (without doing any tests I might add) was ‘’I think you have bowel cancer’’. A few weeks later, I saw a gastroenterologist and underwent a colonoscopy. Thankfully I didn’t have bowel cancer, but the tests came back inconclusive, so without much of a plan I just carried on as normal and pretty much tried to forget about it all (stupid mistake).
I went back to uni to start my second year. I had moved into a new flat, was partying and meeting new people just like any average 20 year old. That two months into what is supposed to be the best time of your life, and I was bed bound. Without having any clue I was in a flare up. I didn’t know what was going on and was waiting to see another specialist. I went from weighing 8 stone to 6 stone in two weeks, and was just living in the bathroom.
I finally saw another specialist in December and underwent lots of tests that finally led to my diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis on 6th January 2017. At the time this didn’t really mean anything to me. I’d never heard of UC. I didn’t know what to do. So my coping mechanism was to ignore it; I didn’t realise how serious the diagnosis was and wanted to carry on as normal. I was prescribed prednisolone steroids in the attempt to rapidly get the UC under control. However, after being on steroids for a few weeks and nothing improving, my GI had to admit me to hospital.
The first words out of my doctors mouth when I walked into hospital was, ‘’your symptoms are so severe, I might have to get a surgeon involved. You might need surgery in 3 days” . He was talking to surgeon and discussing the possibility for me to have emergency surgery. They pumped me with a cocktail of very strong medication to try to get my colon to chill out! I left hospital colon intact, rattling from all the meds I’d been given and a plan of IV drug therapy for the rest of my life; all with the hope that I’ll end up in remission.
UC is a waiting game. You hope the medication is strong enough to keep you under control. Three months out of hospital and things started to get messy again. I was bringing the steroids down slowly and was back to bleeding, rushing to the loo in the hope I didn’t ruin my favourite jeans and waking up in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat. To top it all off I violently throwing up due to one of the drugs they’d given me. So it was putting the steroid up and given an early hit of my IV therapy in the hope of getting it back under control… Again. It felt like a million steps back.
June 2017 and still not in remission. It has almost been a year that I first went to that GP.
But I have been lucky enough to find a community of the strongest people in the world. The illness takes strength: To fight the flares, to fight the day-to-day changes of medication and doctors appointments. To fight your whole life.