I am officially diagnosed and don’t know what to do. I still barely understand what Ulcerative Colitis is. My understanding at the time was that Ulcerative Colitis is a disease that causes mild to severe inflammation in the large intestine (colon) that wreaks havoc upon your digestive system. Once the doctor explained it to me for the seventh time, he then dropped the bomb on me.
He said to me with a regrettable sigh:
“This disease is incurable…and we don’t know what causes it. Also, you’ll have to be on medication the rest of your life.”
In shock, frustrated, and angry I just stared at the ground. How could we not cure this? With all of our advancements in medical technology and health practices, how could we not have figured this one out yet? I was furious.
Until he said: “However, it is treatable.”
That was my saving grace. My glimmer of hope. The silver lining. Knowing that something can actually be done about it changed my mood instantly.
The Flare Up
Until one day, walking back from the cafeteria with some friends, I found myself feeling very uncomfortable. It felt like my insides were on fire and every step I took seemed to make it worse. There was a burning sensation in my gut that I had not really felt before. I didn’t know what to do. My friends didn’t know what to do. The wave of fire eventually subsided enough for me to get back to the dorm and we all laughed it off blaming the jumbo burrito I ate for dinner.
I would come to learn that this was my first, identifiable flare up after being diagnosed.
It sucked, man. Thank the LAWD above that my room was literally 5 steps from the communal bathroom because I practically was moved into the handicap stall for a few days. I wasn’t sleeping well, I was losing my legendary appetite, and bleedin’ from m’bum. It was the worst.
After a week or so, the flare-up passed and felt like I was back on top. My family and I had taken a few trips over the school year and everything was fine. Nothing out of the ordinary extra couple of poops per day. However, everyone was concerned because I felt these cramps in my gut were becoming more frequent – even in a 3 hour class, Yikes!
Making a decision
I was losing so much blood in the toilet and puking up so much of my food that I needed my first ever blood transfusion. Feeling lousy and uncomfortable, my amazing nurses assured me that by the time I was done, I would feel ‘like a million bucks!’ Sounded promising to me.
Soon, I needed multiple transfusions every couple of weeks just to maintain the blood levels in my body. Weak and distraught I even hated the idea of walking up stairs because I knew how fatigued I would feel at the top.
Seeing the look on my loved one’s faces as my skin color turned white, my breathing became heavier, and my smiles lessened struck me down harder than ever before.
This was my bottom.
This was my defeat.
This was seemingly the beginning of a hopeless future.
This is also where I made a choice.
A choice to do something about it: for them, for myself, and for my future.
A choice to conquer.
A choice to survive.
A choice to live.
*Bonus Quote* from LOTR because I’m a nerd like that:
“Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”(LOTR: Return of the King, 2003)