After battling Ulcerative Colitis for 6 years, I won. I want others to win, too.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 15, in 2004. My first thought was: “sweet, I can finally write down something cool on medical forms.” I clearly had no idea what was in store for me. However, this was the delusionally optimistic outlook that would get me through the extremely difficult years to come.
Jump ahead seven years, three colonoscopies, about 10 minor to major procedures, and a pharmacy of medications, and I’m in Cleveland Clinic preparing for curative surgery. Those who know my story know how it ends, but the important thing is that it worked. If it hadn’t been for the support of my family and good friends, I wouldn’t be here today.
Ulcerative Colitis is a very private and humbling disease. Nobody wants to talk about blood in your stool or fistulas or abscesses. Nobody wants to hear about how much harder it is to do anything when your body is already using all its energy to fight inflammation. Everybody has an opinion on what you should do: “have you tried natural remedies?” “Try eating just white rice and bananas.” “Maybe you’re allergic to gluten.” “Look online for advice.” “Don’t stress out so much.” It’s pointless to talk to those who try to offer advice, because they don’t realize that this is consuming your life and you’ve already heard it all.
Other people feel sorry for you, and the worst ones not only feel sorry for you--they’re glad they’ve lived a healthy life, so this could never happen to them. They pity you and your poor life decisions that brought you to such misery, but really, look at you. You should have been a healthy person like them, then this wouldn’t have happened.
Attention World: the causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease are unknown. For some it may be genetic, but in other cases it appears completely randomly. One day I was a completely healthy, active 15-year-old; the next, I was in a hospital bed looking up at my parents’ faces in confusion and despair. Thanks to surgery I’m finally healthy and active again, with big plans for a future that I once thought might never exist. I want to be an example for people whose boats I have shared, to show them that it can get better.
As a final note, my mom and dad were always there for me when I was sick. They stayed with me through every hospital visit, they held my hand and cried with me when things got bad, and took off work in the worst times to help me with humor and love, always paying my medical bills without so much as a whisper of complaint. They are wonderful, beautiful people who put aside their differences to keep their daughter alive. All they could ever ask in return is for me to live fully and happily, and that’s what I want to do.
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