Well, hello. I am 18 years old and just started my first year of college. A little more than two months ago (the beginning of September), I became really sick . . . and I didn’t get better. I had a colonoscopy in October and not long after, I was diagnosed with UC. So, I guess you could say I’m brand new to this disease.
Some more about me:
I was born and raised in Utah. I have three siblings and two wonderful parents.
I am a very introverted person, though I’m not socially awkward. Ha ha. I can be sarcastic at times, and I am a HUGE fan of witty, corny puns. I love to laugh, and I love being around people who will laugh alongside me.
I love grape-flavored foods: kool-aid, mike & ikes, laffy taffy, jell-o, jolly ranchers, etc.
I have to use the bathroom A LOT, and my stools are always loose and bloody. And the smell . . . well, don’t get me started. That alone is enough to put the UC in YUCK! My symptoms have been pretty bad lately. I always feel like I have to throw up and use the bathroom (at the same time). Just the thought of food makes me feel sick, because I know what effects it will have on me in the not-too-distant future. I get stomach cramps, and it seems like there’s nothing that will lessen the pain. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and have to run to the bathroom so I don’t–for lack of a better word–explode (ha, sorry for the image).
This Too Shall Pass
This past Labor Day weekend (2013), I went camping with a friend. The day after I got home, I noticed my stools were bloody, but I wasn’t experiencing any pain whatsoever, and I didn’t feel a frequent urge to “go.” I thought maybe I had gotten a parasite or something from the water I drank while I was camping. I waited for a few days, and when I realized it wasn’t going away, I had to bring up the awkward conversation with my mom.
I was scheduled to see a doctor, and he thought I probably just had a parasite as well. He took a stool test and put me on an antibiotic (flagyl). I had to take flagyl three times each day for ten days, and by day five I wanted to die. That stuff is awful! I didn’t actually feel sick before I started taking flagyl, but while I was taking it, my stomach hurt all the time, and my mouth tasted like battery acid (not that I’ve ever tried battery acid). My doctor gave me nausea tablets to help with it and highly recommended that I stay on flagyl for the full ten days to kill whatever parasite I had.
When the results came back from the stool test, my doctor said that every test for a parasite came back negative, but I had an excessive white blood count, which indicated that I had an infection of some sort. My doctor advised me to wait a week to see if my symptoms got any better. He thought that maybe I’d had a parasite, that the antibiotics killed it off, and that my body was just in the process of healing itself. I was able to stop taking flagyl (hallelujah!), and I immediately felt better, though I still had loose, bloody stools.
A week passed, but my symptoms didn’t. I was scheduled to have a colonoscopy done early in the morning on October 8th. After the colonoscopy, I was told that I most likely had ulcerative colitis, and the earliest I could see a GI specialist was in November. At first I didn’t want to accept it. I had read a little about the disease, and a little was more than enough for me. The more I read, the more depressed I became. For one, this disease is a little embarrassing, and it seemed like the list of foods I couldn’t eat just went on forever! After I read through the list, I thought, “What CAN I eat?!”
I still held onto the small thread of hope that what I had wasn’t actually uclerative colitis. I mean, I wasn’t experiencing any pain, and my bathroom visits were normal. Then the day came when the college I attend offered free flu vaccinations. My parents encourage me to get vaccinated, so I did. I don’t know if the shot had anything to do with this, but about five days after I was vaccinated, I started experiencing major abdominal pains, and I couldn’t eat anything. Even “safe” foods made me feel ridiculously ill. I couldn’t eat or drink anything, so I went back in to see my doctor, and he put me on prednisone for about a week (until I could see the GI specialist).
I started taking three prednisone pills for three days, then two for three days, and then one for three days. At first, prednisone was fantastic. I stomach stopped hurting, I didn’t have to go to the bathroom all the time, I could eat, and I felt happy. Unfortunately, as the dosage lessened (after about four days on prednisone), I started to get sick again.
I went in to see the specialist that next Wednesday (November 6th). I was hungry and malnourished, and when I walked into his office, one of his nurse gave me a huge smile and said, “Hi! How are you today?” Oh, you know, I’m just bleeding out of my butthole, I feel like I’m pregnant with the devil’s child, I practically live in the bathroom, I feel like I’m becoming anorexic (not by choice) . . . ugh. Maybe I’m just being a brat, but that seemed like a really stupid question at the time. I mean, honestly. If I was all peaches and sunshine, I probably wouldn’t be in your office right now!
Anyway, the specialist wasn’t happy to hear that I was taking prednisone, and he gave me some samples of Asacol and Lialda to take home. He acted like my condition wasn’t really that big of a deal and told me to eat whatever I wanted (which is basically the opposite of everything else I’ve read about Ulcerative Colitis), and he told me I should start to feel better in about six months.
I started taking Asacol, but my symptoms only worsened, so after a couple of days, I switched to Lialda. My symptoms started to get better, and I felt hopeful. Unfortunately, though, that didn’t last long. I’ve been on Lialda for almost a week, and I know it’s not actually supposed to start working for about three weeks, but I feel like it’s making my symptoms worse. I dread going to my college classes, because I can’t sit through them for too long before I have to get up and find a bathroom. I get really bad stomach cramps, and I feel like I need to throw up. I still get bloody diarrhea, and I’m having a hard time staying positive.
Sorry this is so long. I guess I just needed to vent.
written by Jerry A.
Submitted in the colitis venting area