Dealing with Colitis as a College Student

Current Colitis Symptoms:

Frequently running to the bathroom, the urge to go hits me very suddenly, diarrhea

Meet Jessica:

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in August 2011. I am currently a freshman in college and hoping to reach remission soon!

Some more about me:

I enjoy photography, watching football (Go Panthers!), and hanging out with my friends, (always near a bathroom of course).

Colitis in College:

I was diagnosed with UC about a year and a half ago, and have yet to reach remission. Colitis has changed my life because no matter what I do I always have to make sure there is a bathroom nearby. I also wake up at least twice during the night to go. It feels like everything I eat goes straight through me so I’m about fifteen pounds underweight. My friends tell me that I’m lucky to be able to eat whatever I want and stay skinny, but I think I look unhealthy. I have had people approach me and ask if I was anorexic, and that definitely hurt a lot.

I almost always have to go after I eat, so if I am doing something (like riding in a car for a long period of time), I just don’t eat. I know it’s not the best solution, but I don’t want to have an accident (which does sometimes happen). My UC prevents me from going out with my friends because I’m worried that I’ll have an accident and embarrass myself. If they’re going somewhere that doesn’t have a bathroom (like a park) I’ll make up an excuse not to go. I’m anxious to find a medicine that works for me because I want to live a normal life where I can be outside and not worry about what building I will run into if I have to go. A big issue for me though is that I’m terrified of doctors.

colitis college

I hate needles and after having one colonoscopy I don’t want to have another one soon. I guess I’m afraid that if my UC doesn’t get better soon then my doctor will tell me that I need another one. So I basically try to avoid the doctor, even if things are bad (which, again, probably isn’t the best idea). I’m just beginning college and I want to be able to focus more on my school work, and less on finding the bathroom.

Asacol:

I am currently on Asacol but it is not working. I am going back to the doctor soon to ask to try a new medication.

written by Jessica

submitted in the colitis venting area




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7 Responses to Dealing with Colitis as a College Student

  1. Adam
    Adam December 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Hey Jessica,

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I can totally relate to the “terrified of doctors”, that was me as well several years ago. But here’s something to think about…

    For most people with UC, there’s going to be ups and downs along the road, and there’s a really good chance that you’re gonna be on the road to recovery soon and back at a pretty darn normal lifestyle.

    That said, doctors are still going to be a part of life, as they are for anybody with UC. So, why not find a good GI doctor that you not only like, but trust, and one who likes you as well. It might sound hard or difficult to pull off, but come on, you can do it!

    Here’s a list of GI doctor reviews that users of the site have submitted over the past few years, and its growing constantly: https://www.ihaveuc.com/find-a-doctor-near-you/

    If you don’t see anybody on that list near you, then you’re gonna need to do some more work. But that’s ok.

    What I would do, is write down or list out what types of things you want from “your GI doc”. And then, hit up the phone book and simply start calling around. Of course I don’t know what type of health insurance you’re working with, but if you call the staff at the different doc offices, you should be able to ask them some questions like:

    – does “x” doctor work with alot of IBD patients
    – how long has he/she been practicing
    – am I able to email/call this doctor when I have questions
    – is this doctor into the holistic/non western med approaches
    – does this doc perform colonoscopies as well
    – how difficult is it to schedule an appointment if I need to see him/her urgently

    and whatever other questions you might have, the offices should be able to answer.

    Also, a great question to ask the staff or offices that have multiple GI docs is;

    “If you we needing to choose a GI doctor, which one would you choose?”

    Anywyas, I hope this gives you some ideas, because it really is important to feel comfortable with your doctor, and once you have that squared away, I think it will relieve some of the stress that goes along with having UC.

    Best of luck to you Jessica,

    -Adam

  2. Natalie December 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Hey Adam!

    I just checked the list of GI doctors and didn’t see my doctor listed. I submitted the info 12/9. Why wasn’t my doctor added? You had sent me a confirmation that you received my info and I have been checking every day since and so far no listing. What’s up Adam????

    • Adam
      Adam December 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Hey Natalie,

      I’ve been a tad bit busy as we are moving right now, but it will get added, there’s several others I need to post along with yours. My apologies for the delay, I’m usually much faster.

  3. Natalie December 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    No problem at all Adam. I just wondered what happened. Thanks for responding and good luck in your new home. Have a great weekend!

  4. Andy December 14, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    Hi Jessica,

    Have you tried the Steroid(Pred) Foam?

    I found it to be really effective in helping prevent urgency and ‘accidents’. I still had inflammation further up in the colon, but getting rid of the inflammation around the lower part really made life more liveable as I could hold on those extra few minutes to get to the bathroom. It took about 2 weeks to show significant progress for me and it’s fairly cheap.

    I was on oral pred for months to no effect, and with huge side effects. Avoid that if you can. Enema’s are horrible, not but as bad as oral steroid side effects. Very little of the pred in the enema makes it into your blood stream.

    After things calm down a bit, I also found: Probiotics, Zinc, L-Glutamine, L-Arginine and Vitamin D to be effective.

    Good luck,

    Andy

  5. Jessica from Ohio
    jessica December 15, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    Hi Jessica,

    I was diagnosed this year in April with UC. I am also a college student. After being diagnosed with it, I had the same issues, then I met good ole prednisone. It did help things that I ate stay in longer but still had the same feeling of how will I do this while going to school, and clinicals (in school for respiratory therapy). I simply explained what was going on with me to my instructors, which I know isn’t always a comfortable thing to have to explain to someone. They were very understanding of what I was dealing with. I can honestly say though, it was a very tough quarter for me. Somehow I managed to keep my eye on the prize and do alot of my own research to find ways to help deal with side effects to the meds, the anxiety, and that sudden urge that I gotta get to the bathroom NOW! Keep track of what you eat, see if it is food triggered, probiotics help, took garlic tablets to help boost the immune system, kava kava for anxiety, and valerian to help me sleep. I make it through two quarters and a semester dealing with all that, and it has paided off, I have one more semester to go before I graduate. Just stay positive, research, talk to other people about it. This site is great for talking to others dealing with the exact same thing. Just hang in there. Hope something that I wrote to you helps you
    Best wishes,
    Jessica

  6. Sasha December 25, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    Hi Jessica,

    Reading your story was like listening to myself. Let me tell you this: you are not alone and you don’t have to keep living like you are.

    I was also diagnosed with UC halfway through my 3rd year in college. I have to admit that I didn’t change my lifestyle at all after my diagnosis, as I continued to work hard, play hard, and eat and drink everything under the sun. Basically, I just continued to live my regular life and “accepted” my UC symptoms as a new “normal”. Talk about denial!

    Halfway through my 4th year, I ended up in the hospital for a week. It was because I just let my UC symptoms get out of control and I refused to ask for help. Also, I was scared of side effects from going on medications that were stronger than Asacol. Call it my type A personality, pride, embarrassment, refusal to acknowledge that I was sick… whatever it was, I was my own worst enemy.

    Although going to the hospital was not the most fun experience of my life, it honestly saved me at the time. Like you, I was having uncontrollable urgency, I wasn’t able to eat, I became anemic, and my weight dropped dramatically. I was wasting away. When this happens, all of your organs are affected and by not taking action you are doing yourself greater harm.

    If you’re concerned about your social life, don’t be. Your real friends won’t care that you have UC or that you have run to the washroom all the time. Heck, they shouldn’t even care if they hear you through the door! I was blessed with some amazing roommates who rallied around me like a fire brigade during my worst moments and provided support whenever I needed it. If you’re not comfortable with telling people about your UC, you don’t even have to explain. Say you have stomach problems or inflammation.

    My advice to you right now is to consult a doctor because they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. I know it might not seem like the best time since it’s the holidays, but your health needs to be #1. Start the new semester fresh and healthy :)

    Stay positive and enjoy college. It’s an amazing time!

    P.S. Drink some Ensure in addition to what you’re eating right now to gain weight. It’s a high-calorie meal replacement for elderly people (but still consult your doctor).

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