Introduction to Andrew:
I was diagnosed when I was 15, symptoms first appeared at 13. I engage in a number of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and running — I am 23 and living in Seattle, WA USA
Hello all! My name is Andrew. I was first had symptoms of ulcerative colitis when I was 13 years old. I started having severe abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea in conjunction with what I would later learn was a severe blood clot in my left leg (The clot went from behind my left knee all the way to just below my belly button). It turns out, the clot had blocked many of the small veins leading out of my colon causing a substantial amount of tissue to become scarred, ulcerated, and extremely inflamed. While I was hospitalized, I couldn’t eat, had very bloody stools, and I lost nearly 25 pounds.
The clot finally disappeared after a week, but my colon problems were just beginning. The severe pain, the urgency, and the difficulty eating anything continued for a year and a half. It took me almost the rest of high school to return to my weight prior to getting sick. The doctor attempted numerous procedures: I had my first colonoscopy when I was still hospitalized and 3 more between then and college, I had numerous CT scans and a colonography (the worst experience of my life). It was safe to say that I had a very difficult time coping and to this day brings back some very painful memories. Being a teenager and constantly worrying about having to go to the bathroom was extremely humiliating.
After nearly two years of running in circles a doctor finally diagnosed me with UC. The doc put me on balsalazide disodium (Colazol). It took a while to start working, but within a couple of months, the urgency and frequency began to drop. I still had to know where the nearest bathroom was and time when and where I would be travelling, but for the first time in years it didn’t hurt so much to have to go. I started to get to a healthy weight and could participate in my preferred physical activities like running, biking, hiking, and swimming without getting pale or feeling otherwise incapacitated due to lack of energy.
College years saw continued improvement – I stayed on my meds, engaged in outdoor activities as often as I could stand. There were a few mild flareups but for the most part, my UC stayed under control – and I began to get complacent. I stopped taking my medicine and didn’t eat very well. Even so I managed to stay healthy for a couple of years without any serious incidents. After my last scope, my doc even said my UC was in remission. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.
My UC came back with a vengeance about a month ago for seemingly no reason at all and it was as bad as I’d felt since this ordeal first started. Near constant nausea, couldn’t eat anything without feeling sick, extreme abdominal pain, and even worse urgency, frequency, and diarrhea. I also lost 5-10 pounds in two weeks. In a panic, I went to the doc for help. He gave me the same meds I was on before and the flare stopped after about a week. I then realized I would have to make some permanent changes to keep my UC under control. I’ve since eliminated a substantial amount of dairy, ground meats, foods high in acid content, and caffeinated beverages from my diet. So far so good! I am glad to say that I don’t have to take any medications that suppress my immune system or steroids. As long as I remain vigilant, I hope to stay happy and healthy for a long time.
Where I’d like to be in 1 year:
I would like to be flare free from now until then. I would like to return to and maintain my active lifestyle.
Colitis Medications I’m Taking:
I take a medication called Colazol which is an anti-inflammatory medication specifically for the colon itself. It works well for me since my UC was triggered by a traumatic event rather than my immune system going haywire. As long as I stay on it and watch my diet for triggers, I can keep my UC under control and avoid the need for stronger medications or procedures.
written by Andrew
submitted in the colitis venting area