Just Diagnosed – Living in a Foriegn Country

Garret traveling

Garret traveling


My name is Garret I am 23 years old and just diagnosed but have had symptoms for a long time without realizing it. From California but i currently live in South Korea.


Living in South Korea with Ulcerative Colitis

Hey guys as the bio says I am recently diagnosed but now that I look back on it I have always had issues. I have always had dairy digestive problems and in college had some very minor flare-ups but they where always dismissed as enteritis or a result of my diet ( at the time I was a vegetarian, so I doubt that) but figured it was probably alcohol and just running the body ragged with work, school, and social life. I have had two separate occasions in the past year and a half where i would have severe discomfort and blood in my stools. The first time it went away just changing the diet and taking it easy a couple days but this last time it kept persisting. I dealt with it for about a week and was under stress from that and my job but it never got any better only worse and I was having a lot of blood. So I finally phoned in my work one day and after much explaining told them I was going to the hospital.

The doctor at first also said that a little blood in the stools was cuz I was young and probably a cause of drinking as many men young and old fall victim to sever enteritis in Korea due to the country’s heavy drinking culture. I gave a stool sample and came back a week later still uncomfortable and he requested a colonoscopy and the initial diagnosis was UC. I needed to wait another week before the biopsy results during which they put me on a low grade anti-inflammatory, which was totally ineffective. During that time i started introducing the SCD diet into my life and have to say its basically like being a vegetarian again but with a little cheating on the side.

The biopsy and a talk with my Dr. out here confirmed it all and he has decided to start me out on very lite doses of Methylprednisolone (8mg a day) and Asacol (1200mg) since I had no effect to the other lighter drug. He said that this is the standard international treatment for mild colitis and has given me all the necessary information to pass onto my doctor in California and of course I will get as many opinions as a can.  However it has been somewhat stressful for me being in a foreign country and the different bedside manner of the doctors in Korea.

They are often very fast

and you really have to press them

to have any questions answered.

I did not want to be on prednisolone or anything but he was very quick and uninformative about any possible side effects, he prefers patients that are not involved in decision making. In his defense though, in a quick amount of time my symptoms are quickly going away and I truly believe if i stay on this medication and continue the diet I will be in remission and hopefully off of meds.

I really want to give my thanks to this site and all you fellow UCers. Being in a foreign country only about one friend and my girlfriend are there to understand what colitis even means let alone being able to pronounce it. Trying to talk to my Korean co-workers about it is always a bit frustrating and having to explain to them I don’t have cancer and I don’t need to eat more kimchi is always a good laugh for myself, but this site is a great asset!

Luckily I’m surprising my family in a bout a week by going home which turned out to be amazing timing. During that time i will see all the necessary folks to get as much input on this as i can.

My question/concern is that I love to travel

that is why I am out here in the first place.

My next trip is suppose to be to Cambodia in a month so I want to know if anyone has any advice about traveling with UC? What do you eat? Traveling with meds and paper work cuz i have never done it before? And what do you do if you start having symptoms and you are traveling far or on a plane or a bus or what? Any input anyone has would be great and I thank all the people that are so positive it is having a great effect on me.

written by Garret

submitted in the Colitis Venting Area

some other Travel Related UC Stories:

Travel and the SCD Diet

Travels to South Africa with UC




5 thoughts on “Just Diagnosed – Living in a Foriegn Country”

  1. Hey Garret,

    that’s so cool you are travelling the world! way awesome.

    As for travels with UC. I don’t know what type of health insurance you have, but you might want to call your insurance company and find out if they have any rules or regulations regarding you receiving healthcare in foreign countries. If you’re with a Korean health insurance company, I have no idea on how things work out there, but it might give you some assurance that you are covered no matter where you travel(which hopefully will make you feel much better if something did come up while you’re on the go.)

    As for travelling with medications on airplanes etc… I have done that a bit, and never had any problems as long as the medications were in their original perscriptions.

    You might want to take some of your medical records with you, such as your diagnosis report, or scan it and email it to yourself. If something did come up, a doctor somewhere might want to read it, and who knows, it might keep you from having another colonoscopy etc… (Just an idea, but might make sense to have some of that stuff in a soft copy version that’s easily accessible)

    As for food, I usually stay away from foods that are unknown in terms of how they affect you. It might be too early for you to know for sure, so in that case, I’d just take things very easy and in moderation. No reason to pig out on crazy looking/tasting foods if you can just eat a little bit and try to learn if it agrees with you or not…

    BEST OF LUCK TO YOU on your travels and with your UC! I wish I could be there joining you on the Cambodian tour!

  2. Garrett… I live in Seoul right now and I have ulcerative colitis too! I would love it if you’d contact me and we could talk about living here with uc. I have a great doctor here so I wanted to ask what city you live in as well. Let me know your email or if youd like mine… I have had uc for a little over a year and would be more than happy to discuss living broad with uc with you… orry if thissounds overly enthusiastic but I havent found anyone else with uc over here to talk to abou it.

  3. Adam: Actually it works out that my Korean Health insurance covers about 90% of the costs of anything having to do with my UC so that is pretty cool! As far as travel insurance I am SOL as far as i know but maybe now I will try to square some emergency plan with my at home provider. Yeah good idea on the digital copies I always have the hard copy but a digital one is a fast and easy access that is on my clip with me 24/7 so can’t hurt. So far my body has taken well to the medicine and have been reintroducing foods back into my diet with little trouble at all!

    Stephanie: Yeah i live in Seoul as well! I was going to the Saint Mary’s Hospital in Seocho but I have switched over to the International Clinic at the SunChunHyang University Hospital in Itaewon and so far as good but would definitely like to correspond with you and share some feed back/ encouragement. You are the only other person I have heard with this out here as well and It would help us both to talk to another person about it.

  4. I t sounds like you have decent hospital back up there. I really sympathize with you guys who live away from home because we do to. I have turned to the Internet to gain as much knowledge as possible. We are currently living in Borneo, Indonesia and have very little access to many of the specific items in the recipes. My daughter is 12 and we are starting the diet on Monday! I baked the muffins from this site and they were good so taking them to feed kids on school pickup. Best of luck with your trip to Cambodia. We were there for new year just past. Awesome place. Food is bland and we found it not that good. You will have to take care, but there is fruits, veggies and soups!!! Good little grocers and plenty of eggs :)

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