Hi my name is Brian, I am 23 years old and I was recently diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in January of this year. What is unique about my case is that I had mono for two months prior to my diagnosis. As soon as I thought the mono was settling down I began to experience colitis symptoms which hit me hard and very suddenly. The problem with crohn’s and colitis is that so little is known about these diseases that doctors are not prepared to make a correlation between the two illnesses (mono and colitis). Although I might add that a girl who works with my dad experienced the exact same thing as me; in her final year of university she got mono, followed suddenly by ulcerative colitis……is this just coincidence?
Brian’s Ulcerative Colitis Story:
As I mentioned my name is Brian and I am 23 years old. I was recently diagnosed with what they are calling indeterminate ulcerative colitis, which is the term they use for when they are not 100 % sure whether or not it is crohn’s or colitis. My case is somewhat unique because I had mono for two months and then the colitis symptoms hit me suddenly and a little after a week I was hospitalized. They of course tested me for everything besides colitis until nine days later, because my doctor found it unusual that I had never experienced any colitis related symptoms until that week before. At first the thought it was an infectious disease called “c difficile”, and they even tested me for HIV. After the nine days it became clear that I would need a colonoscopy and that yielded enough information to diagnose me with “indeterminate ulcerative colitis” and i was placed on 40 mg of predizone and asacol (mezavant). After another 2 weeks I was discharged from the hospital and feeling quite good; at least that’s what i thought. Since this was all new to me I had no idea what a flare was like, or if I was healing properly etc. Long story short, a week and a half later i was back in the hospital because my symptoms only worsened so I was taken from my house by ambulance to the emergency and they immediately got me hydrated and then swiched up up medication. I was put on 60mg of predizone, stayed with the asacol as well and they added another drug called imuran. Ok so hears where my story becomes positive………after two weeks I was released from the hospital and have been feeling better each day! The medications are working great for me, I am essentially symptom free at the moment and I have only been out of the hospital for 3 weeks. When I first came home i weight 107 pounds (i am around 5′ 11) and I am now 125. Im usually 150 pounds…..but the weight has really started to come back on which is very encouraging. I watch what I eat, I have seen multiple dietitians and nutritionists, as well as talked to my friends who suffer from UC or crohn’s. There are a few universal rules i have heard regarding diet such as avoid hard to digest and gassy foods such as raw broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower, etc. they also say avoid alcohol. I have yet to experiment with any of these yet, but I will eventually once i feel more comfortable. I started off with a very strict organic soft diet. i was eating things that were soft and easy on the digestive system such as baby food, apple sauce, puree soups. for protein I ate tuna, chicken and turkey. I also avoided wheat and just ate everything rice…..rice milk, rice bread, rice crackers. Now….like 2 weeks later I am way more comfortable with what i eat, i am becoming more liberal and have had no issues at all. I believe that everybody reacts differently to certain foods and that everybody has their own individual triggers. For some alcohol is no problem, but for others it causes flares. my friend who has colitis can not eat processed deli meats…..but I can. It is really all about trial and error and trying to figure out how your body handles the disease. This is the same for drugs; what may work for me may not work for others. This is what makes this disease so difficult! It would be great if they had a chart of what we can and cannot put into our bodies, so we could just follow a set list of rules and get on with our lives. Unfortunately each individual has to learn to cope with there UC in their own way, because our bodies are all very different. In all, from what I have experienced so far I will say that it takes a little time but with a positive attitude everything will heal and recovery is inevitable. I am still very new to this disease but thus far I am impressed with how fast everything is improving for me. I just hope that once I start weening off the predizone I don’t relapse again.
Brian’s story is now entered into the 2011 Ulcerative Colitis Writing Contest!!! You Can Join too, click here for details