New to Ulcerative Colitis – My name’s Brittany

brittany uc

here I am

Introduction:

In late July/early August of 2011 I was the happiest I had been in a long time. I was in a relationship with the most amazing man I have ever met and I was getting ready to move in with him. I had a plan to begin graduate school and felt that my life was moving in a positive direction. Then my health started to decline.

My Colitis Experience:

At first I just noticed some loose stool. Not a problem, it’ll go away. Then a couple weeks later I started to notice blood in my stool. I was a little worried, but figured it would go away. A week passed and I started to notice a lot of blood in the toilet and I was getting these awful stomach cramps. I went to and Urgent Care clinic and was told that I probably had an intestinal virus, so I was given something for the cramps and told it would clear up within a week. Another week passed and the cramps were gone, but I still had bloody, loose stooles. So I scheduled a visit with my family physician. She told me I probably had an intestinal parasite, took a stool sample, and put me on Flagyl. A few days passed and I began to bleed a lot without passing any stool.

The cramps put me down and made me want to cry,

vomit, and pass out at the same time.

woman bodybuilder with colitis

This was my first figure show in May 2011. One of my goals is to get back into shape and compete again!

I didn’t want to eat anything because it would just pass through me and make things worse. My boyfriend finally convinced me to go to the ER. They drew blood and took a stool sample. My blood count was normal so they gave me more meds for the cramps and told me to get a colonoscopy. Wonderful.
I had to jump through hoops to get an appointment the same week! I had to tell the receptionist that I was bleeding out of my rectum before she would get me an appointment that wasn’t weeks away! I’m 23, do you think I WANT to get a colonoscopy?! Anyways, I survived the prep and the colonoscopy and was diagnosed with UC. I was put on Dicyclomine, Prednisone, and Lialda.
My UC started to clear up the next day and I could finally eat solid food without it passing through me. I was also able to make it to the gym without having to run to the bathroom constantly. Life was getting better. A couple of weeks went by and I noticed I had intense back pain every night when I would lay down. I gave it week and then called my GI. He took me off the Lialda and put me on Apriso. The back pain went away almost instantly.
At this point in time I was ready to begin dieting to put on some muscle in preparation for a figure show in 2012. I began working with my personal trainer and I was so excited. Then I hit another wall. I woke up one day with pain in my hip flexor. No big deal, I probably pulled it working out. By the end of the day I was in so much pain I could barely walk. The pain went away within a couple of days, but then my other hip flexor started to hurt. I chalked it up to overcompensating for the other hip flexor. A couple of days went by and the pain went away. Then I woke up with a swollen and painful knee. Okay, something wasn’t right. I scheduled another visit with my family physician. That night, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep. My doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong but prescribed me some pain meds. Such wonderful drugs :) I went home and called my GI. He took me off the Apriso and put me on Sulfasalazine. Eventually I stopped the Dicyclomine a nd tapered off the Prednisone.
My pain started to go away, but not completely. After doing some research I figured out that I have arthritis.

Great, arthritis at 23.

Prior to all of this, my health was in excellent condition. No broken bones, only minor surgeries, I ate healthy, found a huge love for weight lifting and was the thinnest and most muscular I had ever been. Then BAM!! I was hit with a chronic disease. It took about a week for everything to sink in, but once it did I was hit hard. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I ate healthy and worked hard to have a great body and this is what I get? I was so angry, upset, and confused. I became depressed and turned into a completely different person. I cried every day and couldn’t see the good in anything. It took every ounce of energy for me to get out of bed every morning. I was mean to the people that loved and cared about me. I felt like my life was over.
I thank God for my boyfriend. If he wasn’t by my side through all of this I don’t know how I would have made it through everything. He kept a positive attitude everyday and always found a way to make me smile.

At this point in time, my UC is still under control

but my arthritis is still keeping me down.

I’m trying to stay dairy free and somewhat gluten free. I haven’t been to the gym in well over a month and have to put the figure show on hold until next year. I’m still moving in and out of depression. Without exercise I have no outlet for stress and I know I’ve gained some weight. I feel so unattractive, powerless, and out of control. I just started taking Naproxen for my arthritis. It hasn’t helped yet, but maybe I need to give it time. My current GI sucks and I’m getting ready to move to Louisiana next weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a doctor who knows what he/she is doing so I can live my life again.

If anyone has any advice or tips, please let me know. Especially ones relating to arthritis. How do I deal with it or what can I take? Will this ever go away or am I stuck with it forever?

written by Brittany

submitted in the Colitis Venting Area




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21 Responses to New to Ulcerative Colitis – My name’s Brittany

  1. Dede Cummings January 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Brittany, I have arthritis, too, from Crohn’s disease/UC, and it is really hard. Your ordeal sounds terrible! I hope you find a great GI: I found mine through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.org website: ccfa.org. He rocks, though very conservative and is always freaking out ’cause I am not on any meds. I went off Prednisone in 2006. I do diet (SCD got me started!) now (not as radical as SCD, but non-fat, no wheat, organic, etc.), and Omega 3 oil capsules daily really help my arthritis pain. I, too, have hip flexor problems, and just this year stress fractures in my left leg :( so I can’t run which is wrecking havoc on my serotonin-craving brain!

    Hang in there! I am x-c skiing (less impact), walking, doing daily yoga and meditation. There was an amazing article recently (WSJ, “A Gut Check for Many Ailments”) that talks about the gut-brain connection, which is amazing and you are probably depressed cause your gut is! Check out the article, and try eating a careful diet, getting sleep, yoga, oh, and Epsom salt baths (I also use lavender oil and candles in the tub to relieve stress :) It is hard at first, but maybe a naturopathic doctor will help with the arthritis—supplements, like probiotics, are awesome—and welcome to this site!

    • Brittany
      Brittany January 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Hi Dede,
      Thanks for the advice! There are a lot of things I want to try yet to get rid of this arthritis pain and off medication. I’m definitely going to try the Omega 3s and probiotics!

      • marjory April 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

        Brittany,
        Ive had uc for almost 2 years, medicine is horrible and side effects are terrible. I take no medicine at the moment. I just came off of presdinose quickly side effects terrible. I ve had 2 blood transfusion 12/10/ and 12/12 . Listen come off all the medicine and try this amazing diet. I ve been off the med’s for almost 1 1/2 months now . No bleeding… renfroepinnacle@comcast.net/ marjory renfroe@yahoo.com

  2. dave evans January 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Brittany–Remicade fixed my adjuvant arthritis but they usually make you try alot of drugs first–

    • Brittany
      Brittany January 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Hi Dave,
      I’ve read a lot about Remicade and how much it can help, but I’m hoping I don’t have to go through so many medications to get there!

  3. Sick and Tired January 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Hi Brittany,

    I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal. Like you, I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I also have arthritis in my right knee. I don’t know if it is the result of my UC or not. My family doctor recommended that I see an orthopedic specialist so I went and he suggested that I try injections. I have received 3 injections of Orthovisc and it has helped. I don’t have any pain in my knee. It’s a series of 3 injections and it is supposed to last for 6 months. I’m also taking Asacol for my UC and it seems to be helping. I’m following a gluten free diet and watch what I eat. I think you have to see what will work for you and I think you have to find the right physicians too. I wish you all the best.

    • Brittany
      Brittany January 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      Hey Sick and Tired,
      I’ll have to keep those injections in mind. At this point, I’m willing to try anything! I’ve been mostly gluten-free, but I think I’m going to try to be completely gluten-free and see where that gets me.

  4. Erica January 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    Hi Brittany! Its sucks having UC I know because I have it too! Just know better days are ahead and just keep your stress level down as much as possible. Its normal to vent and lash out with this disease, I understand. You are normal and dealing with it as we all have. It will get better…
    I am from Baton Rouge Louisiana, but now living in Texas. What part of LA you guys moving to? Best to you, Brittany!

    • Brittany
      Brittany January 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      Hi Erica,

      We are moving to Denham Springs.

  5. Jo Ann January 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Please note that colitis and UC are NOT the same thing. Many use these names for each other, but they are completly TWO DIFFERENT things.
    I have UC and was diagnosed years ago. I have done every medicine you can mention and am now on NO MEDICINES. I have found I can do more with diet that meds. It has worked for me, but it not for everyone.
    No lactose, no gluten and very low sugar. no beef

    • Brittany
      Brittany January 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Hi Jo Ann,
      I’m a huge believer in fixing this with a proper diet. I just need to figure out what works for me. Hopefully I can get where you are and become medication free!

  6. Rahwayrunner January 23, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis, but I have a few thoughts that may help. I was diagnosed with UC in my early teens (35 years ago) and have managed my disease without opting for surgery. First, colonoscopy will be a necessary procedure every few years. During the early years of my diagnosis, I relied on sulfasalazine exclusively. I found that drinking alcohol when on this medication was a problem (my college years). I also maintained my fitness schedule. This helped me to manage my disease.
    As of now, I relay on Asacol (the Lialda dosage is too much for me), and occasionally Rowasa for flare-ups. As to diet – I am lactose sensitive so uncultured dairy products are out. Besides eating fresh fruit and yogurt, I follow no other special diet regiments. If I am active, I avoid nuts, corn (popcorn), and irritating spices (pepper, curry powder). I exercise daily – a mix of aerobic and strengthening exercises – and I take glucosamine for my joints.
    I have learned to accept and live with my UC.

  7. Heather January 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Hi Brittany,
    I am 22 yrs.old and have UC. I was diagnosed in May of 2010 and it has definitely been a struggle. I was first but on Asacol which was of no help. Next I was placed on Apriso and Rowasa Enemas which helped some. This passed summer I was placed on pred. and while tapering my dose (too fast) found myself in the hosp. due to dehydration and severe bloody diarrhea. I think I have finally went into remission with Asacol and Remicade. I do also believe that watching what I eat has helped me the most. I dont eat any raw veggies, nuts, greasy food, or really spicy food. I also notice that I have more trouble when I get stressed so I’m still working on not getting overly stressed. Which is very difficult since I have a stressful job and many other things going on in my life. I dont know what I would have done without my husband he has been a very strong support system for me. I use to run several times a week and do cardio and now I rarely workout. I too have gained weight and also have been losing hair ( probably from the Remicade) so I sometimes struggle with how I look, but am extremely grateful for started to get my life back. Hang in there, there will be many ups and downs, but dont let UC rule your life

    • Brittany
      Brittany January 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Hi Heather,
      I definately need to work on not getting stessed as well. Sometimes I think if I just slow down I’ll destress a little. Thanks telling me a little bit about yourself. This site is a great place to meet others who are going through the same things. Congrats on being in remission! I hope you stay there for a while!

  8. Jackie January 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Hi Brittany,
    Firstly, you should probably stop with the Naproxen immediately. Naproxen and ibiprophen based painkillers will cause bleeding and worsen your UC, although it may help a drop for your joints(stick with extra strength tylenol or get a prescription for percosat/vicodin). My UC related arthritis has been 1000X worse than my colon trouble, the only thing that helped was high levels of prednisone, which as you may know has so many side effects I’d never go on that again, as well as Humira, which was a wonder drug for me, literally took away all my joint pain within a few months, currently I am on a similar medication called Cimzia after breaking out in hives one too many from the Humira. You should see a rheumatologist with knowledge of intestinal related arthritis and discuss medication options, THERE IS NO REASON FOR YOU TO CONTINUE LIKE THIS WHEN THERE IS MEDICATION OUT THERE THAT CAN TAKE THE JOINT PAIN GO AWAY. I find that being in touch with my rheumatologist and GI and having them talk to each other makes the UC alot more manageable. Hang in there, ity’ll get better. Also, Adam recently posted a survey for those of us with UC who have joint pain (thank you Adam, this is so helpful, I can’t wait to see the results!), the results may be helpful for you so keep an eye out for that. Hang in there!
    All the best,
    Jackie

  9. B January 24, 2012 at 4:30 am #

    Hi Brittany,

    UC can be pretty devastating. I’ve been dealing with it since Nov. 10′. My symptoms started Feb. 10′, very mild, just a little blood laced in solid stool. It was my last semester of college, I was going out too much, not working out enough, ignoring my body, and was completely stressed over what my plans were for the future. I was diagnosed with UC in June 10′ and by Nov. 10′ I went int a FULL blown pancolitis flare. It was absolutely terrifying and since has put me in the hospital at least 70 days total, 14 units of blood transfers and a lot of abuse from horrible doctors. Find a good doctor. It is SO important to find a doctor whether MD or ND who is on the same page as you treatment wise. I could have avoided a lot of heartache if only i’d found a good one from the beginning. Bad doctors have a way of making you feel like a failure and ashamed of being sick. Anyway, I too experienced horrendous joint pain. However, for some reason it didn’t last long. But I feel your pain, it was just pain on top of UC pain.

    The brain gut connection is very interesting and I suggest you research it a little. It will at least help you understand, if nothing else. I have tried many different things and unfortunately am basically unresponsive to all medical treatments. Because of this, I have explored MANY natural approaches. Acupuncture, though very expensive, can sometimes help. It kept me from a blood transfusion a few times but I had to quit because the price was just unrealistic ($80/session 3x week). Also, check out http://www.biomonde-asia.com/english/home/home.html. TSO has a lot of fascinating research behind it. At my worst, I was 87lbs with at home TPN feeding when I started TSO for the first time. Within two months I was about 75% better. I recently had to quit because it is of course, ridiculously expensive. I quite taking it about 2 month ago and ended up back in the hospital about one month ago. So, I ordered it again thanks to my incredibly supportive family. Just research at the very least, it’ll give you hope other than these awful drugs that in my opinion don’t work enough to justify the side effects. One last thing you should look into… its ABSOLUTELY disgusting but has been a miracle for some. Fecal Transplant. Haha I can’t even go into detail you’ll just have to look it up. Go to healingwell.com and type in “Fecal Transplant Ulcerative Colitis” and read read read. I believe in medical and I believe in holistic. WIth this disease you have to do what works whether its intense drug therapy, holistic methods, or surgery. I will avoid surgery at all costs because like you, I’m a young female (24) and the idea of potentially having a poop bag or a confusing J-pouch makes me feel incredibly sad.

    Lastly, a few supplements that may provide relief:

    Psyllium, marshmallow root, slippery elm, and lecithin mixed in a shaker with coconut milk or water- shake shake shake and drink it down followed by lots of water. This helps a lot for me. Canned coconut, coconut water, and coconut milk are all very soothing to the gut.
    Fish oil, folic, b12, and butyrate are the ones i’ve stuck with most consistently.
    Aloe vera juice with the inner fillet (can’t remember the brand but there is one that does not cause D)

    I’ve never commented on this site but something about your story and some of the people who commented really touched my heart. I hope that there is an answer in some of this for you. Just try whatever you can and maybe, like me, the arthritis will just disappear. I believe mine was from tapering from prednisone WAY to quickly. Now I taper about 2.5mg/5days. It sucks but worth it. Keep your faith and try not to lose hope. And DO NOT apologize for lashing out or feeling sad… this disease truly is devastating and unless your experience it first hand you couldn’t possibly understand.

    God bless, your in my prayers :)

  10. B January 24, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Oops one last thing… Look into food allergy and/or intolerance testing. You have to be off prednisone and a few other meds to get accurate results. It’s a simple blood test. The one i’ll do is igG Elisa. May be worth a shot! I’ve spoken to several people who have digestive issues that found out they were intolerant to things such as corn or potato and it has helped them tremendously!

  11. Charis January 24, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    My goal is to gain muscle and compete again in figure as well!! Good luck to you girl – just keep moving forward, day by day and stay focused on your end goal!! ~Charis~

  12. Michelle January 31, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    Hey Brittany,
    I’m sorry your going through this, it is pretty terrible in the beginning but it will get better when you find something to help manage your symptoms. I’ve had ulcerative colitis for four years and its definitely been a rough time figuring things out and trying to get my body feeling better. I’ve had the joint pains and fatigue lack of energy, its terrible, and a lot of it is the side effects of the medicine. But I want to tell you that for the first time I’ve been feeling a lot better these past few months because of the lifestyle changes and supplements that I found. I take fish oil. I’ve also been getting acupuncture which is SO HELPFUL for pain management, the emotional issues, and the healing process. So find a good place in your area on yelp where you can go get acupuncture. also i started collostrum plus by symbiotics, and I take probiotics called orthobiotic. I think all of this is really helping and its even shown in my fourth colonoscopy which i had this week and the results showed that I can take less of my mercaptopurine which is amazing. I think its the supplements, acupuncture and lifestyle changes. I;m also starting on chinese herbs from this place in LA called dragon herbs. I just started that this week. But I am hoping that things continue to stay how its going. And also one thing, if you see something online about aloe vera capsules for ulcerative colitis, i would stay away from that its expensive and didnt do anything for me. it actually made my symptoms worse in the beginning and i felt like it was not helping. Good luck and send me an email if you have any questions. michelle.roseroth@gmail.com.

  13. Britney February 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Hi Brittany, this is Britney. Nice name. I also have ulcerative colitis and I’m young too. I think it’s never wise to ignore what anyone is saying without considering it fully, but I’m tempted to say ignore virtually any patient out there who says “go off this, go on that” because they are not doctors. While docs don’t know everything and in our society we have many legitimate complaints about them (they make terrible mistakes, they treat the symptoms instead of focusing on the cause, etc.), there’s a reason they are licensed to treat others and we are not. So don’t do anything without keeping your family MD and also you gastroenterologist apprised of what you’d like to do or what you’ve done which very reasonably and legitimately can be influenced by what sufferers of UC/colitis/proctitis/arthitis tell you on boards like this or even your own direct research on the web. Now, all that being said, fecal transplants are ignore because they are, well, gross to think about and considered alternative/complimentary medicine (as opposed to traditional). Alternative medicine is a broad category that doesn’t just mean it’s non-licensed healers using it — it’s a whole body of medicine that’s implemented by regular medical doctors as well and in that case it’s called “complimentary” because it’s in addition to the traditionally accepted treatments they use. They use complimentary treatments that are supported by research evidence but sometimes they are smaller, less-expensively done studies with a natural “medicine” like medicinal herbs (not to be confused with culinary herbs). These things have potent effects on bodies and other traditional medicines so they must be used in consultation with a real MD. I have a traditional medical doctor as my GI and he recommended a fecal transplant for me which completely cured by ulcerative colitis. This guy is not a wacko…he has an Ivy League medical school degree and did his residency and fellowship in Ivy League schools. The transplant is nothing more than docs putting a family member’s poo inside your butt in a sterile environment. It repopulates your GI tract good organisms. Voila! It works in many people. It’s not rocket science. You can read about it on wikipedia by searching for Fecal bacteriotherapy. Ask you doctor about it…if he’s never heard about it or doesn’t believe in it, ask him what research he’s read on it. You can read the studies yourself. Usually docs aren’t familiar with it because it’s fairly cutting edge. When you get to Louisiana, simply find a doctor who has a good GI background and solid academic foundation and reputation who is familiar with it. It’s worth a shot! I think it has a good chance of working for you. And again, don’t do ANYTHING without consulting at least some licensed doctor before doing it.

  14. Kimberly January 18, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Hi Brittany; I hope you are doing better. I live in Ny and I was diagnose on october of 2011, after a month of blood and loose stol. Similar to your experience, I’m just 12 years older! I’m also a big fan of the gym ( I used to work out hard alt least 4-5 times a week). There not much I can tell you, I was put in remission after a round of prednisone and a back up of Asacol Hd, replaced later by 4 lialdas a day. I had to go for a second roud with a lower dose of prednisone becuase I started taking fish oil and it didnt go very well :(. At this moment I take 4 ialdas a day, I tried lowering it to 2 but it didn’t do it for me. I also use canasa suppositories in the am and rowasa enemas in the pm. I know its not fun but there is people in worst conditions! I’m about to start TSO in a a month, because I’m tired of the side effects of meds. Adressing that point I wanted to tell you what I know. The arthritis is mainly cause by the lialda, asacol, or apriso. I ocassionaly suffer from back pain so I’m going to ask my GI to change me to pentasa ( it is an older drug but with less side effects). I have a very good GI, he’s world wide recognized, and pretty much writes the book in UC. He wants to start me in 6mp so I can stop rthe enemas, my proctitis flares when I try tampering out of them. I would tell you be very careful going back to the gym, that is my biggest problem, everytime I hit the gym I start to flare! and its the presure in the rectum that starts it!!! it only doesnt happen when I’m in pred!. So I’ll give the advise that my GI gave me. Dont take supplemets until your UC is under contol. for vitamins and minerals just eat the food. Stay away from anythings process food ( read labels). Stay away from lactose and too much sugars ( I use raw honey for everything) about to start trying sweet leaf stevia. I also tried the SCD for 90 days, and I didnt see any improvement from it!. when it comes to Remicade or Humira be very careful they can cause MS in people with UC, NOT IN PEOPLE WITH CD! I read the reasearchs and spoke about it with my GI. So if the TSO doesnt work in the next 7 month, 6mp would have to be my next step. I hope this helps you in some way! My best wishes to you abd everbody in this board. I’m kind of new to this too, but I tried to find out as much as I could, so if there is something I could help with plese let me know. Best Kim

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