Today is a very special day because it is a time to remember many of us who have “disabilities” whether it is mental illness, a physical disability, Autism, ADHD, OCD, IBS, IBD, Crohn’s Disease or in my case, Ulcerative Colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease that I am born with though I wasn’t diagnosed since 2008. I had a variety of ailments ranging from being sick all the time to “burning” sensations in my joints. Then as I gotten older, coming to Hawaii, my skin became sensitive to sunlight creating a rash and blisters that would take time to heal. Later in my teenage years and early adulthood, I had depression and battled alcoholism and drugs. Finally, in the late 30s, I had gone cold turkey and been sober successfully since 2004 and it was then I began to experience the same ailments from childhood. The arthritic pain and burning feelings returned and at first, I thought they were repercussions from withdrawal. Then the bleeding occurred quite frequently along with diarrhea. I knew this was more than just me drying out. I also was frequently tired. From 2004 until 2008, I underwent many tests for Lupus, Anemia, when Gluten and other food allergies, and even for cancer and all the results came out negative. It wasn’t until May 0f 2008, the day my grandfather passed away when I got a call to come to the doctor’s office right away. The day I had bad bleeding to where I could smell nothing but blood. I raced over and then he told me what my condition was called Ulcerative Colitis.
This condition is when the antibodies fight against the immune system and the colon instead of the toxins in the body. Then it explained all of my earlier “symptoms” that were causing my health to be compromised since childhood. Now everything began to make sense.
Fast forward, it is three years since I was diagnosed and while I am considered having a “disability”, I feel ANYTHING but disabled. This illness was an opportunity for me to attend college full time; gave me a better understanding and compassion for people with compromised immune systems such as those with HIV and AIDS in which I work voluntarily as a Court Secretary for the Imperial Court of Hawaii, I am a part of the PRIDE Project on campus geared for students with special needs to ensure their educational needs are fulfilled to the fullest; I joined an online support group called I Have Ulceritis Colitis on its own site as well as its Facebook page to provide support to others whom have UC living with them; I have a deep connection to people with other disabilities who may not be able to things an average person is able to but try to encourage them to explore the other things they are confident and enjoy. This illness has taught me that if one route doesn’t work, then use another route. We all have special abilities and instead of focusing on the what we cannot do, cherish what we can and this takes the disable out of disability leaving us with an ability to make the most of what we can do.
I can now say with UC and ADHD, I am a writer, poet, an artist, a philosopher, a student, a humanitarian, and I am able!
Submitted by: Abled and Not Disabled
Medications: Prednisone 10mg, Asacol Melasalamine 400 mg.