The Four Types of Pain

colitis pains Meet Lyndsey:

I am a college student from Oklahoma, and I was diagnosed with UC my junior year of high school. It took six months of bloody stool and racing to the bathroom before I could convince my mother that something was wrong–she said it was just “stress”, and that it would pass. These days, there’s a beautiful facility that takes care of my medicine, at no cost. My friends are incredibly supportive, and I am determined to not let Colitis control my life. It’s so wonderful to discover other people going through the same thing, reading their stories and understanding. It’s like being among family.

Some more about me:

I’m a bookworm! Ha! You’ll never catch me without a couple novels in my purse. More than anything in this world, I want to be a writer, and recently I was fortunate enough to win a full-ride scholarship–doing the best I can to achieve this goal. I also enjoy sketching, painting, spending time with friends/family, and volunteering at the local and animal shelter (though I’m always tempted to come home with a dozen new pets!)…..I don’t know what else to say! Hmmm….I have a deathly fear of insects, I’m never without my headphones, and you should never leave a jar of Nutella unattended around me!

Colitis Symptoms:

The sores have gone away (hurray!), though I’ve had several attacks recently, with bleeding and stomach pain. You guys know the drill, every time you start to begin to feel a little better, tell yourself, “Hey! This isn’t so bad. Maybe I could eat something! Or, y’know, try that ‘standing up’ thing all the kids are talking about these days”, your colitis jumps up and shrieks, “GOTCHA!”–like a redneck uncle at a child’s birthday party.

There are Four types of Colitis Pain, as best as I can measure:

1. The Daily Pain–That soreness you carry always, like a headache in your tummy. It’s been there for so long you stop noticing it, toughen up and carry on with your day. This pain elbows you subtly in a crowd and says, “Hey-hey, you. Yes, you. With the face. Howsitgoin? By the way, yes that shirt does make you look fat.”

2. The Machete Pain– The hurt we all know, that sudden stabbing that tells you, “Get to the bathroom. Get to the bathroom **right now**, or something very embarrassing is going to happen.” It’s like getting hit in the stomach with a baseball bat
….Yes, yes, I know I already called it a *stabbing* pain, but maybe its…erm…a baseball bat with a machete attached. Some sort of hybrid for the super hardcore sports fans….

3. The Exhausting Pain– This one follows #2 (See what I did there? ‘#2’?? Get it? Huh? Huh?!) and #4. It’s the hurt that feels like swimming, with the waves crashing over your head. Laying in bed, drained, staring at the wall until that next attack sends you sprinting to the toilet.

4. The Boss Level–I have no joke about this one (not that my others were particularly good). That horrible tug inside you, that wrenching and twisting when there’s nothing left to come out but blood. The one that makes you bite your fist to choke a scream, cry if you’re not a crier, pray even if you’re not religious.

I’ve never described this to anyone. I’ve never complained about my Ulcerative Colitis without joking, without that mantra of, “I’m fine.” I hate seeming weak, melodramatic. But I take comfort in this reassuringly blank, nonjudgmental screen, and knowing that I’m not alone.

written by Lyndsey

submitted in the colitis venting area


14 thoughts on “The Four Types of Pain”

  1. oh lyndsey. i always said that pain was my worst symptom and i totally know every one you describe. i can add another.

    the “razor covered in barbed wire” pain. this is what i usually have. i literally feel like i’m being cut a million times from the inside out. it burns so bad then transitions into the “boss” pain where i twist my wrists and hold my hands and try not to cry. i’ve honestly almost broken my fingers because i’m trying to distract myself from making noise.

    my sister and i share a bathroom and i HATE when she walks in and sees me curled up on the toilet looking like i’m being exorcised.

    i wish it would end : (

    just talking about it makes me cry.

  2. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who has the constant dull ache. I told my GI about this and he suggested an xray to see if I was blocked up. I said no because I know I’m not and besides I’ve had 6 xrays, a CT scan and 2 sigmoidoscopies in the passed 6 months, I’m single handedly keeping Sydney radiology companies afloat! Lol

  3. Lyndsey –

    That’s great!! A full scholarship to college to do something you love? I think that is awesome. You should be soooo proud of yourself!

    Your assessment of pain is all too familiar. Something we learn to live with. Thanks for sharing it.

    I’m glad you are recv’ing healthcare at little to no cost too. That’s a real benefit.

    Good luck with everything!


  4. Geez, Lyndsey!
    You sure hit the nail on the head. I find it amazing that people manage to function and live their day to day lives while dealing with all of this pain. I haven’t been able to work in years, and fortunately have VERY supportive people in my life that keep me alive…and with a roof over my head. I was just thinking about that saying “Moms don’t get sick days.” So very true. My 6 and 9 year old daughters just returned from a trip to England, they were away for three weeks and I swear, I was more sick when they were gone! I think it might have been mild depression as well that made me sick. I was missing them so much, and since I didn’t have anyone to answer to, I stayed in bed a lot more and ‘ho-hummed’ the days away. Now that they are home, I feel a little BETTER, or at least happier! Maybe I’m just pushing through it and putting on a “happy mommy face” for them. I don’t know. What I DO know is that this pain we all experience is no joke, although sometimes joking about it makes it a bit easier. But I also think we NEED to be honest with the people who love us to help them better understand what we’re going through. I guess there is a balance, nobody wants to be a wet blanket all of the time! hahah! I’m rambling now.
    I really wish you the best of health and success in your writing. Your story was great and your description of all the pain was spot on! Keep it coming, your writing style is fun to read!!
    Richele :)

  5. You hit the nail right on the head! I am fortunate enough to be on steroids that keep the pain at bay. I like to call the “boss” pain “chestsplitter pain”… like from the movie “Alien” with Jodie Foster. Apparently the guy that wrote that had Crohn’s and that’s how he came up with the idea for the chest splitters. O__o

    in case you’re not familiar, here you go:

  6. Hi Lyndsey,
    Great story, if that is the right thing to say, it is terrible that you have to deal with these things but your way of writing was funny. I too never wanted to be the wet blanket, but actually whenI finally opened up to my friends and family about how bad things were they were sort of mad that I hadnt told them sooner. i think the only person that knew fully how bad I was is my husband but towards the end (I recently had the first surgery of the j-pouch) I wasnt even fully telling him how bad I felt. It is a devastating disease and it takes so much of your life away, I am super stubborn and didnt want to let it control my life but it did. I am now on the road to recovery and the last 3 weeks even with the pain of surgery I feel so much better than I have in the last 9 years. Good luck girl, you have a great talent and wish you the best.

  7. I am currently on step two, I couldn’t have described this better! Does anyone else get chills/fever between machete pain and running to the bathroom.

  8. Thank you. I am going to take this to the Dr. and let hi get a dose of reality. I have tried to explain the pain to the family but never could have put it this well.

    I appreciate your comments and wish you well. I have been living with this for over 25 years. It has slowed me down but not stopped me. There are days I simply can’t get up and get going. I just try to do my best and wait for a good day to come along.

    Sometimes the hardest part is for the family. I am sitting there in the bathroom and they want to get out and do something that has been planned. I always feel like I am making an excuse. I am not. I just can’t get out the door.

  9. I don’t think I have ever heard or seen a better articulation of the sensations experienced from UC. I was only diagnosed a year ago but I am fairly unresponsive to nearly all medications and have been in various states of a flare up since last October. I am asked nearly every day by friends, coworkers and family how I’m doing and the “I’m fine” mantra is well used. I also joke that I’m only one week away from my goal weight as I am constantly losing weight and now weigh the same as I did when I was 17 years old.

    Thanks for putting this into such a succinct explanation. I just emailed it to my family so that when they ask how I am feeling, I can identify that day/moments pains more clearly to them.

    Be tough. We’ll make it through.

  10. Just grateful I finally got a few Docs take me serious after 30 yrs of begging for relief from the daily machete pain.. lol.. diarrhea 3 yrs solid, 10 plus times daily, up all night sick. Thankfully I’m a self employed contractor due to missing work more than I make it.. my sister died young from this, my grandpa among many others. H pylori was the root cause of mine, along with celiac sprue. My family has ridiculed me all these years and still do, for being so ill.. I have one friend who helps when she can.. it’s a lonely nice to hear y’all being so positive on light of the pain you go thru. Thanks and blessings..

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