I’m a 26 year old man living in Austin, Texas. Online advertiser by day, musician by night. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis on New Year’s Day, 2 years ago.
My Colitis Tale:
I never trusted the doctors I had. The symptoms began in late 2009. Typical stuff, loose stools, occasional blood, cramping, etc. I went to a general practitioner, who directed me to a gastroenterologist. The specialist wanted to run tests on my poop for bacteria and such. After submitting the sample, I waited around for the result which came back as “healthy” so he put me on anti-diarrhea medicine (Immodium I believe).
I stumbled through until Christmas when I went to visit my family. I came down with terrible flu like symptoms and was in bed for days at a time with fever. Worried, my family took me to the emergency room in their town who gave slightly better advice that something might be wrong. It was beyond their specialty though, so they gave me some food and drink to rehydrate and sent me on my way. Back in bed, finally a family member was worried on new year’s eve and took me to the big hospital. I was checked in and diagnosed with UC within a day.
I was immediately put on Prednisone, I.V. pain killers and had multiple blood transfusions due to the very low blood pressure and loss which was continually occurring in the bathroom. I left the hospital after 5 days, with the typical Prednisone side effects of megalomania and extreme appetite. I ate like a maniac (coolest side effect I’ve ever experienced from medicine). Unfortunately, the majority of Prednisone’s side effects are terrible, including the chest, neck and back acne, joint pain, and what can feel like absolute insanity in your thought process. For the better of a week, I was unable to walk at times due to the pain in my knees from the medicine. Nearly had to call on friends just to get the pain medicine I had left in the car at one point as I was barely able to even crawl. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of taking whatever the doctor writes on the paper.
Where I’d like to be in 1 year:
Histamine levels immediately caught my eye as I have seasonal allergies (one for each season!) that I just sort of “live with.” It has been reported that histamine is high in patients with UC, specifically in the colon. This is like a reaction to something you’re allergic to and causes inflammation in the areas where histamine levels are higher. I decided to try an anti-histamine, Loratadine (Claritin), which did nothing but dry out my throat. I switched to Fexofenadine (Allegra) and immediately noticed my allergy symptoms disappearing (not completely, but considering how much mold is in the air in Austin, I’m not doing bad). Since the medicine was cheap, I got enough to last 2 months. What happened next was awesome.
It so happens that I was in the middle of a flare when I started taking the anti-histamines. I still hadn’t figured out exactly what would cause this and it can be a terrifying feelings. For me, I simply never want to go back to the doctor for this disease. They’re entirely too quick to break out the pen and pad. I started to notice, about a week and a half into taking the anti-histamines, that my poop was becoming more solid. Typically, the loose stool is the first symptom to disappear for me when fighting a flare. That was hopeful for me.
I stayed on the Fexofenadine, curious to see where things would go. After about 3 weeks, my poop was back to completely solid, which by my reasoning meant that some of the inflamed portions of my colon were healing and absorbing water again from my bodily waste. There were still streaks of blood on the poop which wasn’t the best sign, but I felt much more engaged and alive and was only going to the restroom once a day. At this point, I still had made no diet adjustments (it should be noted that I drink very regularly and was also suspicious that alcohol was causing issues with my UC). With over a month left of medicine this was some considerable progress.
About 2 weeks later, I had my first poop with no blood. Nothing. Nothing visible on the toilet paper, in the toilet, on the poop, nothing at all. No changes to my diet (occasional fast food, sandwiches, and home cooked meals. Alcohol in some form every day of the week). Start to finish, from flare to symptom free was about 4-5 weeks on Fexofenadine.
I want to put a caveat here for anyone reading and looking for a miracle cure to their disease: everyone is different. Some people have no fear of doctors, and have symptoms and body chemistry much different than mine. My story is intended to help anyone who sees similarities with themselves and wants to try something safe and potentially very effective.