Five years ago, I had never heard of ulcerative colitis. About a week and a half before I got married, I became quite sick and didn’t know what was wrong. Some tests were run on me and the results didn’t turn up anything. I did everything I could to look happy at my wedding, but at times it was difficult knowing how much my insides hurt. After our wedding, we were planning on taking a drive down the California coast and stop in at Disneyland. I wasn’t feeling well, so that plan was still being evaluated. However, on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the decision was made for us and we came straight home.
Upon getting back, my doctor had me consult with a gastroenterologist to schedule a colonoscopy. A colooscopy is one of the most uncomfortable tests that could ever be performed, not the test itself, but the day before the test when you have to get cleaned out with stomach lube (glycol, glycerol, or some other yuckful stuff). It wasn’t until after the procedure that I was told I could have added flavor like lemonade packets to it. The results of the test immediately indicated that I had ulcerative colitis, like the gastroenterologist suspected. I was put on steroids and medication that I’d have to take the rest of my life (not the steroids, luckily). For the most part, I live a normal life, but a few times, I’ve had flare ups causing me to go back on steroids to clear it up. The last one was about 1.5 years ago when I got a cold, couldn’t work for a few weeks which caused me a lot of stress (I’m self-employed, so when I don’t work, I don’t get paid) which turned into a flare up. Since then, I’ve been OK. However, on a number of days, my stomach is in knots and there is not much I can do about it. Up until this past January, I basically did nothing or very little on the days when I couldn’t stand it.
This past January, I decided to run the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon which put me on a training schedule running 4 days a week; I knew that if I didn’t run, I wasn’t going to be ready for the marathon. Part of the reason I wanted to run the marathon was to prove to myself that ulcerative colitis wasn’t going to rule my life. During the marathon, at about mile 20, my stomach acting up, so it was mind over stomach to finish the marathon, which I did without incident. This morning, when I went to run, my stomach was a little queasy, but I had to run. I was OK until about mile 10 when I had to walk a bit as my stomach was acting up. I made it through the run, like always, without a problem.
Some days it is harder than others, but I take it one day at a time and do my best to cope. Reducing stress is one of my main goals as I can see a direct correlation between flare ups (not sure about normal queasiness) and stress. Next Sunday, my family is joining me at the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation’s Guts & Glory Run to raise money and support research towards a cure of this disease. While my disease is mild compared to others, it sometimes makes it difficult to get through the day; I do the best that I can.