that is, ulcerative colitis….an uninvited guest, but a lifetime companion.
Right now, I may still be a little groggy from the colonoscopy I had this morning. But, while its on my mind, I’d like to tell you my story. My hope is that someone will benefit from it.
I’m warning you that this post will be full of intestinal functioning type words. If you are “sensitive” or just not interested, I will not be offended if you stop reading here.
I was 16 years old, and it took me months to ‘fess up to the problems I was having. First I told my symptoms to my best friend (I owe you Camille), and she was the one that took me to my mother and made me tell her what was going on. We went to the doctor pronto. When I told him about the blood in the toilet, he was sure that I was imagining things. For a long time he suggested that this was happening during my menstruating time, and I wasn’t noticing that detail! But finally, he ordered the tests and I was diagnosed with UC. That was 40 years ago.
So for the past 4 decades, I have been accompanied by an unwanted visitor. There had been times of pain, anemia, inflamed joints, skin lesions, etc. etc. when the disease was active. But my doctor (of 30 years) says that I am actually a “poster child” for dealing with UC. I (along with my doctor) have been successful at keeping it from running my life all this time.
This morning, I got less than good news…not terrible news…just not a great report. The disease is more active than its been for a long time. Its time to double down and remind myself (and anyone else interested) what it takes to remain healthy while living with UC. And, many of these things are just good reminders for all of us. A way to live healthfully.
1. TAKE YOUR MEDICINE. That is one thing that is a must. The prescriptions I take have saved my life. I started on azulfidine, years ago. But they have improved on it. I now take Asacol. It is a wonder drug. My doc has just increased my medications to get things under control.
2. TAKE YOUR VITAMINS. Particularly calcium and vitamin B. When the colon is distressed it does not absorb nutrients as well, and can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Calcium has been shown to promote intestinal health and keep cancer away.
3. DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Keeps intestines working smoothly and prevents the kidneys from being injured by all the medications.
4. EAT WELL. Eat real food. Eat good food. Fruits, veggies, grains. Fiber and spices are just fine. Stay away from MSG and chemical additives and processed foods. During a flare up I stay away from dairy, as I become lactose intolerant.
5. EXERCISE. Promotes regularity. Which is one thing a person with UC has problems with….during flare ups I “go” too often. But when things calm down seems the colon wants to rest and becomes sluggish. One extreme to the other.
6. CONTROL STRESS IN YOUR LIFE. UC is not caused by stress, but stress can cause flare ups. Certain kinds of stress are especially bad for me. The kinds that “eat at you” are not good, because literally, that’s what they do to your gut. Handle things, get them off your mind, do not procrastinate. I’ve had to quit jobs that were too stressful, and it was always a very difficult decision at the time. But, in retrospect, I’ve never regretted doing so. I can look back and say that I made the right decisions.
7. RELAX, HAVE FUN. This is probably the best stress control measure one could take. Find something that you love doing, enjoy your family, develop friendships with good people that have common interests, and know the rejuvenating power of art, music, and reading.
8. DO NOT OVERCOMMIT YOURSELF. Even committing to too much fun can cause my gut to start churning and the UC to flare.
9. PRAY. I depend on my relationship with God. I hand over to Him everything that I cannot handle, my worries. My life, actions, thoughts have been guided and blessed by Him.
10. BE THANKFUL. There are so many other diseases that cannot be controlled. UC is controllable, you can live with it for a very long time. See your doctor regularly, do what is required. Get that colonoscopy as often as they say you need it.
There you are, in a nutshell, this is how I deal with and control ulcerative colitis. Hope you found something helpful here.