3 Super Powers IBD Has Given Me
Life changes that came with a UC diagnosis
Like a lightning bolt, my diagnosis electrified my life and burnt away my sense of certainty. For me, the earliest stages of illness were tremendously frustrating because, in an instant, I was different. I was split into a million different shards of my former self.
There was the “patient me” who was forced to sit uncomfortably in cramped doctors' offices and gulp down handfuls of pills. There was the “studious me” who still had to fidget through hour-long lectures in packed auditoriums while praying that I wouldn’t have to rush out to the bathroom.
Of course, there was also the “public me” who I presented to my friends, family members, and the random strangers that I bumped into throughout my daily life. My illness was like a superhero's alter-ego, except that it didn’t come with a cape and shield.
Nor did it come with a prophecy, roadmap, or grisly wise old mentor. Worst of all, no symbolic scar or aesthetically pleasing tattoo was ever magically engraved onto my forehead.
Instead, I was left to figure it all out for myself. Still, I quickly realized that ulcerative colitis had imbued me with a very particular set of superpowers that made me no average citizen.
The ability to locate public bathrooms
My “Toilet-Sense” Tingles. I call my supernatural ability to find a bathroom in any supermarket, convenience store, or divey diner my “toilet-sense.” Sure, laser vision is cool, but I’d argue that the ability to scan through hundreds of square feet of retail space and lock onto the bathrooms like a heat-seeking missile is a much more useful power. The first time this power kicked in for me, I was in a grocery store with my mother.
I remember the sickly cold feeling of panic oozing through my body as pain reverberated through my abdomen. I feared that I wouldn’t make it to a bathroom in time and felt my cheeks flush hotly with preemptive embarrassment.
Then, my toilet sense took control of my body ejecting my soul into an out-of-body experience. Like an experienced airline pilot, I navigated seamlessly through the twisting and towering rows of cereals to the bathroom. I was on autopilot the entire time, and I still have no idea how I moved at such a breakneck speed. All I can say is that my toilet-sense works in mysterious ways.
The ability to adapt with UC
Guts and Glory. When you’re forced to live life in between bathroom stalls, you learn to be prepared for anything. Ulcerative colitis has heightened my adaptability to the point where I truly believe I am 50% human and 50% chameleon.
I am capable of blending into crowds when I need a moment alone, and standing out from them when I need help. Before my diagnosis, I might have been embarrassed to talk about my deathly farts. Believe me, the noxious odor that comes from them is a power in itself, capable of knocking out even the most dastardly villains.
Now, though, I’ll proudly stand in a full-body poop outfit singing my own praises to the world. No villain, demon, or arch-rival can escape my grasp when I capture them.
My powers of immense adaptability come from the fact that to live with IBD is to live despite fear. To live with IBD is to accept yourself despite your flaws and your weakness. To me, living in spite of fear or pain is real bravery and that is the ultimate superpower.
Finding positivity with a UC diagnosis
Potty Positivity. Limitless positivity is the final superpower that I have gained from my diagnosis. Let me be clear, at first, I definitely didn’t believe life with a chronic illness was all peaches and candy. I’ll be blunt.
It sucked worse than being forced to sit on a cactus in the blazing heat of the Sahara Desert. I’ll be even more real with you all, it can still suck pretty bad. Now though, I realize that my IBD isn’t a limitation.
It’s a motivation for me. I live my days happily despite an often ugly and messy disease. I strive to accomplish great things despite my disease. And, I work to make the world a better place because of my disease. IBD has given me a reason to be a superhero because I know that I am more than my disease and I want to prove it to the world.
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?