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School Daze

Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Living with a chronic condition seems to magnify both the moments of joy and of despair. They become stages of definition. Defining strength and highlighting the journey.

Undiagnosed in college despite awful symptoms

I spent all of my college experience undiagnosed and ignorant to what was taking over my body with a vengeance unlike anything had experienced before. My school career was plagued with fatigue, loss of appetite, bloody stools, rapid weight loss, hair loss, anxiety, and depression. I transitioned into college from high school and excelled. I found myself bringing home A’s and B’s, holding down an internship and making connections in Hollywood. But as I continued on, my body seemed to be fighting me in a variety of ways I didn’t understand. I pushed through, basking in the freedom of adulthood and determined to release my parents of the burden of parental guidance. So, I suffered in silence, convincing myself that I was simply stressed and on the wrong diet.

From star student to drop out because of ulcerative colitis

By the beginning of my third year, I was in daily excruciating pain. I fell asleep in most classes or overslept, missing two and three at a time. I wasn’t a party girl and I was on, what I thought, was a healthy diet. And yet, something was off. As were my grades. My last year of school only showed D’s & W’s. The star student had become the drop out. I took a job offer from HBO, thinking that maybe it was the stress of school making me sick. That a break would do me good. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case, because I went on to have a subtotal colectomy and j-pouch creation to treat my ulcerative colitis.

UC robbed me of my college degree

For 15 years, I have lived with a cloud over my head that only got darker the older my son became and the closer he gets to his college years. He has 9 more years before he enters college and I wonder how I can motivate him to do the right thing by his education when I never finished. Most people would tell me that I had a pass because of my disease. It never felt like a pass to me: it felt like robbery. A precious thing, my education, was stolen from me. Not only had ulcerative colitis robbed me of my time at school, but now as I work to raise my family, it is keeping me from the opportunities I deserve. I have the knowledge but not the “proof. I’ve always been a person who demanded evidence. My son knows to always come prepared with facts and evidence. And yet, here I am in the world trying to prove who I am and what I know, without the proof of a degree to show that I do know what I am talking about. So: I registered for college on National College Signing Day.

You can read more about the decision and process of going back to school in my article, “Back to College and Pursuing a Degree Despite UC.”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Wow, that is quite a story, Brooke! Congratulations on going back to school and finishing what you started.

    Perhaps you feel like UC robbed you and your life in several ways but it may help to look at it as what GAVE you.

    You definitely have a new perspective on life, can give your son honest feedback and guidance when he is determining his life path, and can show him (and everyone) that life is not a straight line and it may take a few detours, but eventually you get to where you wanted to be if you just put your mind to it. I think that is A LOT to have gained through having UC, and you should celebrate it!

    –Julie (Team Member)

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