A teacher looks at the viewer in a classroom as she feels a flare in her stomach

Classroom Colitis Setback

Looking into the face of the commode, the evidence was displaying its ugly self. The mean-eyed gurgle, ping, and growl of my colon monster had sent me sprinting to the bathroom only to bear witness to this truth: A flare was back.

The painful, bloody diarrhea was proof positive that I was heading in a direction I didn’t like, nor one I wanted.

But no wonder.

Going back to school in person

August had arrived and in the midst of a pandemic, I knew I needed to return to the classroom. After being sent home last March, the pains and sufferings of living with ulcerative colitis had quieted. I had been safely stowed in the safe confines of my home for five months.

This body of mine was at peace knowing the bathroom was available at any time. And always just a few steps away from whatever I was busy doing.

My colitis monster lay in hibernation, and I was content.

Thanks for the flare up, UC

Facing the return into the germy confines of a high school classroom, I wasn’t sure my body was ready for the upcoming reality. What confronted me on one particular bathroom run communicated that I wasn’t. The message, “I’m still here” delivered itself as I sadly flushed away the evidence.

Per my usual flare-up routine, I waited a few weeks to see if my body would settle down. “Maybe when I get back into the school routine, my body will adjust,” I inwardly mused as the school year began.

But no.

Admitting I'm in a flare

No amount of reasoning will settle an inflamed colon. It rears its raucous reality in the only way it knows how: painfully. So, off to the gastroenterologist I went.

“I’m experiencing a flare,” I admitted to my doctor. “As much as I despise medication, I know I need something to get it under control.”

It was true. After 30 years of being on and off every conceivable UC medication, I was worn out dealing with side effects. I had vowed a few years ago to take every step necessary to avoid this medicinal path.

And admitting I need meds

And yet, here I was asking to return to the land of “write me a prescription, please.”

Like countless others, I faced the daily stresses and anxieties of the current pandemic. Plus, with teaching students in person, I knew I no longer had the luxury to run to the restroom every time my colon rebelled.

As the tears slowly trailed down my face, I explained my symptoms. I felt like I was surrendering to my enemy... again. My emotional state had been pushed to its maximum, and my colon was keeping score.

The reality is for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or any medical condition, I would turn to a physician for remedy. The same goes for our colons. We must take whatever steps necessitate healing.

Flare, heal, recover

After a short stint on prednisone, my body calmed – quieted its agitated self. As much as I dislike medication, it's there to help IBD sufferers.

Bloody diarrhea (or worse symptoms) is a body’s way of signaling something is wrong and needs to be addressed. For now, the pangs of my colon monster have retreated.

On the days it slumbers, I rejoice and say prayers of “thanks.” Through experience, I have learned to celebrate the quiet days with a grateful heart.

Because the body keeps score of gratitude, too.

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