A pile of cards that are lying on the ground.

When Your Life Comes Crashing Down

When I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I didn’t take it seriously. I thought all I had to do was take a few pills and my life would get back to normal. Weeks went by and things didn’t get better. In fact, they got worse. In addition to my diagnosis, I started getting medicinal side-effects like joint pain and moonface. Then I needed a blood transfusion right before being diagnosed with clostridium difficile. My world was spiraling out of control and there was nothing I could do about it.

Please don’t go

I had a steady boyfriend at the time. I had dated other guys before who ran at the slightest sniffle, so I was convinced Dave would leave me, too. Thankfully he stayed by my side. I can name ONE friend who stuck with me through it, too, but the rest of them didn’t get it. They got mad at me for canceling plans. I had one friend who had not one but TWO bridal showers. I was able to make one shower but had to ditch the other and she was not happy with me. But I couldn’t make her understand that I was physically unable to drive 6 hours for a weekend bash.

Unhelpful doctors

If that wasn’t bad enough, the doctor who diagnosed me didn’t know what to do with me either. I rarely heard from her and never got any of my questions answered. I had the support of my boyfriend and one friend, and that was it. Sometimes I even felt like my family had abandoned me. It was one of the most difficult times in my life.

Falling apart

Not only did I feel like my body was falling apart, my whole life was! I had to miss several days of work (and my boss, who didn’t get it either, wasn’t happy about that!). I was a student of karate–six months away from getting my black belt!–and I missed so many classes. My sensei didn’t understand and thought I was just using my illness as an excuse because “several of his friends have Crohn’s and they’re ok!” Um… everyone’s disease journey is different. I started questioning if things were really as bad as they were. The answer is, YES. Bleeding in the bathroom 15-20 times a day is NOT ok.

Is there hope?

So many patients wonder if there is hope for a life after being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. I’m here to tell you that there is! While you may not find complete healing or even remission, there is always hope! For me, I was able to achieve remission through surgery. Some do really well with medication management. My mother just avoids foods that bother her and she’s living a normal life. Then there are some of my friends. One in particular who isn’t doing very well. She’s been flaring for years and has never seen remission. Despite this, she clings to hope. She presses on and does her best to see the brighter side. I honestly don’t know how she does it.

My life now

Since diagnosis, my life changed dramatically. Being hit with an incurable disease will change you in many ways. I’ve had many days where I feel defeated. Even now, being “well” I have my moments… moments when I long for my healthy days. But, overall life is good. I married my boyfriend and we now have a beautiful daughter together. There is always hope. Sometimes you have to look really hard to find it, but it’s there.

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