A shocked man is covering his mouth while his cheeks are turning green and his forehead is flushed.

Ulcerative Colitis and Rectal Bleeding

The sight of blood makes me queasy. I’ve never had a strong stomach for it. Not even fake gore in horror films or television shows. And if it’s my own blood, help better be on the way.

But for people living with ulcerative colitis, this disease forces one to live with the uncomfortable.

Why do we get blood in stool with UC?

For anyone not familiar with UC, rectal bleeding can occur. Why? Because small ulcerations in the lining of the large intestine lead to blood in stools.

During a flare, people may have different levels of rectal bleeding. Some may bleed just a little, and others may experience a great deal of bleeding.

My worst case of rectal bleeding

One of my worst incidents occurred while I was in college back in 1992. It was my senior year. Stress weighed heavily upon me, and my fiancé had dumped me. Rejection combined with the final semester of my undergraduate program was too much.

My colitis reared its ugly self to signal that I was emotionally spent. But I didn’t have time to take care of my body nor my emotional state. I had to keep pushing.

So, my UC flare worsened. The gut pain increased. Diarrhea became a constant companion along with rectal bleeding. Still, I tried to ignore all the physical signs.

That is until I no longer could.

Cheesy bread does not go well with UC

One evening after I arrived home from my part-time job as a sales associate, I wanted something to eat other than the bag of rice or few cans of soup I had in my cupboard. At this time, I definitely lived the life of a "poor college student." Most of the money I made went towards school or gas for my car. I had no luxuries in the tiny garage apartment in which I lived.

As I looked at the 5 dollars in my wallet, I wondered what I could get to eat. Around the corner from where I lived was a Little Caesar's Pizza carry-out. I knew I could buy some "Crazy Bread" for less than five dollars.

This decision turned painfully disastrous. After eating my small "meal" of bread dipped into sauce, my gut told me I was in trouble. Pain sent me at once to the bathroom.

Because the bleeding was so profuse, I couldn’t leave the commode. Then, I got dizzy when I looked at how much blood I’d lost. I wasn’t coming off that toilet seat for a while.

A terrible colitis flare and bleeding

Thankfully, the bathroom was so small. Directly across the commode was the sink. As the dizziness continued and the nausea climbed my throat, I leaned my head against the edge of the sink. The cool ceramic lip offered support for my head while I continued to lose blood.

I don’t recall how long I sat like that. I just remember that I stayed in that position for most of the evening. It was a terrible bout of rectal bleeding.

Looking back, I should have sought emergency medical attention. I didn’t. But I did get to my gastroenterologist a few days later and ended up on prednisone.

What I should have done...

Since then, I’ve read that anyone with rectal bleeding should seek medical treatment if you can’t keep down food or liquids, if blood clots are visible in stools, if you experience a high fever, or if you have a rapid heart rate above 100 beats per minute.

After that incident, I knew I needed to listen to my body. Rectal bleeding was a sign that I needed to seek treatment from my doctor. Ultimately, ignoring the signs will just lead to more pain.

And no amount of Crazy Bread is worth a night spent sitting on the commode. Trust me.

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