3 Things I Had to Give Up After Diagnosis
In 2011, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. If I knew then what I know now, I think it would not have been as difficult for me when I realized that getting into remission wouldn’t be so simple. But the truth is, nothing can prepare you for a diagnosis with a disease for which there is no cure. When you’re diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, you can pretty much expect it to change your life forever (unless you’re one of the very, very lucky ones to only flare once).
A diagnosis turns your life upside down. I had to give up several things after diagnosis and I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one.
Things I had to give up after my UC diagnosis
I gave up my black belt
I was very physically active in Shotokan karate when my symptoms hit. I was six months away from getting my black belt. I had plans to work hard and learn my forms and participate in several tournaments (my sensei even told me I was a shoe-in for state champion). And then the diarrhea began.
I kept going to class anyway... but it was difficult. I got winded easily and the thought of having to go to the bathroom was constantly on my mind. Then, I began having bloody bowel movements. I got dizzy several times during class and had to sit down. Finally, I went to the doctor and got my diagnosis. I was prescribed steroids and sadly, that’s what eventually led to me putting a halt on my classes. My joints swelled up and I was in excruciating pain. It was awful. I was devastated.
Sadly, about four months after diagnosis, I moved to another state to be closer to my boyfriend and didn’t find a suitable replacement dojo. I hope to one day get back into it... but until then, I’m still just a brown belt with a dream.
I lost my dignity
I can remember the whole diagnosis process. It was long and strenuous. It was frightening. At one point, when handing a stool sample to a nurse, I remember saying, “I feel like I’ve lost all my dignity...” She laughed and told me it was no big deal... but I had a previous experience at a different clinic where two nurses made it clear that it was a big deal and that my stool sample was so disgusting they complained about it very loudly. I was poked and prodded in very private places (my butt!). I was stabbed with multiple needles and asked very personal questions. Eventually, those sorts of things kind of became the norm... but for a while, I definitely felt like my dignity was gone...
I gave up my healthy lifestyle and sense of self
This one is kind of obvious, but it took a while for this one to sink in for me. I was in denial for a very long time after initial diagnosis. I thought I’d just take a few pills and get back to my normal everyday living. It was a major blow when I realized it wasn’t going to be so simple as that. It took months for me to even begin feeling “ok” again… and even then, my life has never been the same. I lost myself. Ulcerative colitis changed me. It was difficult, but it was a process that I had to go through. Eventually I learned to accept my new life… but I definitely had to learn how to mourn my old one.
A few positives that came out of my diagnosis
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is hard. It’s frustrating. But if I take a look at the big picture, I can say that it isn’t necessarily all bad. Had I not been diagnosed, there are some things I would have never learned about myself or about life. Had I not been diagnosed, my relationship with my husband would not be as strong as it is today. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that I now have. I wouldn’t have met the amazing and wonderful friends I have today. I believe that whenever you have to give up something, it’s to make room for something even better. And who can really complain about that?
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