stop light in front of a bed

Red Light, Green Light

Do you remember that childhood game red light, green light? You know, that game where you had to race across a field when the gamemaster would yell out “green light.” The challenge was that players had to freeze when the gamemaster would exclaim “red light.” If the gamemaster spotted a player moving on a red light, they were sent back to the start. The goal was to make across the field and tag the gamemaster to take their place before any of the other players.

A constant state of uncertainty

For me, living with Ulcerative Colitis feels like I’m constantly stuck in the middle of an endless round of red light, green light. It’s difficult because it means living in a constant state of uncertainty. As a result, when it’s my turn to make a move in the game of life, I never know whether to move up or down the board. By that, I mean that it’s difficult for me to find direction in my daily routine. Will I be able to be productive and finish those projects I’ve been putting off? Will I be stuck in bed all day? Like a board game, Ulcerative Colitis has filled my life with extremes. Most days either feel like I’ve won or lost completely. Unlike Monopoly or Candyland, I can’t come 2nd or 3rd place.

I never know if bad health is coming on

Don’t get me wrong. I know that everyone deals with procrastination. Everyone deals with distractions, and a lack of motivation. Still, it’s different when you live with a disease like Ulcerative Colitis. Some days, I’ll wake up and feel like I’ve got the green light. I’ll feel rested, focused, and comfortable. Better yet, maybe I’ll have been in the middle of a long period of remission. Pain, bleeding, and weakness could be the furthest things for my mind. Still, I’ll never know if the period of health I’m enjoying is permanent.

My health varies on a day to day basis

Even over the course of a single day, my health can be as variable as the world’s wildest EKG. On top of that, fatigue can knock me out cold and instantly I’ll lose all of my energy. It’s incredibly frustrating to build up so much progress, only to have it washed away in a fraction of a second. It’s like climbing up a mountain, only to have an avalanche come crashing down to bury me alive.

The harsh reality behind ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease is that the rules to the game of life change. Over time, I’ve learned that I am no longer entirely in control. I am not the gamemaster, but rather, merely a player. As a result, I’m forced to live between the red lights and the green lights. I have to freeze when my body won’t allow me to go further and I have to savor the green lights when I’m at my full potential.

Living in the middle of chaos with IBD

Surprisingly, I have gained a few things from living in the middle of chaos. For once, I’m much more adaptable. I’m no longer fixed to one course in my routine, instead, I have backup plans on top of backup plans. Most importantly, I’ve learned to savor the small movements. Success and progress are important to me, but I understand that I have to take care of myself as well. Besides, if my life has to be like a game, I might as well have fun playing it.

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

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