A long story made short

My name is Colin. I have no colon.

It’s kind of a long story.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis in my early 20s, I underwent a battery of drugs and testing and I ultimately was forced to have my colon completely removed from my body and replaced with an internal pouch made from a portion of my small intestine.

OK, well … maybe it’s not that long of a story.

I first noticed something was wrong during my senior year of college when I started becoming really good friends with my toilet. If a healthy person has one bowel movement a day, I was averaging eight to nine trips. It felt like I couldn’t keep anything in my system for more than 10 or 20 minutes.

I felt like an unkinked hose; one side took in the food and the other end released it without anything in the middle to slow the process down.

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The symptoms faded almost as soon as they came as my life started to return to normal after a few weeks. Looking back, I suppose that was a warning shot of sorts because my troubles came back in a big way just months after graduation.

March 11, 2008 - the day before my 23rd birthday.

That’s probably the most important day of my life.

A few months into my first “real” job as a reporter for a daily newspaper, I started dealing with the same issues: frequent trips to the bathroom and a sped-up digestive cycle. This time, however, I noticed that I was starting to lose weight and I had started to become more lethargic during the middle of the day.

I’ll never forget what it meant to finally find out what the heck was wrong with me. After seeing my family doctor, I was referred to a gastroenterologist who gave me my first colonoscopy. When I finally came to from the anesthesia, my doctor presented me with a stack of photos taken of my colon and it was then that I saw all the cuts and bleeding that had overtaken it.

“You have what is called ulcerative colitis, Colin,” the doctor said, rather calmly.

“OK, what’s that mean?,” I said, rather dumbfounded.

I have what?...

When you’re in your 20s, you probably don’t know where you’ll be in 10 years, you probably don’t know what you’ll be doing in 10 years and - maybe most importantly - you probably don’t know who you’ll be sharing your life with in 10 years. What we want out of our lives isn’t what a middle-aged person wants and life with UC can send you down a road of questioning everything.

The moment my gastro doc told me that I had ulcerative colitis was the first time I’d ever heard of UC. I was clueless, so I went to Google – and that’s when I made my first mistake. I absorbed everything I could about the worst-case scenarios for UC, focusing my attention on excruciating details about what this disease can take from you.

Don’t get me wrong; UC does take a lot from you - I won’t lie and tell you that you won’t have days where your body can’t do what your mind and spirit want, but I can share some advice that I wish I had when I was learning about UC. Most people who are successfully living with this disease are too busy doing just that – living – to mislead, frighten or demand your sympathy.

What people need to understand about UC is that it isn’t a death sentence. There are times where you won’t be sure that you have the energy or even the desire to keep going on, but if you take an aggressive approach to your treatment and explore all your options, you can still live the life that you want.

UC has taken a lot from me, but it’s also made me a stronger person. Negativity is an easy trap to fall to, but this disease has made me appreciate that everyone is living with something and it’s your choice in how you deal with your situation.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net 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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