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Boy does life change! How Denial Can Be a Dangerous Thing

I recall carefree youthful days, full of athletic vim and vigor. Never a medical care in the world, I was a very “healthy specimen.” So, at the age of 31, when I experienced my first episode of bleeding, it was met with much denial. “I will bounce back, no problem,” I thought. The toilet bowl had lots of bright red blood but, “This isn’t serious. Serious stuff doesn’t happen to me.”

Even with the subsequent diagnosis of UC, I still thought, “I’ll be the exception. My case will be mild.” I didn’t see myself as vulnerable, the denial was so strong, and I didn’t see the need to be overly careful with my treatment regimen. I took my prescribed medication loosely, sometimes not at all. I had intermittent flares which I thought weren’t any big deal. Then, I took the medicine then and it resolved, but I never thought of the long-term consequences of doing this.

I believe that allowing the inflammation to simmer on low, in retrospect, was extremely dangerous for my health. Eight years later, I was diagnosed with a second, inflammation-driven, auto-immune disease. I believe that, had I been more vigilant about my self-care, I might have avoided this fate.

Fast forward fifteen years

My combined diagnoses of UC and MS have wreaked havoc on my life. Never would I have imagined that this could happen to me. I am now disabled, I had to give up a career that I loved and was successful with. The loss of income and dependency on Social Security is not what I imagined my life would at 53 years of age. I was fitted for a wheelchair last month. Boy does life change!

My MS-caused limited mobility and scissored gait make UC flares challenging in ways that you can’t imagine (and would be impolite to describe). Any UC flare, or other illness that my body experiences, will directly trigger a worsening of my MS. They call this a “pseudo-relapse” because once the triggering illness resolves, the MS quiets down again.

This is probably the most important “story” I could relay related to my IBD. My message is that everyone should take their health seriously, even if they have never before been ill. Respect your body. You can open Pandora’s box if you don’t take all the steps necessary that your physician prescribes are necessary to control each illness you have. Safeguard your future.

Don’t take your health for granted

Inflammatory bowel disease is one of many diseases the body can experience when inflammation is not held in check. I wish I knew this fact years ago. If I had, I would have taken my UC medicine exactly as prescribed, every day, even when it appeared to me that I didn’t need it. That, I believe, would have changed the course of my health, and my life, dramatically. So, if you are newly diagnosed, take heed. If you are not-so new to the UC life, and you are nonchalant about your meds, please learn from my mistake and reconsider your approach to self-care. Best wishes for good health!

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.