How Did This All Start?

In the Fall of 2005, I had it made. I was at Shippensburg University, enjoying the time away from home. I was doing great in school, and managing my time well. I remember the night that changed my life forever. I was out at the bar with my buddies. We were all having a good time, and I know that I got pretty drunk. I remember going home to go to bed. Before bed, I used the bathroom. When I finished I remember seeing blood in the toilet. I figured it was just the beer mixed with the food I ate; maybe something didn’t sit well. I didn’t pay much attention to it.

By Monday morning, I was hovered over in pain. My stomach hurt so badly. I also was running to the bathroom, with tons of blood coming out of me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. By that Tuesday, I had checked myself into Gettysburg Hospital. They ran a few tests, took some samples and sent me home on an antibiotic. The doctors said that it was an infection that will clear up in a couple of days. I took his word for it and went home.

Each day I was getting sicker and sicker. I was always in the bathroom, and lacking an appetite. As a result I had no energy, was pale and couldn’t get out of bed. My parents came to Shippensburg to take me home. They had an appointment with a gastroenterologist in the morning through Abington Hospital. When I arrived at the office, they immediately sent me to the hospital for dehydration. I had to replenish myself with IV fluids. Once stable, they ran tests on me and conducted a sigmoidoscopy. This procedure was done while awake, where they went inside me with a camera to get a look at my rectum. He saw that it was very ulcerated, and declared that I had Ulcerative Colitis.

I had never heard of it before. So what do I do? Is there medicine I can take? Is my life over with? These were the questions that were running through my head. My doctor assured me that a few weeks of prescription anti- inflammatory medication and other bowel meds would calm the U.C. flare. He explained that Ulcerative Colitis was different than Crohn’s because UC only affected the large bowel, not the small. He reminded me that they would not know for sure if I had Crohn’s until they did a complete colonoscopy. They had scheduled me for a morning procedure in a few weeks. The colonoscopy sounded like a crazy procedure. I never heard of such a thing. I couldn’t fathom the fact that I would have to drink basically “thick Gatorade” until I puked. If I got passed that part, this powdery substance would make use the bathroom like I never used it before! Then I have to not eat for hours so they can put me asleep and stick a camera up my rear to see what’s going on inside. And I thought the flexible sigmoidoscopy was bad!

The doctors at Abington let me go home on Sunday, giving me enough time to go back to school. I had started on a very high dose of Prednisone, and another medication that regulated moderate U.C. called Asacol.

I was feeling confident that this will soon resolve and that I would continue on with my life. I did reading that Sunday night and saw that Ulcerative Colitis could be put into remission if it is treated correctly, and a stricter, blander diet was put into place. I set my mind to it that I take the medications and change my diet. I had no idea that the next few years would be hardest in my entire life. I had no idea that I was going down a road that almost lead me to my death.

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