Finding Strength and Hope Through the Ulcerative Colitis Pain
Hi everybody, I hope my story encourages y'all. I know writing and talking about things helps me to process, so that's one of the reasons why I'm sharing my story.
My name is Beth. According to two different GI doctors, I have had UC for at least two years now, but I only got diagnosed early this year. Originally, there were no stomach symptoms, just a skin rash, a fever, joint pain, and some weird allergies (allergic to Benadryl, anyone?). We went through about three different "diagnoses" before the doctor decided I had gotten a rare disease from my cow. This was very frustrating as many of y'all can attest.
Nothing I tried helped
For so long my prayer was to get through it and have it over and done with. It seemed like nothing I tried helped. Or, if I found something that helped, it only helped for a short period and then I was itching and in pain again. When the doctor said I had Brucellosis, there was some relief. The relief came from knowing what it was (even if it was a misdiagnosis at the time. We will never really know for sure). Eventually, I got tired of trying to sprint through it and started settling in for the long haul. It was not long after that when the blood test came back negative for Brucellosis.
You know when you think you have gotten over something and that it doesn't bother you anymore, but then it comes up again and you just break down in tears? That was me when the test came back negative.
Ok, so that was last summer. I thought it was all gone and that I could return to some sort of "normal" life. Now my doctors say that it was the early symptoms of UC and not Brucellosis at all. The gut symptoms started in late January. At first, I didn't think it was anything. I had seen blood before... it couldn't be that serious, right? Steadily the bleeding got worse and I finally told my Mom and went and saw the nurse practitioner at my primary doctor's office who took a blood sample and said to come back in two weeks. Over the next two weeks, the abdominal pain got to be so bad that I did not move unless I absolutely had to. Finally, my sister took me to the ER. It was a long night. They ran some tests, decided I wasn't dying, and sent me home. Later that week I had a colonoscopy and the doctor figured out that it was UC. She put me on Prednisone and an anti-inflammatory drug.
Finding strength through the pain
It took a few weeks for the drugs to settle everything down, and then another month or so before my body had adjusted to being on the drugs. There were days when the steroid would leave me so shaky and weak. It seemed like there was nothing I could do to stop the shaking. It was then when I finally started to understand the verse in Romans where God says His grace is sufficient for us, and that His strength is made perfect through weakness. I never knew how His grace truly carries us and strengthens us until I literally couldn't stand on my own. You know how the first time around I said my prayer was, "just get me through this and have this over with"? Well, about two or so months into the pain, fatigue, and weakness, I realized that God was bringing me through and that I was talking to Him more, trusting Him more, and learning more during this time than when I was healthy. At that point, my prayer changed to "You know, if You want to keep me here for a while, that's ok." (not that He needs my permission or anything.)
Embracing my new normal
Soon after that(another month or so), I was definitely in clinical remission and gaining strength again, and that is where I am now. Trying to settle into a diet that encourages a happy gut and figuring out what is normal now. In the middle of everything, when I thought I would be shaky and weak for the rest of my life, I found this website and the stories here have really encouraged me. So, I hope this story encourages someone out there. :) Thank you everyone for your stories, tips, and encouragement!
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?