I’m a writer surviving life with ulcerative colitis, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I’ve found that living in harmony with ulcerative colitis is easier than fighting it.
I’m also a blogger who wants to publish stories from people living with chronic disease. If you have a chronic illness, I’d love to hear from you! Please contact me through the comments form below.
Do you have inflammatory or irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s? Read Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet – it’ll help you figure out the best foods to eat, what to avoid, and how to manage your disease. It provides incredibly helpful information about managing digestive disorders through diet and nutrition.
And, here are my answers to my own questions about surviving life with a chronic illness (I’ve also written about living with infertility because my husband and I are childless).
Ulcerative Colitis – Tips for Living With Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Eleven years ago, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I really thought I was going to die, because years before that I knew a woman who had the worst case of colitis I had ever seen. But it turns out that there are different levels of irritable bowel disease, and I actually have a fairly light case. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say my ulcerative colitis is about a 3 or 4.
How I keep my colitis in remission
I’ve been in remission for about four months – and yippee! In 4 Ways to Stop Ulcerative Colitis From Flaring, I describe what keeps my IBD guts quiet and unflared. Sleep is the biggest thing. I can eat whatever I want, but if I get less than seven hours a night, the beast awakens.
Travel tends to make it flare, but I travel anyway.
What I wish I’d known when I was first diagnosed with IBD
I thought I was going to die from this disease – I really thought it was terminal! But in hindsight maybe that’s a good thing, because I went to Jerusalem, Israel to meet my dad and make peace with living a short life. Accepting my own death made me not scared to die, which has made me more open to taking risks and living life fully! I wrote about this in Scared to Die? The Best 5 Reasons to Accept Your Own Death.
I wish I’d known that enemas are better than suppositories for my ulcerative colitis, because I wasted a lot of years trying to beat it into remission with ineffective medication.
Tips for living with inflammatory bowel disease
Learn as much as you can about your disease – whether it’s Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, or milder forms of IBD – but remember that chronic disease affects different people in different ways. For instance, some people with IBD can’t eat popcorn or nuts, but I can eat whatever I want without worrying about the colitis flaring.
It’s important to try different things – and different mindsets – until you find what works for you. I’m not into “fighting” my disease – but lots of people who have Crohn’s Disease or colitis fight with all their might! It works for them, and that’s cool.
What works for me is living in harmony with my IBD. I think fighting is exhausting and overwhelming, but living in harmony is about peace and acceptance. This doesn’t mean I let ulcerative colitis (or infertility) overtake my life…it just means that it’s part of who I am.
Advice for friends and family members
Irritable bowel disease is really embarrassing! I remember traveling in Germany with my husband, and having to beat the door down to get into the hotel room to use the bathroom because of a more or less uncontrollable rush of bloody diarrhea. It was a tiny hotel room, and of course my husband heard all my bathroom sounds. How sexy is that, right? Ugh.
And here’s a tip from Lauren, who also lives with ulcerative colitis:
“When you live with chronic illness, you often have to cancel plans at the last minute. What was supposed to be Sunday brunch with a friend turned into 4 pmcoffee this weekend. Our New Year’s Eve plans got changed at the last minute. I’ve cancelled on friends more times than I can count in the last six years. I always feel terrible when I do this, despite my incredibly understanding loved ones. (Not to mention that sometimes I miss out on really cool things!)” ~ Lauren, on Let’s Be Honest: Lots of Things About This Disease Sucks.
If your loved one has irritable bowel syndrome, expect last minute changes in plans.
The upside of ulcerative colitis
I’m working on my Master’s of Social Work (MSW) at UBC (the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver). My career goal is to counsel people who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. If I didn’t have ulcerative colitis, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to live with a chronic disease. I want to share what I learn from my courses and practicum here.
And, my intention is for this blog to become a place where people can share their stories, and gain insight and support.
Are you living in harmony with or fighting illness? I’d love to share your story. Go to How Do You Live With Chronic Disease? Stories From Survivors.
If you have any thoughts or questions about ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel disease, please comment below.