With the 1st-7th December being Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week 2016 I thought it was about time I shared my Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) journey. It’s not for the faint hearted, but I think awareness of IBD needs to be improved.
What is IBD?
IBD can either be Crohns or Colitis, each relates to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohns can affect any part of the digestive system, whereas Colitis is isolated to the large intestine (colon).
What are the symptoms?
Everyone assumes the symptoms just relate to spending a ridiculous amount of time on the loo. While this is true, there are many other symptoms that come with it.
This can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Mouth ulcers
- Joint pain
The above are some of the effects I have suffered, sadly I do not get the weight loss side effect. I blow up like a balloon and gain a hunchback of Notre Dame hump thanks to the corticosteroids.
I was diagnosed with Colitis in May 2016. But my symptoms started much earlier, and gradually began to get worse. After weeks of diarrhea , vomiting, fatigue whilst trying to hold down a full time job I managed to make it to the doctors.
It hadn’t occurred to me that running out of a spin class to use the loo wasn’t normal until this point.
After three visits to the doctors, several types of medication and no improvement, I went back again feeling really awful. I had phoned in sick to work as I was doubled over in pain with severe cramps, unable to eat for two days and the most severe diarrhea I have ever encountered.
The doctor sent me to the hospital and I was immediately admitted as an inpatient. Several drips later, blood tests, x-rays and my first endoscopy (that’s a whole other story) I was finally told it was IBD.
Trying to recover
After 3 nights in hospital I had really had enough, and as my medication wasn’t going to be in for another day or two they allowed me to leave. I have never been so tired and emotionally drained. I left the hospital with little information on the condition, I spent the next few weeks trying to recover and learn as much as I could.
The next steps
Trying to digest how to manage the condition (pun intended), has been very difficult for me. Trying to understand I won’t be completely cured is almost impossible for me to wrap my head around. I have tried an array of medications from steroids to enemas yuck! Passion killer or what?! But food seems to be the one thing that helps get it under control.
I find certain foods can really aggravate my symptoms. I can no longer drink huge amounts of milk due to the lactose. Luckily I have found Arla Lactose Free that tastes so much better than soya milk. But no Baileys hot chocolates for me this Christmas. High fibre foods such as broccoli are also a no. Foods fried in vegetable oil are now also off limits if in large amounts.
Trying to be consistent
Unfortunately I’d be lying if I said I was able to stick to the above diet. I do from time to time think ‘I’ve been well for weeks, one hot chocolate won’t hurt?’ I’d be wrong! Trying to manage any condition takes time, trials and errors and a huge amount of patience.
Support is key
Letting your friends and family know how you’re doing, and how to help you manage is vital. I can get particularly anxious about travelling, but my boyfriend is amazing at calming me down. He has been my rock throughout this stressful and rather embarrassing ordeal.
Crohns and Colitis UK have been a huge support for me, with their vast online material to help educate, to the can’t wait card. So if you feel like this is something you’d like to be involved in text PURP22 £3 to 70070 to donate.