Dear Ulcerative Colitis,
First I would like you to know that every day living with you is an uphill battle. You make me feel like Sisyphus who has to constantly roll a boulder uphill only to watch it roll back down every day. I am aware that there is no cure for this at the moment, and I’m just going to have to live with that fact.
There is a lot I’ve learned about life since being diagnosed with you 10 years ago. At first, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. My body felt as if it wasn’t my own, like it was fighting me. I just thought foods weren’t settling properly or that I ate something bad, but once I started losing weight, wasn’t able to keep any food down, and couldn’t stay off the toilet, I knew that there was something bigger that was happening to me.
When I went to the doctor and had numerous tests done, and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, I felt as if the world had stopped. Before Ulcerative Colitis was just a word to me, it was something that affected others, but not me. I did tons of research, trying different diets such as keto, gluten-free, eliminating sugar, grains, and processed foods, but only some of that helped me. I realize that everyone is different, but it was still frustrating that most of these eating habits didn’t fully help.
Now I’m doing a whole food/plant-based diet while eliminating carbs, and so far this has been helping. It’s not full-proof, but I have found you to be more manageable while on this diet. When this doesn’t work, I have ready-to-drink meals that are easily accessible and won’t cause flares.
Each day with you before this diet was like playing Russian roulette with food. Will eating this cause me to flare up or will I be OK? Tracking what I eat helped me figure out my triggers, but I get new ones all the time. Even though I eat mostly plants, some cause me to be in pain while others don’t. Tomatoes make me feel as if I’m about to die, but carrots are fine.
Another thing I learned is that I need to have a strong support system. People in my life have left before because they don’t know how to handle when I’m in pain, or why I don’t feel like going out because I can’t be far from a toilet. Honesty really is the best policy, and back before I met my loving husband, dating was brutal. You didn’t want to come out and say “I have Ulcerative Colitis” on the first date, but you also didn’t want to hold off telling them you were sick for too long. It was all a balancing act. The right people who love you no matter what will stay. They won’t leave when the going gets tough.
In conclusion, while you may be quite literally the biggest pain in my life, I have met some wonderful people in online support and community groups. We all suffer from UC, but one thing that will always stand, is that we will fight you every day, and we will always welcome and support others who have to fight you as well. You may not be a lifelong companion that I wished for growing up, but without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today!
Your eternal sparring partner