Today is World IBD Day. In other words it is is World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day. A day to try and raise awareness of the prevelance of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Also an opportunity for people living with these diseases to talk openly about life with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. And even more importantly it is a chance for family members and friends of those with these diseases to talk about how they are impacted by having a loved one dealing with these diseases.
Every single of one of you knows someone who has Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (yes – me). But I’m guessing you know someone else who has one of these diseases. The incidences of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are on the rise in the developed world. One statistic says that 1 in 160 Canadians has ulcerative colitis.
There is no known cause for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. There is no known cure for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. Some people are on drugs for the rest of their lives. Some people have their colon removed. Some people have their intenstines re-sectioned. Most people suffer from flares, the uncertainty of remission and the side effects from the medication. Some people have used a diet such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to put an end to their flares and symptoms. Some people try a vegan diet. Some people remove gluten and dairy from their diet.
Two years ago I would never have believed that I’d be writing about World IBD Day or ulcerative colitis. But I am. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis two years ago. This was a massive shock to my system. After all, I live a very active and healthy lifestyle: very healthy diet, very active, don’t drink or smoke, etc. But still, I ended up with ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are auto-immune diseases – in other words – our bodies are attacking themselves. For some reason my body chose to attack my colon.
Life has had its many ups and downs in these past two years. There have been days when I really couldn’t get out of bed because I was so sick. There were days when I’ve felt so healthy and strong that I didn’t believe I was sick.
And today? Well today I am in a remission – thanks to some very powerful drugs (Imuran and Asacol). My body is in a remission but somedays my brain feels like it is still in a flare. It is challenging psychologically to deal with the uncertainty, impacts, and fear of having a disease like ulcerative colitis. I’m also extremely aware of how hard this disease is on Marc. Every pain, loss of hair, chill, dash to the bathroom, and moment of uncertainty is felt by Marc. Sometimes I think the psychological impacts of this disease are worse than the physical.
I’ve tried to tell myself that I’m a healthy person. But this isn’t quite right. I’m a healthy sick person. I’m getting the most out of my body and life, while dealing with ulcerative coltis. Just like any other person – I’m getting the most out of life.
So today, on World IBD Day, take the time for an attitude of grattitude. Appreciate your healthy body and the gifts you have in life. Maybe you are dealing with somehting as well – well just make today the best day you can. This is all any of us can do.
Ulcerative colitis does not define me. It is part of me – but it is not me.
I agree with you on the psychological impacts of this disease on loved ones. When I retreat like a wounded animal from the world during a flare, I know I’m hurting those close to me, but it’s my survival mechanism. I have to do better advocating for myself and admitting that I need help. I have to say that I will take the pain (and be oh so grateful for it) of an intense interval workout over being in a flare any day! So glad to be on my bike and training again for my next race (and eating more food than I thought was humanly possible) in June!!! -Kim
Congrats on getting back out on the bike and training for your next mountain bike race. It really is a great feeling to have your body working with you rather than against you. I’m with you on eating mass quantities of food – amazing how much I want to eat when I’m in a remission. I’m with you – I take the pain of intervals and the appreciation of being able to do them over a flare any day! Best of luck in your racing season. Thanks for the inspiration.