(Warning: If you hate discussions on bodily issues, this is probably not the post for you.)
I finally have it, a diagnosis. 2 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with the affliction of the last 10 years of my life. I have been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. On the one hand, it feels nice to have a name for my health problem, on the other hand, it’s scary as shit (pun intended) to have a search result that comes back on Google with a lot of horror stories.
Here’s what I know:
- Ulcerative Colitis is similar to Chron’s disease, the disease my dad has, but less serious because it only affects the colon, and not the whole intestine.
- It does not have a cure, but it can be treated with diet and medication.
- Ulcerative Colitis is not IBS. I thought it was, it’s not. IBS is a condition, UC is an autoimmune disease, basically my body is attacking itself because it thinks it is infectious.
- Ulcerative Colitis requires me to have a colonoscopy every 2-3 years for the rest of my life (I guess this is because colon cancer rates are much higher in people with intestinal diseases). Hearing this is like discovering your archenemies; colonoscopies are the villain to my hero life, we’ll battle every 2-3 years, in an epic battle of emptying my bowels and going under for a super annoying, scary exam.
- UC can make your weight continuously fluctuate, because your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs during flare ups. This explains so much about my scale bouncing back and forth between dangerously thin (when everyone told me I looked anorexic) to a fuller size (when my butt won’t fit into my jeans), in the last five years. Just this month, I’ve been up and down 8 lbs. in the last two weeks.
- During flare ups, my body basically feels like this:
This diagnosis explains so much about my last 10 years. When I was a teenager (B.U.C. I’ll call it), I lived for adventures and socializing with close friends. Now, I suffer from agoraphobia and social anxiety, leaving the house scares me because of possible flare ups. I’ve become a hermit riddled with depression and anxiety who needs to be tethered to a toilet, it’s not been ideal. It’s interesting to consider how our brains and bellies have this deep connection with our emotions, in fact it’s medically proven that people with intestinal diseases have much higher rates of depression and anxiety. (There’s many online theories that Kurt Cobain’s depression was linked with his intestinal disorder).
Overall, I’m glad to have the diagnosis. I now I have less question marks, I have medication to help treat the illness, and more importantly I have no more thoughts that an alien has rented a space in between my guts.
Interested in more things about the alimentary canal? Here’s some of the best things I’ve read or found on guts:
• Gulp by Mary Roach. Probably my favorite author, she writes about all things disgusting and fascinating and her book on the digestive tract was so gross and good, I couldn’t put it down.
• This essay on the term “Bowels of Mercy”, featuring this quote: “The perception of the sublime sometimes rests on sublimation. The loveliest moments in music often stem from dissonance just as the sweetest perfumes often have civet as their basic ingredient. A musky scent at the foundation of things may be a condition of the worlds glory and beauty. ‘There is no excellent beauty,’ said Francis Bacon, ‘that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.'”
• “I’ve been thinking with my guts since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.” -from High Fidelity (one of my all time favorite novels) by Nick Hornby
• Devo Gut Feeling my go to gut music.