Being completely honest, the last year has been the worst of my life because of my health. You can read some other posts I’ve done on it here and here but I’ve decided I want to and am ready to speak about it properly on this platform now. Mainly for the reason that it is so deeply misunderstood by people who don’t have it. Starting with my diagnosis, I’ll be talking about my journey with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) alongside Crohns. I’m not sure where this little series will go yet and how much information I’m prepared to share about something so scarily personal but I’ll figure it out along the way.
I’ve been so inspired by Hannah Witton recently that I wanted to share my story too. Her YouTube channel is here if you wanna check it out! She suffers with the same disease and has had her bowel removed and a stoma fitted which is something I might also have to have soon. This is due to how widespread the disease is in my bowel, the severity of it and my body not yet responding to any medication. I have always been an “all or nothing” kinda gal so I guess this disease is following in those footsteps… but anyway. I hope you learn something from reading this!
February 2017 started admittedly quite stressfully. I’d just had a car accident at the end of January which was a huge trigger for my anxiety and it was coming up to a year since I dropped out of uni and I still wasn’t any closer to knowing what I wanted my next step to be. I was also really unhappy in my job so I decided to book a week off of work and have some time to myself to chill out. In this week I went to visit one of my best friends in Plymouth for a couple of days and had the absolute best time. We went for rainy and windy walks along the hoe, got hot chocolate and fish and chips and went to pub quiz night. When I came back to Bristol I got my beautiful medusa tattoo piece done and spent a few days with Jake.
On the Sunday before going back to work, I started to experience really bad abdominal pains and no food I tried to eat was agreeing with me so I just assumed I had a bit of a bug. This carried on for around a week until the Saturday after I was up all night in excruciating pain and nothing would make it go away. I was up back and forth to the toilet thinking I was going to be sick and had to have 5 days off of work because I could barely eat anything without it going straight through me or feeling like I was going to throw it back up. It settled enough for me to go back to work but I still had to be extremely careful about what I was eating, I was living on dry and bland food and my boyfriend eventually forced me to go to the doctors and get checked out.
I got told it was stress-caused IBS and advised to start meditation and basically try to chill out. I had blood tests that showed inflammation in my body but my doctor wrote it off as the common cold I was battling, little did they know. For a little while I was trying everything I could to make myself feel better, I found a new job, handed my notice in and signed up for a gym membership near to my new work. I started trying to eat a lot better too and alongside going to the gym I started to feel a lot better mentally but unfortunately my physical health issues kept getting worse. I started passing blood and was in a lot of pain every time I ate, no matter what I ate. I was also being woken up at several points throughout the night desperately needing the toilet, it was like my body was just rejecting food.
Back to the doctors for a second time, I explained all the things I’d done to combat this “IBS” and how these new symptoms had arisen. I was again just told I needed to try harder and prescribed something called “Mebeverine” to take 20 minutes before eating which would apparently relieve my pain. I came out of the appointment and burst into tears as I knew there must’ve been something more severe going on but I didn’t know what, completely unaware of IBD. Still, I continued with this new medication and admittedly it did help the pain I was experiencing but at this point, my body just seemed to give up on me. I started my new job which I was absolutely loving but by this point I was up pretty much every hour throughout the night in pain/running to the toilet/feeling really sick. I was barely eating but still taking 6-8 immodiums every day just to make it through.
I stuck it out for 3 and a half weeks in my new job getting up at 5am 5 days a week with these symptoms and dropped 18 lbs in that time. It got to a point I could barely even keep water in me and I nearly collapsed in work. I called the doctors straight away and demanded an emergency appointment and they fit me in the next day. I was a mess, my face gaunt, my eyes dark and they finally offered me a faecal calprotectin test. I got a call a few days later saying I needed to be urgently referred to a gastroenterologist as my inflammation was sky high. I was scared but relieved as something was FINALLY being done and I thought I would be feeling better soon.
Well that is the first part of my IBD story, you can find part 2 here. Be sure to pop in your email address at the bottom of my page to subscribe for email updates on new posts!
I’m also taking part in the Crohns and Colitis WALK IT event on the 12th May and am hoping to raise at least £100 for the charity which will go towards vital research and giving more people the information and help they need with this disease. You can visit my JustGiving page here. Even a £1 donation or simply a share of the page would mean the absolute world! Thank you.