Life was pretty normal for me until I was 13, then out of nowhere I started feeling poorly with pains in my stomach and needing to go to the loo – I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and as the song say’s ‘no one told me life was gonna be this way’.
All of a sudden I was going to the loo up to 15 times a day, feeling constantly sick, really tired with horrible pain in my stomach. I was put on a cocktail of drugs which I pretty much stayed on for two years.I hated steroids, I had a moon face, was constantly in the fridge looking for food, put on loads of weight and had terrible mood swings.
For the next two years Ulcerative Colitis seemed to take a hold of my life. I tried my best to go to school; to keep up with my school work and my friends. At times things seemed impossible.
Mum or Dad would often drop me to school for a few hours and then have to pick me up, my friends were good but soon forgot to invite me for shopping trips, sleepovers and parties.
I tried not to look on social media as it was awful seeing all my friends having a good time without me, I tried to understand, Mum said they weren’t being nasty just a bit thoughtless but it still hurt.
When I was 15, I had a colonoscopy and my consultant decided I needed urgent surgery to remove my large bowel – my colon. I had 3 big operations in a year and had a stoma before my J-pouch was ready to work. I called my stoma ‘Stella’ which helped me cope, as I found it really difficult at first, Mum was great and changed the bags for me until I got used to it. I had my stoma for nearly a year.
I missed most of year 10 at school and all together spent nearly 6 weeks in hospital, it was difficult as my friends just didn’t understand and I found it really hard to explain. I struggled to keep up with school work for my GCSE’s.
Just before my 16th birthday I had the operation to take away the stoma and for the J-Pouch to start working.
Life very slowly started to get better, I had more energy, felt better in myself and was not on medication for the first time in 3 years.
The following year, I managed to get a part-time job, go on holiday with my friend and sisters, go to a music festival and start enjoying life like any other ‘normal’ teenager.
My family have been brilliant and as I’ve got older I’ve started to realise that having Colitis didn’t just affect me but the whole family. When I had my first operation, I said to Mum “we are in this together” and I still feel like that today. Even though I now see the adult team at the hospital Mum still comes with me and I like her to do the talking.
I have two older sisters who look out for me and worry if I’m not well or having an off day, sometimes it’s a bit of a pain but mostly it’s nice. Jess my oldest sister recently got married and Rachel & I were bridesmaids.
Dad sometimes finds it all a bit much but that maybe because he has four women to deal with and nothing to do with the UC.
I said to my boyfriend recently that I wished I’d never had Ulcerative Colitis and he said ‘but it makes you the person you are today’. I guess he’s right, it has been a journey with lots of ups and downs but I think it has made me a better person and made me determined to live my life and be the best person I can be.
Thank you for reading my story!
Eliza, age 19