• Josh is 12 years old, lives in Leeds and has recently been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC).

    Josh Chambers photo

    In January 2015 I began to experience the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis. To start with I thought I just had a bad case of diarrhea but when the symptoms worsened I began to realise that something wasn’t quite right. I was very worried and tried to hide the symptoms from everybody (even my parents). I stopped eating and I started to get pains in my stomach and lose weight but believed this to be from my lack of food. My symptoms worsened by the day, to the point where getting to the toilet on time was practically impossible. Accidents became a common occurrence and I was embarrassed to admit it. Unaware to me my parents had begun to notice something was up. It’s surprising how well a mother knows! We sat down and had a chat about what was going on and I explained everything.

    This was to be the first, of many, visit to the doctors. We were sent home and told to return three weeks later if no better but the symptoms worsened yet further and caused me to stop doing the things I love most. I’m a very active person and love to play football and cricket for my local teams. I also love playing out with my friends and walking my two dogs Archie and Dora but I had to stop due to the lack of energy and needing to go to the toilet all the time. I felt as though somebody had snatched this pleasure from me. By this time I was going to the toilet up to ten times a day. Three weeks had passed by now and we returned to the doctors hoping for some answers. I was advised to try a dairy free diet and was sent home with a sense of hope. Unfortunately this didn’t work so I also tried a wheat free and gluten free diet but to no success.

    After many months I had my bloods taken and got an appointment at the hospital. I was really worried and anxious. After many different tests such as ultrasounds, blood tests and a camera in some very awkward places the results were in. I had been diagnosed with UC. I was placed on steroids, mesalazine and anti-acid tables. I was taking up to 12 tablets a day! On the plus side the steroids have worked wonders for my asthma. We slowly reduced the tablets but the symptoms came back. At first I didn’t know what to do or even how to say my condition but after a while I became used to this.

    In between everything that was going on I started my first year at high school (let’s say it’s a lot better now that I know where the toilets are)! The school have been brilliant and allow me to go to the toilet when needed. My friends know about my condition as I have been very open about it and I believe that this is the right thing to do. It makes playing out and sleep overs a lot easier as I take my tablets with me. They have been very supportive and don’t see me as any different to anyone else. UC will always be a part of my life but I’m not going to let it get me down anymore. My condition isn’t fully under control yet but I’m not going to worry because there are many more treatments available and I have a brilliant UC nurse and doctor who I know will always support me. I’m still on mesalazine and steroids but I am starting to reduce the amount again. Fingers crossed I will be able to stop taking steroids altogether. I started playing my favourite sports again and my energy and appetite is back. Recently we went camping for the first time in a long while and the worry of rushing to the toilet just wasn’t there. Without my medication going camping would be impossible but with the treatments I receive we had a fantastic time. Recently I have been invited to go to Greece for a school trip to play football. This is the most excited I’ve been since I was diagnosed. Without my medication I would be unable to go so this will be the first thing I’ll pack!

    Thanks for reading my story, Josh.

    Josh Chambers photo 2