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Breaking the Silence Around Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Living With Ulcerative Colitis


The following story is personal and gross. That’s why I’m sharing it. I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis right before my 29th birthday. Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the colon. UC is a chronic, inflammatory disorder with no agreed-upon cause and no known cure. It is closely related to Crohn’s disease, except Crohn’s disease affects the entire digestive system, rather than just the large intestine and rectum. People with IBD also suffer from PTSD, myself included.

Inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, is reaching epidemic levels in the United States, particularly among young people. After two years of trial and error with various medications and therapies, I opted for a three-stage surgery to remove my colon and regain control of my life. I just had my second surgery, which involves rerouting my small intestine into a “j pouch,” which will function as a new colon and rectum. I’ll have to wear an ostomy bag for only another three months. After being released from the hospital, I subsequently ended up in the ER, again, with a bowel obstruction. The English language lacks the appropriate terminology to describe how painful bowel obstructions are, especially when your abdomen is being held together by staples. Thankfully, however, it resolved itself without needing corrective surgery. And I got all the dilaudid I wanted.

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