In 2009 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC). The CCFA describes UC as “the result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. Normally, the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect you from infection. In [ the case of UC] however, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign or invading substances. When this happens, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, where they produce chronic inflammation and ulcerations.” — In short, your white blood cells have joined the other team… bummer.
You’re welcome to research UC in any depth that you would like, but basically, the symptoms of increased inflammation and ulcerations of the colon are frequent and urgent bowl movements, diarrhea, and bleeding of the inflicted area — again, total bummer.
I started experiencing symptoms of UC in 2007, but, as I said, it wasn’t until 2009 that I was formally diagnosed. My initial response to this prognosis was not necessarily a calculated one, but it was my response nevertheless. I was in my early 20’s at this time and I was invincible. Running was my daily exercise of choice. I had run a marathon several years before and would transition into training for and participating in Triathlons in the coming years. I had a healthy lifestyle, I had a good thing going, and no doctor was going to tell me that I had to depend on prescription drugs my WHOLE LIFE — I’m sure many of us can relate to these feelings in one way or another — insert personal life circumstance here. After my initial round of drugs and corresponding inflammatory remission, I decided not to take my prescribed medication and decided that God would either heal me or that my body would figure this out on its own. Neither ended up being the case and I found myself right back where I started.
I have learned to manage a life with UC, through the use of pharmaceuticals, as well as natural methods, but my intention with this article is not to focus on the condition itself, but rather, as an introduction to my journey of health, food, and wellness.
I don’t think of myself as disabled. I don’t dwell on this condition. And for the most part, I don’t let it impact my mood or my attitude day-to-day. Though, as close family and friends will attest, my battle with UC has become a filter by which I process my world. I don’t even say this negatively, but rather, realistically. I’ve gained the ability to say no to certain ways of life — foods, activities, rhythms. I’ve learned to give myself lots of grace in many areas — particularly in the aforementioned. And I’ve determined to look at circumstances through a new lens — opportunity, adaptation, and creative constraint.