You’re right. I don’t.
Ulcerative Colitis is an invisible disease. I fight it daily. When I’m in remission, I am pretty healthy and can do everything that a healthy person can (except eat salads – I can’t do that).
When I was first diagnosed, many people would say “But you don’t look sick” “Add more fiber, will that help?” “It’ll be fine, you’re not that bad” “When is it over?” “Are you cured yet?” *cue eye-rolls*
When I’m not in remission (like currently) I battle fatigue, achy joints, extreme stomach pain, running to the bathroom multiple times a day (as much as 30+ times a day), lack of appetite, and generally feeling like crap. Every minute of everyday revolves around UC. I have to think about every single minute of every single day and work hard to hopefully reach remission. You may not be able to see the bleeding ulcers in my colon but I promise you, they’re there.
Health and fitness has helped tremendously. I follow a pretty simple diet – no sugars, no grains (NSNG). It’s basically paleo if you want to give it a name. Sugar is shown to be inflammatory so I stay away. It does a great job at triggering a flare for me. But grains? Well, gluten is out for most people with IBD. It causes SEVERE stomach aches for me. I stay away from grains because I have to be low-fiber until I reach remission. After I reach remission, they won’t return to my diet.
The picture above shows me in the hospital with pancreatitis, 5 days prior to my UC diagnosis. My dad sat with me at the hospital while I cried when they gave me morphine and said “Yep, it’s pancreatitis”. I was supposed to meet my dad for dinner that night. Instead, I met him at home and he drove me to the ER. I knew then that UC was likely in my future and five days later, it was confirmed.
The after picture shows how daily exercise, paleo diet, and taking medication daily has helped me. I am NOT in remission and this definitely may not work for everyone. At any minute, my health could change and I’m aware of that. But yeah, I don’t look sick. I get that. I don’t like looking sick and work hard to make sure I am healthy.