October 2009 I went in to have three wisdom teeth removed.  Not that I was looking forward to this at all; literally could have done anything else except this.  And I enjoy going to the dentist, so that wasn’t the issue just the whole pulling teeth out issue.  You know?? I went to a dentist I really didn’t have a report with, as I was still new to town.  However, he did agree that I needed them gone which was great news to me as they were giving me some trouble.  So now, I just had to actually go do this.  UGH!

When I got home from the surgery, however, I was immediately pooping blood.  I just assumed it was from the pain medicine they gave me, I do not handle Lortab too well. So, I assumed they just gave me more pain medicine to help me.

Moving forward a week, I was still pooping blood.  At work, I would just start cramping and pooping all the time. There were a few times where I messed in my pants and all I can say is thank goodness we had a “clothes closet” for the patients because I had to borrow a few outfits. I hated doing that, was so embarrassed but I had no choice.  (I started always bringing extra clothes to work after a few times of this happening.)

Still having bathroom issues

One day I was at the gym on the treadmill running.  I just started cramping, felt I was going to have the worst gas ever.  I kept running because I thought it was gas then I just went in my pants literally right there on the treadmill. It was horrible.  After that I made an appointment to go back to the dentist to see what was going on or if they knew anything to help me.

At the appointment, the nurse looked at my x-rays and said that I had a small cyst in the back left of my mouth and that it must have ruptured when the doctor took the wisdom tooth out.  I told her my systems and what was going on and how bad I felt but she recommended I go back to the mouth surgeon that took the teeth out.

So another appointment was made and the same information was giving to me.  There was a cyst and it popped but they were sorry for what happened but they can’t do anything about it. Meaning I need to go find another doctor to help explain why I am pooping blood and just feeling absolutely horrible all the time.

Now for the specialist

It wasn’t just the pooping and cramping and gas and bloating but all of the foods I used to eat I couldn’t anymore without having some type of issue. I was always miserable and always worried about when I would poop. I was on a date and I didn’t make it home one night and messed up in my car.  Luckily, my boyfriend at that time was amazing (he is now my husband) but wow did he have to go through a lot with me.

I worked with some of the most amazing nurses and they recommended I go see one of the general Practitioners that help us with our patients. She did an exam and ran tests, recommended I go see a gastroenterologist because I have inflammation and need further testing.

Are you kidding me – I have what?

Fast forward to May 2010, I went in for my first colonoscopy.  Result was Ulcerative Colitis, UC, an inflammation of the intestine and rectum. A chronic, long-term disease with usually no cure only remission.

To say I was furious is an understatement.  There is no real proof of how someone can get it but there are lots of “ideas” running around the medical community.  Mine was through a cyst in my mouth that popped and sent bad bacteria into my blood stream where it settled in the intestines.  I didn’t realize the extent of my disease at first; I was an active vegetarian, exercised four-five days a week and watched my alcohol.  OK, actually I have always loved my wine!!  But, I digress…you get the point.

Food, food and more food

I tried to “cure” myself at first.  For the first two years of my diagnosis I did so many “diets” to help with my new found inflammation and bloody poop.  Some were successful until some food triggered me and I was right back at square one- cramps, gas, bloody poop.  I was given a medicine called Liadla.  Honestly, I was so inconsistent with this medicine that I cannot give a full report on how well it worked. 

I have the mentality that food can cure anything so I would take the medicine every other day and try to fix it with food.  Went on the raw diet – no!  Let’s just end with that – NO, it did not help.  I went vegan – full-fledged vegan.  I lost weight, looked great and for the first month it definitely helped me.  Then I ate something, I cannot remember what it was but I was in a horrible flare-up so I stopped that.

I say the first two years I tried the many “diets” to help my UC because just shy of my two year mark I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Here was a 36 years old, unwed, childless woman with an already chronic disease and now breast cancer. So, I put finding answers to my UC on hold to focus on breast cancer.

Remission

During the next year and a half I was in remission.  I had so many other drugs and chemotherapy going into my system that my UC was not affecting me.  I didn’t have too many bowel issues, any that came up were hard to say where they came from due to the other medicine.

Then in February 2014, I asked my Chemo-oncologist if it was ok for me to try to get pregnant because I was not a full two years out of chemotherapy. This pushed me out another year of remission because NOW I had to use fertility drugs to get pregnant.

Now what

After my child was born, post three months, I was back at work.  Well, trying to work without crying daily missing my little man. Work started to get really stressful and I started getting a little cocky with my food so I went through several months, close to six months where I was back pooping blood, cramping, gassy and bloated.  It was hell!  I knew then I could not continue to keep trying to cure myself so I went to a new gastroenterologist to try a different medicine.  She gave me Apriso.

Apriso helps reducing inflammation and irritation in the colon. There are four pills that need to be taken daily, preferably in the morning.

For the past two years, I have only had three flare ups, again, because I got cocky with food. Also, missed my medication a few times and crazy enough my body does not get accustomed to this medicine.  So if I miss a day or two, I will have longer than normal bathroom breaks along with side effects.

I did quit my job and stay home with my son which has done wonders for my psyche and bowels.  And I was blessed to find the perfect bathroom accessory in my Squatty Potty!!!  I wrote a post about this perfect bathroom tool for anyone (really) but mainly for those who suffer from UC, Crohn’s disease, IBS or any other bowel disorder.  This tool has helped me survive many bathroom dependent moments!!

To be honest

It would be safe to say that, although, I had cancer, my UC has given me many more uncertain times over the years.  I have not found my happy place yet with food and my UC…which is frustrating but I am more comfortable now on this journey then I was before.  And that itself is a blessing. 

But, you see, now I am 8 years post UC, 6 years post cancer and 3 years post baby (haha).  My body has been through so much within the last 8 years, I feel I am at my base line now.  This is the perfect time for me to reevaluate some of those “diets” (I so hate that word) I tried before – maybe now they will stick. 

 Blessings, mandy k
P.S. If you have any concerns about your own bowels or any issues you may be having, here is a handy QUESTION check list.  Just print and bring to your next doctors visit.