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10 Things Having Ulcerative Colitis Has Taught Me

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Brett Gaul - Blogs
By Brett GaulOctober 12, 2021
  1. If you notice pain or something unusual about your body, see a doctor right away. Don’t wait for the condition to resolve itself because that might not happen, and things could get worse. I could have saved myself time and suffering if I had seen a doctor sooner when I first noticed blood in my stools.
  2. Enjoy your good health while you have it. This applies to people with no health problems and people whose chronic conditions are currently being successfully managed by medication. Through no fault of your own, you could develop a chronic illness, or the medication that’s controlling your condition could suddenly stop working.
  3. Appreciate your normal bowel movements. Until you have a problem with them, you might not realize how you take normal bowel movements for granted. Before a biologic began to control my condition, I went several months without a normal-feeling, blood-free bowel movement. I remember how happy I was when I had my first normal bowel movement again.
  4. More people have irritable bowel diseases than I ever knew. Before being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I knew two people with an irritable bowel disease. After I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and began to share that information with people, I discovered that several students, colleagues, and friends either had an irritable bowel disease themselves or had family members who did.
  5. Health insurance is complicated. Prior to my hospitalizations, my experience with the health care system and with health insurance was minimal. At times, dealing with insurance has been a part-time job. I have spent many hours on the phone and the internet dealing with insurance referrals and pre-authorizations.
  6. Medical care and biologics are expensive. Without health insurance, it would be impossible for me to afford my ulcerative colitis health care and medication.
  7. Talking with others who have ulcerative colitis helps. I have benefited immensely from talking to others who have ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Their understanding, tips, and support have made dealing with my condition a bit easier.
  8. I am not in control of my disease. I’ll probably never know why I developed ulcerative or why several medications stopped working for me. Instead of ruminating on why this happened, I focus on the things I can control: taking my medication as directed, eating right, exercising, and keeping my care team informed about any changes in my condition.
  9. I need to be my best advocate. My health care team has been a great help, especially with insurance, but they can’t do everything. And they can’t address issues they don’t know about. If I have a problem, I need to speak up.
  10. I can deal with this. Although living with ulcerative colitis has been a struggle at times, I’m doing my best to live life as I did before I was diagnosed. Because several medications have stopped working for me, I take life one day at a time.



Photo Credit: Carles Navarro Parcerisas / Moment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Brett Gaul

Brett Gaul has lived with ulcerative colitis since 2016. A philosophy professor, Gaul enjoys sharing his passion for philosophy and helping students live more meaningful and successful lives. When he’s not having interesting dinner conversations with his history professor wife and three children, he likes reading, running, and rooting for Minnesota sports teams.

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