Patient Blogs | Ulcerative Colitis
How I Handle Traveling With Ulcerative Colitis
photo of businessman pulling rolling suitcase

A couple of months after I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I had to decide whether to travel to a conference related to my work as a university professor. At the time, I was having up to 10 loose, bloody stools a day. Traveling in my condition would no doubt be tricky, but I thought I could make it through the 3-hour drive to the airport, the 3-hour flight, and the 3-day conference if I wore adult diapers and limited my food intake. Making the decision more difficult was the fact that two students were accompanying me to the conference.

The closer we got to the day of our departure, the worse my condition got. With the day of our departure less than a week away, it became clear to me that attempting to attend this conference was a bad idea. I told the students that because of my health problem, I was unable to make the trip. However, I would do my best to find another faculty member to go with them. A colleague for whom I will forever be grateful was up for an adventure, and on short notice, he agreed to go with the students on my behalf.

In hindsight, the decision not to attend the conference was the correct one, because just before I was supposed to leave for the conference, I was hospitalized for my condition. I was discharged from the hospital on what would have been my first day at the conference.

During another hospitalization 2 weeks later, I started an IV biologic. Fortunately, I haven’t had to cancel a trip since then. That doesn’t mean traveling has been easy, though. In the early stages of my treatment and 4 years later when it began to stop working for me, I always had to be aware of where the nearest bathroom was. And because I received that biologic every 8 weeks, I always had to be mindful of when my future infusions were scheduled so I could plan trips and vacations around those days.

Although the IV biologic stopped working for me last year, my current biologic, which is an injection I give myself, is working well. I still have to plan trips and vacations around my treatment days, but I have a bit more freedom than I did when I was receiving IVs.  

 

 

Photo Credit: mapodile / E+ via Getty Images

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Brett Gaul

Brett Gaul

Diagnosed since 2016

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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