Patient Blogs | Ulcerative Colitis
Sources of Help and Support for Those With Ulcerative Colitis

One thing I’ve learned from living with ulcerative colitis is that it’s important to ask for help when I need it. If you’re also struggling with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis, I encourage you to be brave and ask for the help and support you need. Although you may be reluctant to do so, people are usually happy to help.

Sometimes the help and support I need is from family. I may just need them to understand that I am not up for a certain food or activity that day. This was especially true for me when various medications were not controlling my symptoms. However, even after my condition began to be controlled with an intravenous biologic, treatment days would often wear me out.

Besides family, another source of help and support is my care team -- my primary care physician, my gastroenterologist, and the nurses and staff that work with them. Whether I need help managing my symptoms or insurance assistance, my primary care team is always there for me and doesn’t let me down.

Depending on the medication my gastroenterologist has prescribed, I have also received help and financial support from the company that manufactures it. The manufacturer of the intravenous biologic I was originally prescribed offers a savings program that lowered the cost of the medication. The same manufacturer makes my current biologic, an injection I give to myself.

In addition to offering a savings program for that drug as well, the manufacturer also offers a care management program connecting patients to nurses who can answer questions and direct patients to online resources. One of the online resources was a video that showed patients how to give themselves an injection. I’d never given myself an injection before, so that video was particularly helpful.

The specialty pharmacy that fills the prescription for my current biologic offers a similar care management program, offering help and support from on-call nurses and health care professionals.

Online sources of help include -- home to many helpful articles (and blogs!) about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of ulcerative colitis -- and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Finally, as I wrote in a previous post, I have also been helped and supported by other patients. They have helped me understand what living with ulcerative colitis is like, what kinds of decisions I would have to face if I had to have my colon removed, and what it would be like to live without my colon.

I am fortunate to have so many sources of help and support. Each source is valuable and provides something different. These sources would be wasted, however, without the courage to use them. If you suffer from ulcerative colitis, I encourage you to seek the help and support you need. You can’t do it alone, but you alone have to decide to do it.



Photo Credit: NickyLloyd / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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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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