By Tina Haupert
For the past month, I’ve been battling some not-so-fun gastrointestinal issues. I’ll spare you the gory details, but basically, I’ve spent a lot of time freaked out, uncomfortable, and in the bathroom. Let me tell ya, it’s been a rockin’ good time. I don’t want to go into too much detail because I really don’t know exactly what's wrong with me, but I will tell you what I know.
After a bunch of tests last week, I was diagnosed with colitis, which is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine. The symptoms are belly pain, cramps, fatigue, diarrhea, bleeding, and other yuckiness. Sounds just peachy, doesn’t it? I have no clue how it started or whether it is something that I have to live with for the rest of my life. All I know is that I feel terrible.
Obviously, I’m not a happy camper right now. I’ve always been healthy, so dealing with this illness is really throwing me for a loop. I am upset and frustrated, and I just want to be well again!
My doctor prescribed a combination of drugs and suggested limiting the high-fiber foods in my diet to give my intestines a rest and to minimize symptoms. At first, I didn't listen to his advice about making changes to my diet. I ate my usual amount of fruits, veggies, and whole grains (I thought the nutrients were most important to getting well), but all of the fiber was upsetting my digestion, which made me feel even worse.
I started to eat more bland, intestine-friendly foods, including chicken soup, rice, ramen noodles, and bagels, which have helped me feel much more like my usual self. (I take a daily multivitamin to fill in the nutritional gaps.) Additionally, nixing the foods from my diet that worsen my symptoms (coffee, alcohol, refined sugars, beans, legumes, and spicy foods) has also really helped. (You can read more about foods to avoid if you have ulcerative colitis.)
It's only been a few weeks, so I'm still figuring out what colitis is all about and how I can better deal with it. There isn't a cure for it, but I know with the right changes to my diet and lifestyle, I will be back to my old self again soon.