Guest column: IBDWritten by Stephen Ward | | email@example.com
I was always an athlete. Growing up I played and excelled in many sports — football, track, and wrestling — just to name a few. I thought of myself to be healthy. I’m not over weight. I never smoked, never did drugs, and I don’t drink. At the age of 34, I should be in the prime of my life … but then IBD hit.
I began to have unexplained abdominal pains, loss of appetite, weight loss … and then the inevitable happened. Bleeding … and lots of it. IBD hit.
After having a colonoscopy and biopsy done, my life was changed in a flash. As it says in James 4:14, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” IBD hit.
You ask, what is IBD? IBD is short for inflammatory bowel disease, a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The major types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Recently, IBD came knocking at my door. I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I have decided to go public with my diagnosis, to help bring awareness to this debilitating disease known as ulcerative colitis. Before being struck with this disease, I had never heard of it. I am certain that many of you reading this article also have not heard of ulcerative colitis. I think it is important that we educate ourselves, and in the midst of having this disease, I want to help you.
So what is ulcerative colitis? Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the intestine, specifically the large intestine or colon, which includes ulcers, or open sores in the colon. It comes with many symptoms including constant diarrhea mixed with blood, abdominal pain, weight loss and much more. It can be treated with medication and/or surgery, but there is no cure. Ulcerative colitis occurs in 35-100 people for every 100,000 in the United States, or less than 0.1 percent of the population. It has no known cause and while dietary modification may reduce the discomfort of a person with the disease, ulcerative colitis is not thought to be caused by dietary factors.
Ulcerative colitis can occur in people of any age, but it usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. It has no respect to gender or race.
Having ulcerative colitis increases your risk of colon cancer. About 25 to 40 percent of ulcerative colitis patients must eventually have their colons removed because of massive bleeding, severe illness, rupture of the colon or risk of cancer. Sometimes the doctor will recommend removing the colon if medical treatment fails or if the side effects of corticosteroids or other drugs threaten the patient’s health.
Unfortunately, ulcerative colitis can lead to death if symptoms develop into toxic megacolon. Toxic megacolon is an acute form of colonic distension. It is a complication of ulcerative colitis. With toxic megacolon, there is usually an elevated white blood cell count. Severe sepsis may present with hypothermia or leukopenia.
Recently, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America launched a Crohn’s disease caucus to promote awareness of inflammatory bowel disease.
Congressmen Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-IL) created the Congressional Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus in order to expand research and improve insurance coverage for the 1.4 million Americans affected by IBD. The caucus will work to expand research at the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two of the main forms of IBD both affecting the intestines.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to finding the cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis is CCFA’s largest fundraising event. Participants raise funds and awareness throughout the year and come together to celebrate the steps that have been taken towards a cure.
Since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it has not been easy for me. I take 20 pills per day, and I have good and bad days. But, I am holding on to God’s unchanging hand. This summer, I will be taking steps to finding a cure for ulcerative colitis by taking part in a walkathon sponsored by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. If you are interested in learning more, contact me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.