March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. I just want to remind those of you 50 and over to remember to get your screenings! Colon cancer is very curable, but like with most cancers, early detection is key!
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 27 years old. The first few years were pure hell. I was extremely sick, and thought I was going to live out the rest of my days in misery. Thankfully, I have been in remission for the past few years, and feel I am as healthy as I was before getting sick. I want to share with those of you who may be suffering from Ulcerative Colitis or Chrone’s Disease a few tips that have helped me cope with the illness, and have made life a little more manageable.
• Keep A Food Diary
There are so many sites out there that have lists of foods you can and can not eat. Not every sufferer reacts to foods the same. I kept eating foods off the OK list, but was still getting sick. Other times, I would eat food off the NO list and would be fine. It’s all about pinpointing how YOUR body will react to foods. The best way to do that is to keep a list, then compare when you are flaring.
• Learn To Say No
Stress is a main cause of flare ups. When you are busy doing for everyone else, you aren’t helping yourself. This was very hard for me. I am a people pleaser. I always said yes to every little favor people asked of me, even if it caused me stress. When I finally started saying no, the stress was reduced, as were my flare ups. Bonus- you learn who your real friends are too!
If you feel tired, rest! Everything else can wait. If you are tired and keep pushing yourself, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. You are only putting more stress on your body, which will result in a flare up.
• Keep Gatorade On Hand
If you are feeling very tired or sluggish, you may be dehydrated. Many times I have been overly tired, but perk right back up after drinking a bottle of Gatorade.
• Map Out Restrooms
I have a knowledge of every public bathroom in my area, should I need one in an emergency. I will only dine at restaurants that I know have more than 1 bathroom stall. If a store does not have a public bathroom, I will not shop there. I choose Walgreen’s over CVS simply because Walgreen’s doesn’t lock their bathroom door. At CVS I have to hunt down an employee to open the bathroom, and by then it could be too late. I will not shop at supercenters that only have a restroom at the front of the store and not the back also. Getting stuck in the back of a large store then trying to rush to the front in an emergency is not pleasant. Also, when visiting amusement parks and zoos, make sure you have a map of the park with you at all times, and familiarize yourself with the restroom locations.
• Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Doctors or Medication
If you feel your doctor is not listening to your concerns, don’t be afraid to find a new one. I went through 3 different doctors before I found the right fit. Also, don’t be afraid to request a new medication. There were some medications that I knew were not working, but my doctor kept insisting that I take them. I wasted a lot of time taking medication that I knew wasn’t right for me because my doctor encouraged me to continue with the prescription. You know your body better than anyone else. If you feel the medication isn’t working, demand something else. Not everyone will react the same to every medication. I went through 5 different medications before finally finding the one that worked for me.
I am not a doctor, and am not claiming to be an expert on Chrone’s and Colitis. I am simply sharing some tips that have helped me manage my illness over the years. If you suffer from Chrone’s or Colitis, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about all the available options for treating your disease. These are lifelong illnesses, so the sooner you are able to have a better understanding of what works in terms of finding relief for your body, the better!