Ulcerative colitis won't stop me from travelling
It has now been more than 6 months since the diagnosis of this disease was confirmed, and just under a year and a half since the first crisis. My illness? It's called ulcerative colitis. I too, I reassure you, had never heard of it before I was told that I was suffering from it. I could explain it to you in detail, but Wikipedia will do it much better than me. Just know that it is an autoimmune disease of the intestines, a bit like Crohn's disease, but less widespread. Just like Crohn's disease, it is treatable, but not curable.
For the first few weeks, it was hard to accept it. It caused me to call a lot of things into question, including my dreams I had for traveling, which I had been having for the past 10 years. It's quite ironic, because the trigger for this disease in my case was the cessation of smoking, which I did precisely for these traveling dreams. Freeing yourself from one evil to gain another in the process, if I had only known....
Don't let this disabling disease get you down
Fortunately for me, this disease is not the most painful in the world. Pain is, most of the time, largely bearable, and constitutes only a slight discomfort. A discomfort with which I learn to live with on a daily basis. There are many moments when I sometimes twist in pain because of it, but fortunately, these are quite rare... it is only the discomfort that is almost always present. But, the discomfort is accompanied by other problems.
We could mention the much greater pain as soon as we start having to go to the toilet, but for me, the worst thing is never knowing when the next crisis may occur.
You can go weeks, months or even years without anything, and then overnight, have a flare-up, like that, for no reason. And there is nothing we can do to prevent it, other than continue taking the treatment to try to delay it for as long as possible. This disease is living with a threat constantly hanging ober you, or rather, in this case, in your stomach.
The diagnosis really wasn't easy to digest. But over time, I have gotten used to it, and I was able to maintain my travel plans, refusing to let this simple illness dictate my life! Certainly, I will have to plan my trips with more caution and stay in contact with my gastroenterologist just in case, but that won't stop me from leaving in a few months! I refuse to let it get to me!
This testimonial is part of the graduation project of Gaëlle Regnier, a student in photography at the Agnès Varda School of Photography and Visual Techniques in Brussels. She chose chronic pain as the theme of this photo report to highlight the patients and their struggle.
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