Keith’s story
Ulcerative colitis

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I am not a superman… asking for help is not weak

Channel pain through poetry, singing and song writing... discover Mr. Chipps story.
Ulcerative Colitis can be a restraining condition, but even if for Keith it means being more concious of his body, it doesn't stop him from giving an amazing example by volunteering, singing, writing poetry...

Hello Mr. chipps, could you introduce yourself in few lines?

I am Keith, but for my profile I am Mr  Chipps, because I am an amateur poet, singer, and song writer. I sing in several choirs and a folk group. I am retired and do voluntary work for a couple of charities and the N.H.S, which will be supporting Veterans, as I am a veteran myself.

How did you find out you had ulcerative colitis and how did you get your diagnosis? (was the diagnosis quick or was it difficult to get?

I began having lots of diarrhea, which lasted several days and eventually I was having anal bleeding. It began to become hard to eat, sleep, etc. My Doctor did an internal examination at my home. After about 5 days he said it was a bowel infection and should soon clear up. 

Several weeks later things were not any better, so I went to the hospital. They did a sigmoidoscopy, an internal camera inspection of my bowel. I was told I had a bowel disease but nothing more. It became worse, and I was eventually admitted to hospital, with severe rectal bleeding, dehydration and diarrhea, which turned pink, due to my bowel bleeding.

I was in inpatient for 3 weeks. A diagnosis could only be partially confirmed due to my bowel being badly inflamed and infected. I had to wait for several months to have a colonoscopy, of the large intestine, which confirmed the extent of the inflammation, which was over 200% 

What was your reaction when you found out you had ulcerative colitis?

My initial reaction was utter shock and disbelief, because I was also told I could have died due to the extent of my dehydration and bleeding. I was further diagnosed as having diabetes, as a result of me having to take medications, over several years for other medical conditions. I was kept in the hospital for 3 weeks and discharged, to see the doctor again in 6 weeks if things did not settle down.

(I had to take steroids, which affected my whole life and emotions etc.)

What major impacts has the disease had on your everyday life? (the relationship with your family and friends, complications…)

My life and lifestyle are dictated by my Ulcerative colitis, because like irritable bowel syndrome, it can be very unpredictable and my bowel can flare up with very short notice. I have had at least 3 flare ups and they can last for several weeks to months. If I have a really bad flare up, I can be confined to my house. I feel weak, irritable, worn down, nd unable to concentrate, or plan my life. But if I am having a stable period, which can last several months, or years, I can lead a normal-ish life. But I am always having to check my bowel movements and look for blood from in my rectum, so basically Ulcerative Colitis still governs my life. I often get a lot of bloating, stomach cramps, and sometimes constipation and aches in my bones.

There are several down sides to living with Ulcerative Colitis, and they can be as a result of the medication, I have to take to control it. They can also be brought on by the stress of constantly monitoring my bowel movements and bloating. My friends accept me with my medical conditions and treat me as a normal person and support me and help me cope with everything, especially when i am having a hard time because of a bowel flare up . At times it can be hard for me to drive, and my good friends will drive me, or help do my shopping.

As for today, how do you manage your life with ulcerative colitis? What practical advice could you give to other patients on how to cope with this condition?

Today I mange my life as best I can and have come to learn that, there is no cure for my ulcerative colitis, or some of my other health problems. So I do my best to lead a normal life and keep busy with my hobbies, my singing in choirs and voluntary work. I have done over 30 years voluntary work and get a lot out of it because even though I have poor health, which can at times debilitate me and keep me housebound, it can never take away my self-esteem. I will continue to strive to live a happy and full life.

Doing what I do and meeting others worse off than me teaches me to be positive, look forward, and be grateful to be alive. Yes, when I have bad days I do get a little down, but I never give in and start whnning as it does no good and it upsets those close to me. It also upsets me when I meet miserable people who are living with their poor me syndromes. 

I have learned to use my skills, education and personality, for my own and other peoples benefit. Last year I played Santa on 2 occasions for charities.

"However I am not a superman, simply a man, who like millions of others, has faced many traumas, but continues on with life no matter how hard it maybe some days."

What positive message would you like to share with our readers? 

The only positive advice I can offer people living with traumas, poor health, or depression is to take each day as it comes and accept that it is not a curse on you. You can scream and shout, or do yoga or exercise, to let your stress out...let the tears fall if it makes you feel better, or like me try writing a new poem or a write an email letter.

Take each day as it may come, and on good days make your life a ball! Let your family and friends sometimes know how you may feel because asking for help is not weak or a big deal. 

Try to always think of the good times, when you feel sad because then soon your heart will lift you up and make you feel glad!

Mr Chipps, the poet man