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I’d Like to File a Complaint Against Ulcerative Colitis

Let me be the first to say that I’m all about finding the glass-half-full perspective on any situation. It took a lot of therapy to get to this point, but when I focus on the silver linings and sunshine over the clouds, it makes the hard stuff feel more liveable. This isn’t to say I’m walking around dishing out “toxic positivity”; rather, I prefer to find the deeper purpose in things that happen for me, not to me.

However, when you live with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis (UC), this proves to be easier said than done on some days. I recently gave birth to my son via an unplanned C-section, and I’m still experiencing some post-surgery gut struggles nearly six weeks removed from the procedure. So let me start my formal complaint here: Every time I have a grumbling stomach, I think it’s flare number three coming to my door. Call it a form of PTSD from two previous flare-ups or whatever makes sense for you — the reality is that any stomach issue equals “flare fear” for me. So I’m walking around in my life not only waiting for that shoe to drop, but also believing my fear has come to life every time I get a “normal” stomach pain. 

And another thing! It’s pretty exhausting to always be doing the “UC math,” as I call it every time I’m going to a social gathering: “Will the house have more than one bathroom? Is it weird to use the upstairs bathroom? Did I eat too soon before leaving? What food will be there? Did I check the menu? Who in this group knows about my UC? What do I have going on tomorrow?” The thoughts and questions I filter through as I drive to any social event are like a scratched record that can’t quite reach the next verse. It feels like I never get a break from this loop of thoughts related to my chronic illness.

UC has been disrespectful, boundary-pushing, a meeting interrupter, overbearing, inconsiderate, embarrassing, a buzz kill, a bad influence, and pretty much any other trait you’re definitely not looking for in a colleague, partner, friend, or companion. Do I still aim to see the bright side of any of these traits? Of course. Without flare-ups, I wouldn’t have landed in the therapy that I landed in and discovered the sides of me that I’ve discovered. However, I do need to take this moment to acknowledge all the angst that UC brings along with it as well. So if I must live with UC for the rest of my life, I can make it work, but it won’t always be pretty. 

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