Don't let the name Give Crohn's A Slap From Me confuse you! We are here to raise awareness for the whole IBD family and anyone else suffering from a chronic illness. We felt it was time to shine a light on more of the people we follow on social media and who support us on this mission we've started. 'Me & IBD' will give a small platform to people who want to share their individual story, in their own words. GCASFM would like to introduce Elif, someone whose positive outlook and great spirit has really caught our attention.
My name is Elif, I am 22 years old and I am an Ulcerative Colitis warrior. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2015 at the age of 19, it was a really horrible time for me!
I was in Austria visiting my friend and I started to have cramps and pain. Once I had to use the bathroom and saw lots of bleeding. First I thought something I had eaten something that wasn’t good for my gut and stomach, however day by day it got worse.
I returned to Turkey and my mom took me to the hospital, because I wasn’t able to walk, talk or eat. I looked so unwell. My hemoglobin level was 3! A regular level should have it at least 10! I was hospitalized immediately, the specialists said I was at risk of having a heart attack. The doctors did lots of research, trying to work out why I was losing lots of blood. They performed a colonoscopy and found out that I had Ulcerative Colitis (UC).
I was hospitalized for a further 3 months. I started using prednisone, salofalk tablets and enemas and also Imuran. Due to this ongoing treatment I had to quit my college. I was unable to attend to my lessons, I cried a lot, it made me very sad. I really wanted to go to school and be a good student. Thanks to the medication, day by day I started to feel much better.
Moving into 2016, I was doing great and I was in remission. No more pain or bleeding, I was able to continue my college lessons again. Unfortunately on my first day back my classmates made fun of me. I really looked so unwell and when I got close to them I overheard them saying my illness was infectious, they believed they could catch UC. This made me very upset and self conscious. Everyday I was crying at home, I felt so lonely. My friends stopped talking to me, which was really unfair, but I didn’t give up.
Despite the short term remission, in February 2017 my Ulcerative Colitis began flaring again. I saw lots of bleeding and the cramps were so uncomfortable. I went to see my doctor again, but he didn’t do anything. My health gradually got worse and worse, day by day. I changed my doctor and found a better one, who was great. He said I had a severe form of UC! So I was hospitalized again, from May until July of 2017. This was the month of my college graduation ceremony. I really wanted to attend the ceremony because it was my only dream.
It was really hard for me to graduate with this sickness, I'd always felt terrible during my final exams. The day of my ceremony I was having a routine colonoscopy. We discovered that the medications that I had been prescribed were not working. I was going to bathroom 20+ times a day and again I was losing a lot of blood. The doctors decided that I'd start a course of Remicade infusions.
After receiving my first Remicade infusion, the bleeding stopped and I was doing okay. After I got my second infusion I felt so much better. However, after my third infusion the bleeding started again and it was getting worse day by day. None of the medication seems to be working. Since the beginning of September 2017 the bleeding has continued, I've tried lots more medications, to try and help my symptoms. Lastly, I was prescribed Entyvio infusions, however these also didn’t work. My latest colonoscopy showed that it was time for me to have surgery. February 20th 2018 I will have total colectomy, I will have a stoma and hopefully soon I will have a j-pouch. I have tried many types of diet to aid my symptoms, such as gluten free, dairy free, vegan, SCD etc, but none of them worked. Despite all of the bleeding and discomfort during my UC journey, I always stayed positive.
On January 2018 I graduated from college, I was so happy. It's really difficult to explain my feelings. Thanks to my University I was able to have my own graduation ceremony. One thing I learned from my UC journey, is motivation. If you are happy your body is happy and lastly your UC is happy. If you stress a lot about getting healthier as soon as possible, your UC will get worse.
I did everything that I could, I went out with my friends, visited places that I really wanted even though I had pain & bleeding, it didn’t stop me. I also discovered that while I was doing stuff that I loved, my UC behaved very well. In four days I will have my surgery, at the same time I have been attending job interviews. I went to four interviews and all of them like me, they want to work with me. Only a couple of weeks ago I was crying a lot and saying that I will never have a future, I won’t ever have a job. But after only two days I received 4 job interviews! So, think positive, you can heal your body just by yourself. Never lose your hope, if you can dream it, you can do it.
Sincerely, Ulcerative Colitis Warrior Elif