Once diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, it was now time to find a medication that would help me feel better. It’s important to note, these medicines were never going to cure me (as many medicines are not meant to cure, their more just created to quiet symptoms). Because of this fact, there was always going to be a chance I’d flare again. But, I digress.
First, I was put on prednisone, one of the most dreaded kinds of medicine if you’ve ever had to take it. It’s most commonly used to treat inflammation. (Today I can rattle off a million different foods and vitamins that can and do help with inflammation, and I’d tell you to look into those before you ever take prednisone) Prednisone makes your face swell, facial hair grow, causes weight gain, cramps in your muscles, it’s awful. On top of that I needed a medication to maintain a healthy colon once the prednisone got rid of the inflammation. I tried 2 different medications over the course of the next two years or so.
I started taking Asacol and it did nothing for me. My doctor then tried Colazal and that did help for about a year and a half. However, let me explain something, prednisone tastes like rusty nails. I had to wrap each pill in bread just to get it down, I took 3 a day (try to keep track). Colazal was three pills 3 times a day, that’s 9 a day, then I had to take iron pills because of the blood I was losing, that was one pill 3 times a day so another 3 a day, what are we at folks? 15? And then I took a multivitamin because wtf is one more right? At least that one was going to do some good for me. Sixteen pills a day…that was my new normal. (After about 6 months I began to ween off of the prednisone, unfortunately the symptoms take their sweet time weening away as well.)
Then about a year and a half into that madness, the Colazal stopped working, I had a flare. What’s a flare you might ask? Remember the beginning that radiating pain, not able to eat, and blood? Yea, that’s a flare. It all rushed right back. Why? I could never really pinpoint any of them for sure, yes there were more, way more to come.
At the time of this flare, my doctor knew about a medication that just came on the market, Lyalda, that was only one pill 3 times a day. Woo hoo down to 7 pills a day total! (3 Lyalda + 3 iron + 1 multi). Got it?
I graduated high school in May of 2007, left for college, changed majors, graduated, and got a job and from 2007 to 2015 I had 5 more flares and in 2012 I developed cystic acne (future blog to come about that issue). Every flare meant I got back on prednisone and the vicious cycle of getting “better” would start all over again. I’d have a colonoscopy every time as well. I was never told anything about diet other than avoid nuts and popcorn. Easy. But, still didn’t work, clearly. In 2015, I got information from my doctor that to me, was unacceptable.
My specialist told me that this flaring was happening way too often and that if I had one more I’d need to be put on daily inject-able medication for the rest of my life. Most would panic, I remember laughing.
I’m DEATHLY afraid of needles number one, and number two and any other number you want to list, UH NO, like NEVER was I going to settle for that life. I remember thinking I can never go back to this doctor with a flare, and I didn’t. After that appointment I spent hours combing the internet for answers. I found tons of articles that claimed to keep colitis in remission or “cure” it forever. How? With what you eat! Also, medical marijuana just passed in my home state of Massachusetts. Could that also be an option? I was reading great things about the powers of CBD (I’ll get into more details later). The only thing I knew in that moment, was that there were definitively some other options (prayer hands) and I wish that I took control sooner.
If you’ve ever been so robbed of your health seemingly out of your control, you know you’d try just about anything to feel better. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on why I changed my diet, saw a naturopath, and became a medical marijuana patient in the coming days/weeks and I’ll talk more about where my journey went from here.