My name is Lauren and I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 1999 at the age of 11. It wasn't until I had my appendix out a couple years later that I discovered antibiotics were the only thing that I would really respond to. While the antibiotics would help my symptoms, they would never actually help with the inflammation/ulcers.
Every colonoscopy I had (and there are far too many to count) would end the same - pancolitis (entire colon) with moderate to severe inflammation throughout. I somehow managed to get through middle school, high school, college, my first job and my wedding but it wasn't without pain, accidents, anxiety, weight loss, sleepless nights and plenty of trips to the bathroom.
In the last couple of years I started to get recurring bouts of cdiff (bacterial infection) and would have to resort to a stronger/broader range antibiotic every time. We tried a fecal transplant as well as biologic infusions as a last resort. On top of it all, I had lost 30 pounds and they discovered dysplasia or precancerous cells in my colon.
At that point, we knew surgery was the next step. It was just two months later that I packed my bags for the Cleveland Clinic and had my entire colon removed as part of the 3 step jpouch process. I am now a couple week post op (step 2) and feeling better than I have in 18 years - all thanks to that little gray bag (and an amazing surgeon). While I know I have one more surgery to go, I am living every day to fullest!
My advice to everyone is to surround yourself with people you love and with doctors who listen. Lastly, know that you are not alone. This community is endless and the support is unwavering - don't be afraid to reach out!