A letter to my newly diagnosed self – #HAWMC Day 4

Hi Richard,

So, you’ve just been told you’ve got ulcerative colitis – so at least that drink that turned your bowels into Niagara Falls wasn’t for nothing. You’ve got your twice daily suppositories and your going home, and you’re not going to think about it much. It’s 2005 and you don’t routinely Google everything you’ve never heard of.

You should. You should find out about this disease, because in 3 months time it is going to hit you hard. You don’t know right now how serious it can be, and whilst nothing can prepare you for the double-digit toilet trips, stomach cramps and complete lack of energy you are going to have, it might be better to know that having your colon out is even a possibility. So do that, look into it.

The other thing you need to appreciate is what it means to have a chronic illness. For life. Incurable. And for you there are going to be long periods when you are ill. Can’t work. Can’t walk. Shit all over you and your bed. And *Spoiler Alert* your wife.

You are going to have toxic drugs pumped into your system. Experience Tramadol dreams and morphine itch. You will take drugs to combat side effects of the drugs you are taking to prevent side effects of your drugs. You will marvel at the commitment of doctors and nurses and others who work in hospitals. You will curse doctors and nurses and people who run hospitals.

If that sounds a bit bleak – well at times it will be. However, you will also live a life. You will achieve things. You’ll find a career for yourself, go back to university. You’ll move house and start a family. And you’ll tell your story and be surprised that people want to hear it.

Take notes – it will make it easier later.

Remember there is no point in not telling the doctors how bad things are when they are bad.

So that is my advice from 11 and  a half years down the line. I’ll see you when you get here.

Richard

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