Photo Testimonial: Ulcerative colitis won't stop me from travelling
Published 5 Apr 2019 • By Josephine O'Brien
Ulcerative colitis won't stop me from travelling
It has now been more than 6 months since the diagnosis of this disease was confirmed, and just under a year and a half since the first crisis. My illness? It's called ulcerative colitis. I too, I reassure you, I had never heard of it before I was told that I was suffering from it. I could explain it to you in detail, but Wikipedia will do it much better than I will. Just know that it is an autoimmune disease of the intestine, a bit like Crohn's disease, but less widespread. Just like Crohn's disease, it is treatable, but not curable.
The first few weeks, it was hard to accept it. It called a lot of things into question, including my travel dreams that I have been having for the past 10 years now. It's quite ironic, because the trigger for this disease in my case was the cessation of smoking, precisely for these trips. Freeing yourself from one evil to gain another in the process, if I had known....
Don't let this disabling disease get you down
Fortunately for me, this disease is not the most painful in the world. Pain is, most of the time, largely bearable, and constitutes only a slight discomfort. A discomfort with which we learn to live with on a daily basis. There are many moments when I sometimes twist in pain because of it, but fortunately, these are quite rare, only the discomfort is almost always present. But in return, it is accompanied by other problems.
We could mention the much greater pain as soon as we start having to go to the toilet, but for me, the worst thing is never knowing when the next crisis may occur.
You can go weeks, months or even years without anything, and then overnight, repeat a crisis, like that, for no reason. And there is nothing we can do to prevent it, other than continue taking the treatment to try to delay it for as long as possible. This disease is living with a threat constantly hanging above you, or rather your stomach in this case.
It really wasn't easy to digest as news. But over time, I got used to it, and I maintained my travel plan, refusing to let myself be dictated by a simple illness! Certainly, I will have to plan my trip with more cautionand stay in contact with my gastroenterologist just in case, but that won't stop me from leaving in a few months! I refuse to let it get to me!
This testimonial is part of the graduation project of Gaëlle Regnier, a student in photography at the Agnès Varda School of Photography and Visual Techniques in Brussels. She chose chronic pain as the theme of this photo report to highlight the patients and their struggle.
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