How the Times Have Changed

“You can never progress if you are letting things that don’t deserve your attention continue to bring you down.”

Back in October when I was finally cleared of the parasites and diagnosed with grade 4 UC, I knew my life would change forever. Because I had already been dealing with the symptoms for so long, it wasn’t like there was anything new for me to learn. My first doctor had gone back and forth with my diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. When I first began showing symptoms in January 2012 I only had a moderate case of proctitis. After having multiple parasites in my system for close to a year, my diagnosis severely changed.

I was already watching my diet and so confused as to why nothing edible was staying in my system. I had stopped drinking alcohol, was sleeping all the time and had extreme weight loss. Changes in life because of disease can be very difficult for everyone involved. The patient, the family, friends, co-workers, etc.

Before my stint in the hospital, I was an insane workaholic. I loved my job working for a local bar and grill and was working extreme hours, even on my sickest days, just to keep my spot as one of the closing night managers. I felt at home when I was at work. I loved my friends, customers and the fast paced environment. I loved working the long, late hours and laughing with my friends behind the bar. Looking back, was I on a power trip? Absolutely. Were some of the people that I was hanging out with making me see things in a different light from reality. No question. Never for one second did I doubt my relationship with any of these people. I always thought these were friends for life.

My stay in the hospital started on a Friday afternoon, right before I was supposed to work the entire weekend. Even though my body was screaming for me to stop, I kept going. I felt such a loyalty to this bar that I was allowing my own health to deteriorate. For the entire week I never heard a word from the majority of my co-workers and bosses. I understand that many of them may have felt that it would be bothersome to try and call or text. But in reality, hearing anything from them would have been nice. I received countless cards, flowers and calls from other family and friends, but nothing from the people that I spent the majority of my time with and who have watched me become so sick firsthand.

After leaving the hospital with my new diagnosis, I was told that I could not partake in any basically any activity except rest for the next two weeks. This drove me crazy. I was so upset that I had already had to take off a week to be in the hospital, let alone two more weeks of no work. My parents have always been very supportive and insisted that I stop working at the bar all together.

After being out of the hospital for a few weeks, I visited my friends and my workplace. I begged my best friend to let me come back on the schedule for 1 or 2 days a week, promising that I was ready and could keep up. My parents had me under close watch and she and I both knew that it was pretty much impossible.

As time went on and my symptoms of colitis were almost unbearable to live with, still all I could think about was getting back to work. Unfortunately, I had not spoken with any of my friends that I had worked with for close to two years. I knew that I was going to have to find something to do, or else I would go crazy living back at home with my parents. I found a small marketing job for an event planning company and resumed my life in Columbus.

To make a long story short, I don’t have relationships with most any of the same people I considered my closest friends a year ago. Out of everything, this has been the hardest for me to cope with. This disease changes every aspect of your life and those that are there for you through the roughest moments are the ones who mean the most.

My mom told me that some people just don’t know how to deal with sickness. Maybe some people are so wrapped up in their own lives that they can’t take a second to see what is really important. My boss always tells me that this happened to me for a reason. That those people were in my life at a certain point to teach me something and there’s a reason why they aren’t here anymore. What bothers me the most is that through my sickest days, I was still there to listen to their problems and to work my hardest.

I know firsthand how difficult it is to be diagnosed with a disease that a lot of people don’t know anything about. They don’t know what to say, do, how to act, or how to help. All you can do is be thankful for the people that have taken the time to understand your new life. I am so blessed to have such a strong support group of friends and family. Try to keep in mind that things will get better and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

On my sickest days I like to rest with my family or boyfriend, they know my symptoms the best and I can feel comfortable not feeling well around them. Shutting people out will only make symptoms worse. UC is triggered by stress and having people to talk to will help clear your mind and make everything seem a little easier.

I still think about my friends and old job quite often. I have a lot of trouble forgiving and forgetting what happened. I feel as though I never mattered to any of them, like those friendships I spent so much time on were a waste. In reality, I have a great job, a loving family and an amazing support system of close friends. Through being diagnosed with IBD comes change and it doesn’t have to be negative.

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