Weird to think that it was two years ago that I wrote this post. I went to the ER, and ended up staying in the hospital for two weeks, diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), the sister disease to Crohn’s.
When I got out of the hospital, I left feeling revived. I was on medicine, finally had a gastroenterologist (GI), and was in remission, after months and months of issues and pain. Today, well since April really, I’ve been on a steady decline. My medicine, which has been my savior the past two years, just all of a sudden isn’t working for me anymore. I’ve been trying a new drug, vising the hospital on a weekly basis for labs and tests, and have been back on the devil’s drug: Prednisone.
It was a good reminder for me to read my post from two years ago to give me some hope for better days ahead. It reminded me the main lesson I learned from that experience: your health is everything and should be held above everything else. It is so easy to get caught up in life and put off your health needs. I needed this reminder to make my disease a top priority so that I can find remission again.
If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it’s important to begin learning as much as you can about what it is. Not many people know what UC is, or understand how it effects the body and everyday life. Below are just some basics, leaving the actual symptoms and treatment options out. Even just the basic overview can help you to support your loved one, and I promise, promise, PROMISE they will be so appreciative that you have even taken ONE minute to try to understand.
What it is:
A chronic disease, that has no cure, or cause. Periods of remission can span months or even years, but symptoms will eventually return. Meaning: I’ll have this forever… BUT I do know many very smart people are working on fixing that(:
It causes inflammation of the large intestine, and pretty much throws your whole body off.
The result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. UC causes your immune system to not turn “off,” and therefore begins attacking your body. As a result, I am on a medication that weakens my immune system, so if you’re sick, stay awayyyyy.
What it’s not:
A constant stomach ache. I’m sorry if your stomach hurts sometimes too, I really am. But it doesn’t have anything to do with what my symptoms are. Yes, I do get stomach pains, but that’s the least of it.
Laziness. One of the many wonderful symptoms that comes along with UC is fatigue. I can sleep for >10 hours, and still wake up feeling absolutely exhausted.
Caused by diet. I mentioned there is no cause. While some people have found certain foods that irritates them, there is not a food group that we are asked to avoid.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS does not cause inflammation.
I hope that you or your loved one finds remission. UC sucks. It just does. But knowing that you have someone who understands, or even tries to, makes an incredible difference.
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.
Shel Silverstein, “The Mask”
How appropriate that I am writing this post just before Memorial Day, a day for remembrance of those who died in active military service.
The drive from Reims to Normandy was a long one – about 5 and a half hours. We only had ONE day in Normandy, so we needed to make it worthwhile. We got up at 5am and got on the road.
Evan is a fantastic European driver. He drove us around in Ireland, where they drive on the other side of the road, so I totally trusted him in France (they drive on our side). We had no GPS, so we were kind of just wingin’ it. We finally made it to Normandy, after a wild search for coffee and only getting on a few wrong highways.
Side note: Let me stop here and talk a bit about my knowledge of DDay, and when I got so into this. Two years ago, I knew the term DDay, I even knew the date (solely because it’s exactly one month before my birthday). I didn’t know nearly what I should have to be able to appreciate the men who gave their lives for our country that day. When we were planning a trip to France, Evan, the WWII buff, HAD to go to Normandy, which I was totally open to. However, I knew it wouldn’t be as meaningful for me to go there having such little knowledge, so I changed that. I bought the book “The Longest Day,” by Cornelius Ryan. I thought it was going to be a difficult book for me to get through, since my typical genre is love/romance/comedy. This book was amazing and I got completely absorbed in it. I learned so much, gained an interest, cried a lot, and could not put it down. This totally got me interesting in all things DDay, and WWII.
We went directly to Omaha Beach. My initial thought was how gorgeous it is. It’s a beach that people still utilize today – and it is beautiful. This made it very hard to imagine what happened here. There are memorials along the wall, explaining that day. On June 6, 1944, very little went as planned during the landing at Omaha. Difficulties in navigation caused the majority of landing craft to miss their targets throughout the day. The defenses (Germans) were unexpectedly strong, and inflicted heavy casualties on landing U.S. troops. Something I’ve never been able to get out of my head: the men who landed on this beach were so young. They were individuals, with lives and personalities, love and families. I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that they had on that boat ride from England to France. They gave their entire life to fight for what was right, to fight for America, and to give us, and our allies our freedom. As President Harry Truman put it:
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”
Next, we went directly to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. This took my breath away to see how many gravestones are here – over 9,000 Americans. They keep the grounds in immaculate condition. I was surprised that every stone has the name, and the troops are actually buried there. Previously, I thought it was just a memorial, but it is actually a cemetery and the gravestones have their name, which state they were from, the date that they passed, and which unit they were part of. There were a few we saw that the troop was unidentifiable, and the stone read “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.” It was incredibly moving to be here.
“If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest, it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: all we asked was enough soil in which to bury our gallant dead.”
General Mark W.Clark
Our final stop was Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. troops did what was considered the impossible and entered the enemy territory by scaling the cliffs. The U.S. bombed this area five times before DDay, and the massive holes from the explosions are still there today — they are everywhere.
It made me incredibly proud to be an American to see all of these sites. Many restaurants and homes in the Normandy area still today fly the American flag. It is amazing to think back to those dark days for the people in France, and how the flag gave them hope, and in the end gave them their freedoms back.
“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” — General John J. Pershing
Please take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to give thanks and remember the brave men and women who have given their lives for our country and our freedom.
I’ll never understand why humans can do these types of things. I’d like to not call them humans at all.
My heart broke for Brussels this morning. The only thing that we can hope for is that terrorism stops. The world is too beautiful of a place for this to continue.
My heart goes out to the people of Brussels. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Martin Luther King Jr.