Tales of Triumph

Nervously, I shift in my seat. I know that this test is almost over. I just need to finish these last two math questions and I can hightail it out of here. I feel a shift in my gut and a cramping pain. The heat rising to my face is a sure sign I don’t have a lot of time. “Oh please let me finish,” I say to myself, as I squeeze every muscle in my body. I rush, guessing at the last question. I just hope nothing noxious escapes as I get up to leave. I can’t bear to have the hottie beside me realize it was me. I give the test to the teacher and head to the bathroom. I pray that nobody is in there! I enter to find Jaime washing her hands. I say a quick hello and head to the stall beside the window. Patiently I wait for her to leave and hope no one comes in! Before I can leave, I hear someone come in. “Ugh,” I quietly utter. Now I have to wait until they leave. I hope they can’t tell who I am by my shoes!

From Grade 9 until graduation, I had a GI episode like that one every day. Although my doctor knew something was wrong, I didn’t receive a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis until shortly after I graduated. I endured every test and elimination diet the doctor thought would help. For a teenage girl, these types of tests are nothing short of embarrassing. I felt that my life would end if anyone from school found out. The doctors told me to lower my stress. That sounded like good advice, but isn’t high school another word for extreme stress?

I learned that teachers really are there to help and want you to succeed. I asked my doctor to write a letter to my teachers explaining what I was going through, along with suggestions on how they could help. I was allowed to leave the class to go to the bathroom without having to ask. I could take tests in another room and have more time to complete them if I had to leave during the test. I also confided in my best friend what I was going through. Just being able to talk about it helped me. High school is stressful and IBD doesn’t help. With the support of teachers and friends you too will survive.

Now, years later, it seems you just trade one stress for another. Now it’s things like bills, my career, raising my children. Even though I still pray I will always find some air freshener when I need it, I am no longer embarrassed about my IBD and I talk about it openly.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 190 – 2014