I have ulcerative colitis | Hannah Witton
- So I have ulcerative colitis, which I've mentioned before in videos, but I don't think I've ever really gone in depth about it. I know that some of my viewers also have UC because you've mentioned it in comments and a lot of you have been asking me to talk more about it, so I thought, why not? Let's talk about our bowel movements. I have no idea what the sun is gonna do, so we're just gonna roll with it. So ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease or IBD.
Crohn's Disease also comes under this umbrella, but UC and Crohn's are different to IBS, which is irritable bowel syndrome. Kind of similar, but different families. The last time I checked, I think it was about one in 100 people have ulcerative colitis, so that's like, a lot of people, but not many people talk about it because it involves poo. It involves shit, it involves diarrhoea.
It's just not sexy. The first thing you need to know about UC is that it affects everybody differently. I suffer in a very specific way. A lot of people that I've spoken to with UC just have completely different experiences. I would consider myself very lucky because I have not had a serious flare up in 10 years, so touchin' wood, touchin' wood. Not many people talk about UC so publicly and openly and so I thought that I would just explain how UC has affected me throughout my life, so hopefully this will bring some comfort to those of you who also have UC, and for those of you who don't, maybe it will open your eyes to a whole new disease that you never heard of. I was diagnosed when I was seven years old. Between the age of seven and 15, I had a whole bunch of flare ups, so I had the one when I was seven, I had one when I was nine, one when I was 12, and then 14 and then 15.
A lot of people have colitis symptoms constantly. For me, I have zero symptoms until I have a flare up, and then it's like (blows raspberry). So the symptoms that I get are extreme abdominal pain. Whenever I get that pain, I need to run to the toilet and diarrhoea. It can be anywhere from like 10 to 20 times a day, and then it will also wake me up in the night as well, so you can imagine that when I'm in the middle of a flare up, I can't leave the house. I'm like, "Well, can't have a life now." I had a colonoscopy when I was seven, which is how they diagnosed me.
I had another one when I was 15 because that flare up was especially bad, and then I had another one when I was 18 when I moved to adult care. I had my last colonoscopy in 2015, and now I'm at a place where I think I have to have colonoscopies every five years, so I'll be due another colonoscopy in 2020. To be honest, at this point, I don't really mind the colonoscopies at all. The only bit I do mind is taking the medicine beforehand to empty your bowels so that they can like, have a proper good rummage around up there. There's a couple different types of powder stuff that you mix with water in order to like, basically shit yourself constantly for 24 hours.
One of them is called MoviPrep, which is orange-flavored, and I hated it. I ended up going for my colonoscopy appointment and because I didn't drink enough of it because it was so awful, my bowel was not prepped enough and we had to book another appointment. I feel bad wasting NHS time, but I was like, "I can't drink this." Now they give me this one called Picolax, and Picolax is meant to be more black currant flavoured. Still revolting, but I'm not like, actually like (gagging). MoviPrep is like, the default one that they'll give you. If you don't like that, you can ask for Picolax. You can ask for a different one. Definitely do that.
So throughout all my flare ups during childhood, they would usually last for a few months until the medication that they put me on had kicked in and it'd be in it and then I could go about my normal life again. I'd like to think that if I hadn't been on steroids since I was seven, I would maybe be like a few inches taller. My whole family is short, but I am like, the shortest out of them. The damn steroids. I could've had a couple extra inches in me. Most of the time the steroids would work. The side effect of the steroids was I got huge puffy cheeks, especially when I was 12. Oh, it was bad.
Being in year seven and like, having huge puffy cheeks, acne all across your forehead and a massive appetite, not the best for trying to avoid bullying. But when I was 15, the steroids did not work, and also the colitis was very different because I wasn't only having diarrhoea, I was also vomiting. When I went in for a colonoscopy, they also did an endoscopy and they found loads of ulcers down my oesophagus, too. Normally, when I have a flare up, I have like, just as much energy.
The steroids give me like, a huge appetite. I'm like, going about my normal life except I have to always be aware of like, where the toilet is so I can go at any minute. People just looking at me wouldn't know that I have ulcerative colitis or anything like that, but when I was 15 it was so different. Like, I got ill. I got really, really ill. Normally I would put on weight when I was having a flare up 'cause I was eating so much from the steroids, but the steroids just weren't working and I was vomiting everything up. I ended up in the hospital for about 11 days and I lost a stone and a half total during like, a two month period.
I remember when I got discharged from the hospital, I put on the jeans that I was wearing when I came into the hospital 11 days before and they just fell off me. Like, I just couldn't fit into them. The other thing that seems to be a pattern in my colitis is that every flare up happened around summer exams time, and one of the theories is that it can be triggered by stress. The last big flare up that I had, the one when I was 15, I remember taking my exams around the same time when I started to feel ill, and I remember having a double exam one day, so one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and I told my teachers what was happening, and so they let me go home in between the two exams and I just slept, so I like, went in for an exam, went home, napped, came back for the other one, and as soon as I'd finished that last exam, as soon as it was meant to be like, "Summer, summer, party, party," you know, "GCSE's over," or whatever, I just got ill. My body was just like, "And let's collapse." After the one when I was 15 that was really bad and the steroids weren't working, antibiotics weren't working, like nothing was working, they put me on what was then a really new treatment called Infliximab. You had to go in for like, three sessions.
The day after my first session on Infliximab, I was like, "I'm feeling so much better." I like, ate an actual plate of fish fingers. Hospital food, it's great. So I actually did have a mini flare up in November last year, 2016. It lasted maybe two weeks and I was terrified. I 100% knew that the symptoms were colitis, so the hospital that I'm registered at, there are specialist nurses. Patients get direct, like, access to them through their phone number, and so you can just call them up and be like, "I'm getting symptoms, what do I do?" They told me to double the dosage of the Asacol that I was on which is the medication that I just take constantly and you know, I'll be on meds for the rest of my life now.
I doubled my dosage and I changed my diet a little bit and it did not turn into a full-blown flare up. So grateful. Yeah, I don't know why it came around that time. Was I stressed in November? Maybe.
This is what I'm taking. This is Asacol mesalazine. I'm still taking the double dosage because I don't wanna risk that. I used to be on Azathioprine, which is an immunosuppressant. I'd been on Azathioprine for nine years, which meant my immune system has just been weak for nine years, and at the time when I first moved to London, I was living in a converted warehouse. My bedroom, like, had no windows to the outside world, and I was getting ill constantly. I was either always coming down with something, with something, or recovering from something, and I just stopped taking the immunosuppressants. When I next saw my specialist nurse, I was like, "Oh, I came off them," and she was like, "Oh okay, like, "you're doing fine, so that's okay.
"Like, you've had no symptoms, "but like, we would've weaned you off it, but no worries." I was like, "Oh, sorry." So I came off the Azathioprine in February 2016, and then my mini flare up came about in November 2016, so I don't know what that means, but also around that time when I had the flare up, I think I was just being really lazy and forgetting to take my pills, so take your pills, take your pills, Witton. One thing that I really do want to say is that yes, I may seem like, really happy and chirpy and fine talking about this in the video, but you know, I'm not currently experiencing symptoms. I'm not currently in a flare up. Having colitis is just shit. The amount that it disrupts and kind of like, ruins your life for however long of a period you experience a flare up, or if it's something that, you know, you continuously have to manage and live with, it's just, it's just not great. I just know that this is gonna be something that I have for the rest of my life, and I never know, you know, 100% how healthy I am, if it's gonna, you know, rear its ugly head again. Thank God for the NHS. Bloody love the NHS.
I get appointments at the hospital every six months. I've got direct access to the specialist nurses there if I ever have any problems, and every five years, I have a colonoscopy, and I don't have to pay for a thing. Thank you so much for watching this video.
Please give it a thumbs up if you enjoyed it and let me know in the comments if you have UC or Crohn's or IBS or any other preexisting condition, something that you just now have to live with. You know, nice to have a bit of a little support group goin' on in the comments. Don't forget to subscribe 'cause I make new videos every week and I'll see you soon. Bye.
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- So I have ulcerative colitis, which I've mentioned before in videos, but I don't think I've ever really gone in depth about it. I know that some of my viewers also have…By: Hannah Witton