Shawn's Story

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis almost seven years ago. In 2010, I was attempting to enjoy my senior year of high school and third year playing tennis. I'd experienced symptoms of UC for years but remained in denial due to fear and embarrassment. After a week or two in the hospital on a high dose of IV steroids, liquids, painkillers, and even a blood transfusion, my diagnosis was confirmed.

For years after being diagnosed I continued to suffer and took steroids to suppress my immune system. This was the only treatment option I was aware of. I constantly worried about having an accident. Severe blood loss caused extreme fatigue at all times. There was no such thing as "rest;" every time I lay down, it was right back to the bathroom. Once again, my illness spiraled out of control.

In 2013, I developed a bad infection while on steroids, which led to my first surgery. After that incident I was determined to live better. I was so tired of being embarrassed and isolated. I didn't have a life; I had colitis. I spent the next year with my current GI doctor. We went through treatment after treatment - pills, injections, infusions, the works. All attempts failed. My final options were surgery or steroids. I chose surgery.

From December 2014 - mid 2015, I lived with a temporary ileostomy while I underwent three surgeries to remove my colon and create an ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, or j-pouch. The surgeries were hard as was learning to adjust to life with an ostomy, but I stayed strong. I now live a life I never knew was possible - a life with very little colitis symptoms. Through my experiences, my biggest lesson learned is to never give up. There were so many nights when I sat in bed and cried, on someone's toilet crying, in the hospital crying. Wanting it all to be over, this life to be over. - But because I went through it and learned from it, I am a much stronger person.