I have Ulcerative Colitis. I was diagnosed in January 2009 after a very unpleasant first semester of college, something I mistakenly attributed to dining hall food. By the time my colonoscopy rolled around in the last few weeks of Winter Break, I was visibly sick. I was paler than I ever knew my normally ghastly self could be, I was anemic, and I felt like I had no control over my body. (Fun fact: 3 days after my diagnosis was the first time I’d felt like myself in ages and I went out and got an impromptu cartillage piercing to reclaim myself, the most “rebellious” thing I’d ever done.) I’m very fortunate that I’ve found a medication that has helped me keep control over my body for the past 5 and a half years. My gastro and I call it my “miracle drug,” and I thank my lucky stars every day that the miracle hasn’t stopped working.
Last month, a young woman’s photo of herself in a bikini went viral. This wouldn’t normally be news, as it’s the summer and bikini pics are all the rage, but Bethany Townsend has Crohn’s Disease, as well as a colostomy bag. Bethany contributed to a growing revolution, as well as a growing campaign called #GetYourBellyOut. The campaign even gained notoriety on the popular website Buzzfeed.
As someone who has Ulcerative Colitis, the thought of a colostomy bag freaks me out. While most of the comments on the internet from people with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis have been positive and full of gratitude, seeing Bethany’s picture, as well as trending topic of my worst nightmare, gave me the heebie jeevies. A colostomy bag is my worst nightmare. Seeing colostomy bag after colostomy bag in the news and appearing in my newsfeed is what I imagine it’s like for someone with arachnophobia around Halloween, or Ron Weasley in general. It’s just unnerving to see your worst nightmare flaunted in front of you.
So, no, I will not be getting my (luckily colostomy free) belly out. I’ll be hiding in the corner and being thankful that my miracle drug is still a miracle.