Living with ulcerative colitis (UC) is not easy. And if you have this chronic illness, you know that talking about it with friends and family members can lead to awkward and sometimes embarrassing conversations.
We asked people living with UC to share the most memorable or irritating things people they know have said about their condition. Here’s a sampling of what those people said – and what they could have said instead.
UC affects everyone in different ways. Telling a friend that they don’t look sick can make them feel like you’re dismissing their illness. But asking how they’re doing shows you care.
Having UC is nothing more than having a stomach. UC is a long-term, chronic disease. Because of this, the symptoms and growths will not just go away or stop (no matter how many bananas they eat).
Although the exact cause of UC is not known, it is not something that is passed from one person to another. UC occurs when the mucous membranes of the colon and rectum become inflamed. This triggers abdominal pain, bloody stools and diarrhea.
UC is sometimes confused with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease, but these are all different disorders. Doing your own research on UC will help you gain insight into your friend’s condition.
Grabbing a bite to eat is easier said than done for someone with UC. While you may think that inviting a friend to lunch is a nice gesture, it could only result in additional stress. Asking what, where and when your friend would like to meet puts them in control.
Even if your friend showed no outward signs or symptoms yesterday, they may be staying in bed today. And even though you won’t be able to provide any relief to your friend, they’ll appreciate knowing you’re there for them.
Weight loss associated with UC is often precipitated by severe wasting. Your friend may experience a loss of appetite or may fear that eating certain foods will make their symptoms worse. In severe cases, this can lead to malnutrition. The point is that their weight loss may be related to their disorder and not something they want to highlight.
Driving a car, flying, and any other type of travel can be challenging for someone with UC. Be a supportive friend and know where the nearest bathroom is at all times.
Planning ahead is key. If you are going on a road trip, know the exact pit stops. If you’re traveling by air, find the airport gates and restrooms ahead of time. Although the overall trip might be a little longer, the same time with a friend will be well spent.
There is no magic diet for UC without medication. Figuring out what a person with UC can and cannot eat is a period of trial and error. Even so, one “safe” food can trigger inflammation over time. In general, it’s best to avoid discussing your friend’s eating habits, food preferences, or diet. If they want to talk about food, they’ll bring it up.
Comparing any disorder, disease or condition to another does not help anyone. Keep in mind that UC is a unique disorder.