You are not alone with ulcerative colitis (UC). Hear what people just like you have to say about their personal experiences with this disease and how they are managing now.
Leslie’s full video (5:21)VIEW TRANSCRIPT HIDE TRANSCRIPT
(Leslie R): My name is Leslie Rhodenhizer, I'm 35 years old, and I'm a stay-at-home mom.
I have three beautiful children, 6, 8, and 2. I'm from Philadelphia. I went to Temple University and got a degree in education.
I'm a student at the moment, going to graduate school, and I'm the president of our homeowner's association, so along with swimming lessons and soccer games and concerts and things like that, I keep myself pretty busy.
When I first started experiencing UC symptoms, I wasn't too concerned. I just assumed that it was some sort of infection or something that would be easily taken care of with antibiotics. I never dreamed that it would be something that I would live with forever.
Some of the first symptoms that I experienced were blood in the stool, frequent trips to the bathroom, urgency.
I was experiencing symptoms for several months before I went to the doctor. By the time I finally decided to go, I was running to the bathroom several times a day and trying to do my work in college and having to leave the classroom multiple times. It was getting difficult. It was getting worrisome. It was getting worse. So I decided it was time to do something about it.
Before I started receiving treatment, it was difficult. I was in school living in a dorm. Bathrooms were way at the end of the hallway. I was spending a lot of time in class, and it was hard. I was often rushing to get out of where I was to find the closest bathroom and that was difficult to concentrate and get my work done and sit through class, and I couldn't go anywhere without worrying that there was going to be a bathroom close by. I couldn't go out to eat because as soon as I did, I knew I would have to leave the table, or I would go out to eat but I wouldn't eat anything, so it was a very quick onset of symptoms.
I was diagnosed with UC when I was 22 years old. I was in my senior year of college, about to start student teaching, and I needed to get it under control so that I could finish up with my teaching and go on.
Since I was diagnosed with UC, I've come to learn a lot. I had never heard of it at the time, but I was diagnosed. My mom was joking with me just last night saying that after that first colonoscopy, I took a nap and woke up and asked her, "What did the doctor say that I had again?" I had never heard of it, but since that time I've come to learn a lot.
After I was diagnosed, I definitely had a lot of questions.
The word chronic was something I never expected to hear. I didn't know what my life was going to be like. I was very anxious to know if I would still be able to go forward with my teaching career, or just so many things were going through my mind, that I just wasn't sure what my life was going to be like, knowing that I would have to manage a disease at a – starting at a young age.
My family and friends were very supportive after my diagnosis. I am fortunate enough to have a whole family full of nurses, my mom, my grandmother, aunts, so most of them were familiar with UC.
My family, they were a huge support group. I think being in the medical field is a blessing and sometimes not so much. I think they were cautious to overstep and you know, let me do my own research and you know, come to terms with the disease and speak with my doctor. I think they wanted to not try and diagnose anything, but they were super supportive and understanding.
Being a mom with UC is difficult, especially when my children were young. I've had times when I have had all three of them out somewhere with me, and I just have to say quickly it's time to go. It's challenging. It's easier now that my children are getting a little bit older and can help me. Being a wife with UC has its challenges as well. When I'm flaring up I tend to get exhausted very easily, and as soon as my children are in bed I'm in bed right behind them.