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Traveling with Colitis

Self Portrait, Vetheuil, France, 2022.

Here is some Colitis wisdom you didn't ask for, but after seven years of it shaping who I am as a person and an artist I thought I should put it out there.

These past few weeks have been a little tough while trialing a new drug for my Ulcerative Colitis. Mostly it's the brain fog that gets to me, and wanting to nap after each bowel motion or each meal or almost always. The first four hours of my mornings are spent running back and forth to the toilet, examining my stools (or whatever they are), cleaning the toilet bowl, and refilling the hot water bottle. The murmur of cars and people chatting outside often overwhelmed me with a fear of missing out but I am simply just too exhausted to go out and my body needs rest.

Yes, Colitis is quite literally a pain in the butt, but somehow a blessing too. It's a little hard for me to think of the words I need to say- especially today when I have blood escaping from two orifices and the brain fog is at an all-time high. Somehow I feel compelled to write this blog now because I know I won't later.

This rather unattractive disease has really helped me find pleasure and happiness in the smallest things, like a blanket or sitting in the sun. I have learned to enjoy the bland low fiber foods I am allowed to eat- because I can still eat, I can still sit to eat, I can still taste, and I have my hands to eat with, and a nose to smell with, and adding salt really does wonders! It's really not all that bad! I am exhausted but that doesn't mean I can't experience bliss just with a hot water bottle, or a cup of tea. I have been quite blessed to live a life void of responsibility. I travel, study and draw and I am very thankful for that, but I can say for sure that the happiness I feel while making a cup of tea after 30 minutes on a toilet seat is exactly the same happiness I experience when I land in a new foreign city.

Medication suitcase

Colitis has taught me self-discipline I did not think I would ever achieve, being the free spirit I am. Of course, I slip up, who can say no to Klepe in Sarajevo, or Zaatar and labne in Amman, or a Pain au Chocolat in Paris, but generally speaking, I live a pretty routine day/life. Exercise, drawing, study, bland meals, and toilet. Socializing is becoming increasingly rare and I am ok with that. I can only see people on my terms. I avoid situations where I'm tempted to stay out late, to drink or eat foods that trigger me, or anything that might jeopardize the following day. I have learned to make the most out of my situation, and routine through self-discipline has kept me grounded. I used to associate self-discipline with pain but in fact, it has been the easiest route to a dopamine boost.

That's it for now. Drink water, go for nature walks and keep smiling. Love you all.

Vetheuil, France, 2022.

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