Friday, 25 June 2010

The Medical Background

About Me
I am a very active 43 year old man.  I am an enthusiastic but untalented road cyclist who will happily tap out 50 - 100 mile rides when in shape.  I ran the London marathon in 3:09 back in 2001 (which would have been the peak of my running activity); I enjoy running but have run less and less as my colitis has hampered me.  I enjoy hill-walking, being active, kite-surfing on sunny holidays .. that sort of thing.

My business life is entrepreneurial and therfore quite all consuming of my time and energy: I have founder/executive/shareholder responsibilities with two strong UK dot coms and and an exciting international cycle clothing brand business Endura

The History of My Disease
I have suffered from Ulcerative Colitis for over 10 years now. This is a poorly understood disease which causes deterioration of the colon specifically and health generally. It is a chronic condition (once you have it, it never leaves you) and its impact on lifestyle ranges from inconveniece and irritation at best (like having diarrhea) through to being almost completely dibilitated at worst (being impossible to get out of bed).  There are plenty of excellent websites that deal with the various issues associated with Colitis, its symptoms and ongoing treatments.  I will not attempt to replicate any of that stufff here and will happily add links if anybody has suggestions for moe generally intersting sites on UC.

Colitis (literally of course 'swelling of the colon'; -itis = swelling) diagnosis was a blessing in disguise for me because as a chance side-effect of the ongoing monitoring non-Hodgkins Lymphoma was discovered and successfully treated by chemotherapy back in 2002. That coincidence is, as far as I am aware, the only link between my previous cancer and this treatment.

The standard ongoing treatment for colitis is to 'deal with it': manage it through careful diet and lifestyle and various medications. Some of these medications are not appropriate for me because of my previous cancer experience; others have proven to not be particularly helpful for me. Everyone's experience with Colitis differs so anybody reading this who is affected by the disease -- please do not assume that what I am going through is inevitable for a Colitis suffer (and by the way, if what I am dealing with is the worst case scenario, it's really not that bad).

The one medication that has consitently worked for me is Prednisolone (a corticosteroid). Unfortunately, long-term usage of these sorts of steroids carry their own complications; put bluntly they simply 'age you faster' -- bone density deterioration being one of the most directly measurable effects which I am already experiencing -- and there are well recorded 'mood swings' and general tetchiness 'issues' which make me hard(er) to be around. Bets are being placed on which of the less endearing elements of my current personality can be attributed to steroids; we will find out soon

As long as Prednisolone was a way of managing flare-ups it was considered an acceptable price to pay; unfortunately for me I had become dependent on Prednisolone to function at all (not taking prednisolone meant being very ill; bed ridden with toxic shock symptoms). Constant use of steroids such as these is 'considered unaccceptable' by those that should know; for what it's worth and based the demonstrable effect they were having on me, I agree

Another common reason for resorting to surgical solutions for Colitis is that it causes an increased colon cancer risk in some cases (although the nature of my Colitis meant this was not a major factor in my decision process).

So it is within this context that my decision to have surgery undertaken was made


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