Learning to Manage My Ulcerative Colitis One Day at a Time

I opened a door into my world of living with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) several weeks ago. Throughout that time, I have been taking VSL#3, a serious probiotic medical food to help manage my UC symptoms. Along with taking this high-potency probiotic daily, I filmed weekly check-in videos. To be honest, taping myself was one of the hardest parts. Despite being an occasional model, it was hard for me to be in front of the camera. As for taking VSL#3 – that was easy! I took the unflavored packets every day for three weeks. I found that I enjoyed it best with a small glass of apple juice every afternoon because it tasted like juice.

As I mentioned, I filmed my journey with VSL#3 using my iPhone and JOBY tripod. I am not a selfie-taker and am a relatively private person, especially online to protect the privacy of my children and me. But I also am very honest and show my mood on my face, so when I am having a bad day, it shows. If I’m experiencing low energy because of my Ulcerative Colitis (UC), motherhood exhaustion, work stress, sickness and a big move (we moved into a new home the week I started taking the probiotic), you will see it in the video. Honesty is the best policy, and for those of you suffering from an autoimmune disease like me, I know you can relate to the ups and down of the disease. I may not look pretty every day, I may not always be a ray of sunshine, but I am just a woman doing the best I can, and trying to live a “normal” life with a cureless disease.

During this process I realized two things about myself.

The first is that my life is crazy. My disease is unpredictable and comes on like a freight train. Keeping up with my family is a full-time job. My business is a creative outlet that I am so passionate about, but it ebbs and flows, and creates a lot of stress and worry.

The second thing I learned is that I cannot control a lot of things, but I can control the way I care for myself. In the management of UC, a high-potency probiotic medical food like VSL#3 may help maintain remission when added to traditional therapies.

So, in addition to taking VSL#3 every day to strengthen my gut health, I need to control my stress levels with daily exercise, prioritize sleep, maintain a strict and healthy diet and avoid the foods that increase my chances of a flare-up. It is so easy to get down on myself, as anyone suffering from an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) like me can relate to. When I suffer physically, I also suffer mentally. Whether you are struggling with flare-ups every single day (as I was 15 years ago), or just occasionally (as I am now), suffer from low energy and a weak immune system, or live a high-stress life, one thing is for certain; You have to stay positive. I try to do this every single day. I try to tell myself: I can do it. I can get through the day and smile. And, I can ask for help when I need it (which is also hard for me to do).

My top three goals that I was hoping to get out of this experience in taking the VSL#3 were:

  1. To help manage my UC symptoms. VSL#3 is 10 times more potent than the average probiotic (average CFU =15.5 billion). The average probiotic (according to IRI data 09/12) contains about 4.3 billion CFU. This makes VSL#3 one of the most potent probiotics in the world. Adding this specific combination of probiotic bacteria is beneficial for an unhealthy gut like mine.
  2. To take the time for myself (hard to do as a mom, business owner, and wife) and to reflect on my serious health/digestive issues. If I don’t take care of myself, I might be sick every single day, and then I cannot take care of my family that I love more than anything. When I help me, I help my family. And when I don’t feel guilty about it, it’s even more amazing.
  3. To reach out to a community of other people suffering from UC, IBD, and/or IBS. According to a Harris Poll* conducted on behalf of VSL#3, amongst 607 U.S. adults ages 18+ who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), UC or ileal pouch; nearly half of them (46%) believe all probiotics are pretty much the same. And, roughly 2 in 5 IBS, UC, ileal pouch sufferers (41%) don’t understand which strain of probiotics is best to help treat their symptoms. I want to help someone, who may relate to me, who has been sick like me, and whose sickness can create a depression and hopelessness like mine has at one point. If I can help raise awareness of probiotic options, and relate to one reader on one of these blog posts, that would mean so much to me.

I accomplished number one and two. As far as number three, you will have to let me know! Email me at hello@jsorelle.com to share your story with me.

While VSL#3 has been helping my body physically, what has surprisingly helped my mind and spirit has been my VSL#3 Journey notebook. I have been taking time to reflect on my physical and mental state every day. How does my body affect my mood? How does it affect my energy? How do my meals affect my body and health state? How have my supplements and probiotics helped me manage my UC symptoms? How do I honestly feel about having to struggle every day with UC and CD?

I used to cry and say to myself, “Why me?” Why do I have to deal with such a serious digestive disease that affects every aspect of my life? Why do I have to have a higher probability of being diagnosed with Colon cancer later in life? Why do I have to live in fear daily of a debilitating flare-up? Why do I have a lower immune system than the rest of my family? Why do I have the weak body?

But now, with life experience, maturity and knowledge, I say to myself, “This is me.” I choose to be positive and not let my disease make me depressed, hopeless or negative. And even when my Endoscopy and Colonoscopy show an ugly and scary stream of ulcers in my digestive track, I am beautiful inside and out. Even when my body is weak and suffers from my digestive ulcers, I am strong. When I ask for help, it does not mean I am weak.

I am grateful for VSL#3 because it has helped add good bacteria in my gut. A more positive gut brings a more positive mind and spirit. I am also thankful that by taking VSL#3, it made me take time for myself to reflect on my own health.

Overall, I do feel better after this journey taking VSL#3 and I recommend it to people suffering from UC. I can’t say I’m less tired or stressed because of the probiotic. I’m a mom and I have a life, so those symptoms may never go away, but if I stay on this path of taking a serious probiotic like VSL#3, exercising, and being strict on my dairy-free and wheat-free diet every single day – I can gradually strengthen my body. I may be able to diminish the occasional flare-ups. I may be able to get better results on my next Upper and Lower GI’s (Endoscopy and Colonoscopy) with less ulcers.

There is no cure to my disease, but there are things that exist like VSL#3 that make life more manageable. I plan to continue to take VSL#3 daily. I am hopeful I feel better little by little, and get stronger day by day. I am hopeful on living my best life – not with UC and CD in the driver’s seat, but with UC and CD in the rear-view mirror.

If you suffer from serious digestive conditions like IBS, UC (like me) or ileal pouch, try VSL#3. VSL#3 is a high-potency medical food and must be used under medical supervision. For more information on VSL#3 please visit www.vsl3.com.

To purchase VSL#3, visit http://vsl3.com/pharmacy-locator/ to find a VSL#3 in local pharmacy near you or order it online at https://shop.vsl3.com/vsl3-c2.aspx.

Don’t’ forget to print out this VSL#3 Patient Savings Card and bring it to your pharmacist, along with a prescription from your healthcare provider, to save up to $80 each month on your purchase of VSL#3 DS and up to $40 a month on VSL#3 unflavored packets. Visit here for more information and talk with your healthcare provider today to take part in the savings program!

For additional giveaways and exclusive offers, join VSL#3 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vsl3probiotic. Be sure to check out their series of videos including helpful info about managing IBS & UC at www.youtube.com/user/VSL3Probiotic.

You can find delicious low-FODMAP, IBS-friendly recipes at http://www.vsl3.com/discover/ibs-friendly-recipes/

Reference 14 Sood et al., Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 11:1202-9 (2009)

*Harris Poll conducted the GI Issues Survey on behalf of VSL#3. The survey was administered online within the United States between April 1 – 7, 2015 among 607 adult’s ages 18+ who have been diagnosed with a digestive or gastrointestinal condition, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis, ileal pouch (“sufferers”).

VSL#3® is a high-potency probiotic medical food that’s clinically proven in the dietary management of IBS, ulcerative colitis, and ileal pouch. To learn more visit www.vsl3.com and LIKE the brand on Facebook.

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food for the dietary management of IBS, UC and ileal pouch and must be used under medical supervision. Please speak with your healthcare provider for any specific questions. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.





Comments

  1. Ray says:

    You are brave, courageous, and a leader to others suffering from this serious medical condition. Hopefully your examples of pushing through and dealing with this condition is an example to others on how to cope and improve their situation. Your immediate and extended family and friends are proud of you!!

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