“Bringing hope to others” – Paul’s story

My name is Paul. I’m 38 and my wife and I have two beautiful children. In 2019 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I’d never heard of it and I had no idea what it could do. I considered myself fit and healthy and had never experienced any health issues.

In 2020, the symptoms began to give me some trouble and I was spending more time with my specialist trying new medications. When I was out and working, I became really good at faking being well. Nobody saw this invisible sickness except my immediate family, who endured and supported me while I experienced years of flare ups and time in bed.

In 2022 I just couldn’t get on top of my flare up. I kept frequenting the toilet, and was in a lot of discomfort. Scans confirmed that my ulcerative colitis was severe. I was trying a new biologic drug and hoping for relief. I kept telling myself it wasn’t that bad and that I had to toughen up. Terrible advice! It wasn’t until I messaged a friend one night who also suffers from UC that I realised I needed to be hospitalised. During three separate stays in hospital, we tried to do everything possible to keep my colon. We kept the faith, sought support from friends and family and tried all the best medications out there.

After receiving strong advice from the surgeon and after months of hospital stays away from my wife and small children, we decided to book in the surgery. Lucky too, as my sick colon ruptured moments after it was removed. One year and three major surgeries later, I am truly thankful to be alive. I no longer feel sick and I finally feel myself again. I’m able to play with my kids again and do things together as a family.

My life was on pause for a while and the hardest part was feeling like I had absolutely no control. It was the most challenging thing I’ve been through but, as a family, we’ve come out the other side stronger, wiser and with a greater sense of gratitude. It’s not the story I would have chosen but I know that my story has the power to bring hope to others. This was my motivation for putting myself out there. I’m thankful for this community and for all those who have inspired me through my battle.

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