years ago I was living the regular life of a 20-something. I enjoyed going out
with friends, late nights, clubbing, drinking, and eating rich foods. Then I
started noticing blood every time I went to the toilet, and the trips to the
bathroom became more frequent. After numerous blood tests and a colonoscopy, I
was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a disease with no known cause or cure.
Symptoms include swollen, inflamed and ulcerated intestines. I was told I would
have to be on medication for the rest of my life.
just wanted it to go away, so that I could carry on with my lifestyle, so I
took the medication and carried on as normal. For a while things were fine, but
then the disease would flare up and I would be struck with terrible abdominal
pain and bloody diarrhoea. Sometimes I would have to rush to the toilet 35
times in a day! For a number of years, that was how things were… I would have
times when everything was relatively normal, and then all of a sudden I would
be struck with a flare-up and life would become hell.
CHANGE OF LIFESTYLE
five years ago, after a very bad flare-up that saw my weight drop from 90kg to
62kg, I decided that I needed to make a change in my life. I changed my diet, I
became conscious about what I was putting into my body, I stopped the late
nights and I gave up alcohol. I then started running, initially a few 5km races
and then moved onto 10km, and before long I was hooked. I joined a running club
and soon was tackling half marathons.
became my party place, so while friends were coming home from clubs in the
early hours of the morning, I was getting up to run. It was so amazing to feel
the life force in my body again. It was amazing to go from being so ill that I
had to be helped in and out of the bath, to being able to go on 30km training
runs. Then in 2012 I managed to complete the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in a
time of 5:26, and I plan to be back in 2013 to try to better that time.
Hopefully 2014 will be the year that I tackle the Comrades Marathon.
are still numerous challenges I face with my illness and running, and also
everyday life. A big factor is nutrition, as my diet is so limited. At first it
was a nightmare to get used to, but your body soon adjusts and after some time
you find you no longer miss those things. My advice to anyone living with a
disease such as this is acceptance. Once you accept things are the way they are,
then all the sadness, anger and questions disappear. Once you accept life the
way that it is, then you can decide to be happy.
has had an amazing effect on my life, and has taught me so much about life. It
has taught me to be disciplined, it has taught me about sacrifice, it has
taught me about dedication, and it has taught me how to be strong. Running has
made me into a better person. I have learned to appreciate every single moment
of good health in my life that I have, and to make every single day count.
Running is my meditation time, my time to be with myself and to really connect
with my body. Sometimes when I am out running, I am so overcome with joy, it
feels like my body could explode into a million pieces.
is no known cure yet for Ulcerative Colitis, and for now it seems I will be on
chronic medication for the rest of my life, but I have amazing support from my
wife and family, as well as my friends. My plan for the future is to take it
one day at a time, as I never know when I could be hit with a flare-up and be
crippled with pain and bloody diarrhoea again. For now, I just want to rise to
meet each morning with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart. Having
good health at the moment is a blessing and being able to get out there and run
is an added bonus.