When I was 24 years old, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I spent the next 15 years battling the disease and the accompanying cramps, rectal bleeding, diarrhea and fatigue. Worse, was feeling chained to bathrooms. If I wasn’t assured of quick restroom access, I wouldn’t participate. It wasn’t worth the risk of an embarrassing accident.
As a result, the boundaries around my life began to close in. Travel, one of my long-time passions, ceased. Outings and activities with my family diminished. And exercise? I could barely make it through some days, let alone have the energy for any type of physical activity.
I participated in a clinical trial testing new medications. Thanks to those who funded the trial, the extensive medical tests and exams I underwent during the trial were cost-free for me. While I proved unresponsive to the medicines used in the trial, my hope is that what was learned from my participation helped further the advancement of effective treatments for ulcerative colitis.
Learn why Laura Hull participates in clinical trials to help advance treatments for ulcerative colitis in her video below.
At the age of 39, I made the decision to have my colon removed. The surgery gave me a second chance at life. Instead of living with restrictions, hemmed in by what I was unable to do, I relished seeing the prior boundaries of what I was capable of doing come crashing down.
I am thankful for those who participated in clinical trials in the years prior to my diagnosis, as they paved the way for the excellent medical treatment I received. I stood on the shoulders of those who had gone before me in the search for treatments. I am thankful to have played a small part in developing better treatments for those with ulcerative colitis. It is a horrible disease. Many of those it affects suffer in silence, embarrassed to talk about the pain and problems of living with ulcerative colitis.
No one should have to make the choice to have an organ removed from their body. Effective, kinder medical treatments for diseases must be found. While that treatment never materialized for me, through continued clinical research, I hope the stories for others will have a different ending. I am grateful to clinical researchers like PPD for their continued support of the search for treatments for debilitating diseases.