|Image Credit; Me and IBD|
For those who are unaware Crohn's and Colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) which should not be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is a long term chronic condition usually diagnosed in young people between the ages of 15 and 30. There is no cure and treatment can vary depending on severity, and these include use of steroid medications to prevent flare ups, to surgery for more serious situations. As I said there is no cure and if left unchecked it can be life threatening. The condition of colitis is completely unpredictable and can go into remission for months (even years) at a time before coming back twice as painful. It is not certain what triggers the onset of colitis, although diet and genetics are thought to be a factor, however IBDs, especially colitis are known to be autoimmune conditions. Records state over 240,000 people have been diagnosed with crohn's and colitis many of them children, in their teens and adults in their early twenties.
I know at least two people diagnosed with this terrible condition; an old friend and a close member of my family. Colitis is extremely painful and debilitating. Its symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pains, frequent need to use the toilet and weight loss, and affects greatly the sufferer's quality of life. I remembered when my close family member had a colonoscopy and was told that his colon was so inflamed that it resembled that of a sun burn. Colitis is the proverbial "gift that keeps on giving" as it also brings about anaemia, fatigue and tiredness, and those who suffer with it are at greater risk of bowel cancer and so regular checks are carried out.
Of all the research charities, crohn's and colitis is probably one of the most underfunded and with the coalition government carrying on with their hatchet job of the NHS and funding research for medical advances, the need for more funds to continue the work is greater than ever. To raise money for the charity I decided to participate in the Great South Run to be held on the weekend of the 26th and 27th October in Portsmouth. As a runner I am driven by the challenge to run faster, longer. It is a joy to be running regularly again and I have benefited physically as well as mentally from the rigorous challenges I set myself. However we all need motivation to help push those limits and this year I have found mine.
There will be those who doubt I can do this and others who worry about the health implications after all, I am 42 years old and still carry a little more extra poundage than perhaps I should. However I have met head on and overcome the challenges of the 10K beating my PB every time and getting trimmer each year. Through the races and the training I have learnt a lot about how my body performs under pressure and always adopt a slow and steady approach, as opposed to an all out display of macho bravado to the fanfare of a Rocky montage. A steely determination to take my body to new limits but with a sensible approach will hold me in good stead come the big day. Yes I am a bit bonkers but it is all for a good cause as there is nothing more heartbreaking than to have someone close to you suffering from this terrible bowel disease for which there is no cure, is deeply misunderstood, and for some reason just doesn't seem to garner as much support as is deserved.