For the last several days I have been in the throes of an ulcerative colitis flare.

I was diagnosed with this disease two months before I came to Ghana. I came anyway–not entirely AMA, but certainly with some skepticism. I travelled with all necessary drugs, some of which (namely Prednisone) I have just started taking.  It’s kept me home-bound for the last four days.

I mention it by name because part of what troubles me about the disease is it’s very private–it effects things we’re not supposed to talk about, namely the excretory system, and that’s part of what makes it lonely and difficult to deal with.  I’m hoping that someone searching the term will come across this blog entry, and I refer you also to the blog at; she’s been through much more with the disorder than I have and has written very eloquently about the experience.

Either way, it’s an isolating disease, even though it’s usually manageable.  And I can’t yet tell if that isolation is any different here.

Being sick in a foreign country, even a foreign country where people regularly use the phrase “runny stomach” with comfort and ease, with a disease much more common in the Western world is kind of strange and frustrating.  Amadou, Lucy and Joyce have all been very kind and sympathetic, but no one around here could possibly know what to do about it, and my American gastroenterologist has equally little to offer.  And I lack the resources to make chicken soup on my own, as I can’t kill or butcher a chicken on my own.  I’ve wanted to learn, and have watched Joyce do it several times, but couldn’t muster the guts.  (To coin a phrase.)

In most ways, I don’t suppose it’s any worse here than elsewhere, except for the lack of hugs. But I wouldn’t mind running water every now and again.

On prednisone in addition to mesalamine, I expect things to improve within the next forty-eight hours.  In the meantime, I am going to work today, because I am at loose ends wandering the hostel grounds with the need of being close to the washroom at all times.

The last time I had an ulcerative colitis flare, I was campaigning in New Mexico, far from home, for Barack Obama.  I pause now to wonder at how I managed to do it.  Perhaps I’m just better off in dry, rather than tropical, heat. I am hoping my students will prove as distracting as the Obama campaign, and that mind over matter will, well, matter. Sometimes it does.