Racing is my distraction from Colitis

20 October 2021

Craig was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 18 and didn't immediately know how to handle this lifelong disease.

Eventually, however, he learnt to open up and found joy in a distraction from the condition; racing.

In early 2000 I'd left high school and got myself a job when I started having a lot of diarrhoea. This was the first time I felt that something was wrong, so I headed off to the doctor.

I was told to see how I got on and went back another time after that but was told the same. I felt like I was lost in the system, and nobody really wanted to commit to doing anything.

As things continued to get worse, I got referred to a specialist.

Eventually, I went for two endoscopies, including a colonoscopy. As an 18-year-old having, any kind of procedure is a big deal. A camera being inserted, of all places, in my rectum was a massive embarrassment for me and only my family knew. I told none of my friends out of fear of me having some sort of nickname or them making fun of me.

Like a lot of 18-year-olds I thought I was indestructible!

Living with Colitis

When I came round they'd already told my mum it was Ulcerative Colitis. She had been more worried than I was because of the blood I was passing so it was a relief to have a name for it.

I didn't think it was that serious. I thought “yep no worries, give me some medicine and I'll be on my way”. That was my idea of going to the doctors at the time: You go in, they give you medicine, you get better and then you carry on. 

It did work like this at first and I kept reasonably well for 5-6 years thanks to mesalazine and short courses of steroids. At this point I thought I was fixed and didn't realise how lucky I'd been okay for so long.

It hasn’t happened since and I'm now 37.

Since then, I've had azathioprine and adalimumab which each worked for a while but recently have had less of an effect so I'm currently trying tofacitinib.

The good thing is I'm now comfortable talking about all this. At 18, there’s a stigma around having accidents and cameras inserted in you so I kind of buried my head in the sand and didn't talk about it. Until now.

When I was younger, I would attend circuit races at Brands Hatch with a friend or my parents. But I went mainly for the social side. I wouldn't say I had a massive interest in the motoring side of things.

And then I got my first car; a 1.0 Vauxhall Nova.

This car motivated me to have a hobby and I began to tinker with it and learn as much as I could. I put some fancy wheels and a body kit on it. I think The Fast And The Furious had come out which made things worse!

That car led to my love of racing which has become my distraction away from Colitis.

When I'm on a track day, I disappear into a world I call my happy place.

I'm concentrating that hard and having that much fun that all my other thoughts disappear. Nothing else matters. It's hard to explain but I kind of switch off from the world and go into a bubble that I feel completely safe in.

Sometimes if things feel too much I just go for a drive and immediately feel better. I’m so lucky to have found this distraction.

Having Colitis flares does impact this because I sometimes have to drop plans and not go anywhere in my car. That's when I find it hard. But, in that time, I'll usually try and get it ready for another track day as kind of a goal for when I'm feeling better.

I've also met some amazing people through the car world.

I’ve made some really good friends but none of them had heard of Crohn's or Colitis until they met me. So, after a recent bad flare and week-long hospital visit I came up with the idea of using my car to raise awareness.

I believe that people will talk about it even if they like it or hate it I don't care because it will be talked about either way. I think I'm pretty much known as "that guy with the purple-wheeled Civic" so now I'm hoping it'll be "that guy with the Crohn’s and Colitis livery trying to raise awareness"

The support I've had so far is mind-blowing!

I've been truly humbled by people wanting to help, from sending messages of encouragement to wanting to give me money to donate. I’ve come across a lot of contacts since doing this that have given me even more ideas to raise awareness through my Instagram.

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