Statice Text

Statice / Peptic Ulcers

Navigating Peptic Ulcers: A Personal Journey from Diagnosis to Recovery

Explore our patient's journey through peptic ulcers and how they recovered.

By Mahnoor Shaukat / Edited by Derek Chen

Updated September 5, 2023

The Disease

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is characterized by discontinuation in the inner lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract because of gastric acid secretion or pepsin. It may involve the lower esophagus, distal duodenum, or jejunum. Epigastric pain usually occurs within 15-30 minutes following a meal in patients with a gastric ulcer. Conversely, the pain with a duodenal ulcer tends to occur 2-3 hours after a meal. Today, testing for Helicobacter pylori is recommended in all patients with peptic ulcer disease. Endoscopy may be required in some patients to confirm the diagnosis, especially those with sinister symptoms. Today, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) based triple-drug therapy is usually enough to manage most conditions.

The Experience

Q: When were you diagnosed with this disease?
I was diagnosed with a helicobacter pylori-associated peptic ulcer, followed by an oral ulcer in 2021.

Q: What were you doing during this time (job, family, life plans)?
During that time, I was in 2nd year of Pharm D and was primarily focused on my studies, juggling coursework and exams. Being a medical student, I started noticing symptoms of feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal and told my family about it. They were supportive, despite being understandably concerned about my health. We consulted a doctor, and after some pathological tests, it was confirmed that I was suffering from peptic and oral ulcers.

Q: What was it like to have the disease? What was the treatment like?
A: Having peptic ulcers was quite challenging. I experienced a wide range of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea, which made it difficult to concentrate on my studies. The pain could be intense at times, affecting my overall well-being. To manage the disease, I underwent a treatment plan that involved triple drug therapy to reduce stomach acid production and promote healing, as well as making lifestyle changes such as avoiding spicy foods and caffeine. I started feeling nauseous, getting headaches, and vomiting during my treatment of triple-drug therapy. Because of these side effects, I had to take a sick leave from university, as I wasn't able to focus on anything. This treatment was prolonged for three weeks, but I kept feeling the metallic taste of medicines in my mouth for weeks, even after treatment.

Q: How did this disease affect your family, social, and work life?
A: Having a peptic ulcer significantly impacted my family, social, and work life. My family had to accommodate my dietary restrictions and provide emotional support during my treatment. Socially, I had to be cautious about what I ate or drank when going out with friends. Oftentimes, I had to decline specific invitations due to the potential triggers for my symptoms. As for my work life, the disease made it challenging to maintain consistent focus. I had to communicate with my professors and seek assignment extensions when necessary.

Q: How did your life plan change during the disease?
A: My life plans were undoubtedly affected by the disease. I had to reassess my priorities and adjust to accommodate my health needs. I realized that my well-being should come first. I had to accept that my academic progress might be slower than initially planned. It required me to be flexible and patient with myself, understanding that my health was a priority.

The Recovery

Q: How are you doing now? How does your life now compare to your life before your disease?
Fortunately, I am doing much better now. With the treatment and lifestyle changes, my symptoms have significantly improved. However, my life now is somewhat different compared to before the disease. I have learned to take better care of my physical and mental health. I prioritize self-care and stress management, balancing my studies and personal life. The experience has made me more resilient and appreciative of the little things in life.

Q: Has going through this disease helped you realize anything about something people take for granted?
Going through peptic ulcer disease made me realize how easily we can take our health for granted. Before, I had never truly appreciated the simple act of enjoying a meal without pain or discomfort. It made me aware of the importance of listening to my body and being mindful of how I treat it. Additionally, I gained a more profound empathy for others facing health challenges and a greater appreciation for the support and understanding of those around me.

Q: What advice would you give someone going through the same disease?
A: To someone going through peptic ulcer disease, I suggest prioritizing self-care and following the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider. Be patient with yourself and understand that healing takes time. Reach out to a support network, whether friends, family, or support groups, as their understanding and encouragement can make a significant difference. Lastly, take breaks, manage stress, and find joy in small victories. Your health and well-being are paramount, and with proper care, you can overcome the challenges posed by this disease.