Image description
Clark Bray
Noodle Expert Member

August 03, 2020

Making My Mess My Message

I have no large intestine. I am a happy and functional millennial, but I am missing one of the body’s major organs.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with a bad case of ulcerative colitis. I remember fainting in chemistry class convinced me I was sick, but it wasn’t until I was chained to an IV in my local hospital that I understood its severity.

I had to have my large intestine removed to save my life. Medications and pills did not eliminate my symptoms, so surgery was my only alternative.

I am so grateful I had the surgery and that now I am healthy. Surviving the disease taught me resilience, which is especially useful now as I navigate the rocky world of COVID-19.

I am sad that my doctors did nothing to address the mental trauma of my experience. Not so much anymore for myself, as I am fortunate to have sought out some excellent therapy throughout the decade since my diagnosis. I am sad that others are going through, and will go through, the same roller coaster ride that is ulcerative colitis, and will not be automatically provided with mental health care.

I know we do the best we can with the healthcare at our disposal. I know that hospitals have limited resources, especially in disadvantaged areas. But we can do more, and I want to contribute.

As I understand it, a master’s in social work is what I need to spark the change I want. I want to be the person in the hospital room ready to counsel and process with the scared teenager waking up from invasive surgery. I want to help people understand how their chronic illnesses affect not only their bodies, but their minds. I want mental health care to be an inherent aspect of hospital protocol.

I know medical social workers are doing this work. I know there are others like me, and I am so excited to join them.

I heard the phrase make your mess your message years ago. A cancer survivor coined it. Well, here is an ulcerative colitis survivor who would like to use it too.

My colitis is my mess and medical social work is my message.

Want to become a Noodle contributor? Email: