Will McIntyre, a 20 year old swimmer, shares his inspiring story of courage and perseverance.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis* in February 2015. After an initial struggle, within about a month I was back swimming well and I achieved good AS results at the end of the year.
After a few minor flares, I suffered a major flare in February 2016. I was in a great deal of pain, excreted blood 10 times a day, and as a result became anaemic. After trying a few different treatments to no avail, I was put in hospital for a week. After this my symptoms began to reduce and I started recovering physically but was still weak (I lost nearly 2 stone). I struggled mentally, feeling as if I had been cut out and isolated from friends and school. The four months from February 2016 to the start of A-level exams, I only had four days at school. In hind sight, I’m fairly sure I was depressed and struggled to get myself back out into normality once I started to get better. It was an extremely difficult time for my family. My girlfriend had to take her A-Levels at the time and her grades were impacted as a result.
When I didn’t achieve the required grades for Loughborough University, I was offered place at Loughborough College. After much thought, and some encouragement from my girlfriend I declined the offer. We both knew I was capable of making the University course and that I would regret going to the college knowing I hadn’t given myself a proper chance of getting to the University. I chose to re-sit year 13. With the rest of my school year leaving for university, I had to study new content alone, with some teacher support, because of specification changes between the 2 school years.
My swimming was back to square one, I could barely manage a straight 200m in my first session back in the pool. To make matters harder my previous coach had retired, as had my training group.
After a few weeks of beginning to work towards getting to University and getting fit, I had another flare late in October, placing me in hospital again and having to under go a new treatment of 8 weekly IV infusions.
In the new year I knew I had to work much harder, after having more time off, if I wanted to make the whole bad situation worth it. After several months of solid work, I achieved the grades to get to Loughborough University and qualified for the English National Swimming Championships again in summer, which helped secure my place on the university swimming team.
Thankfully I haven’t had any major problems since starting my new treatment.
*Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)