WNYT.com

Surviving Ulcerative Colitis

Posted at: 07/02/2013 5:40 PM
Updated at: 07/02/2013 6:30 PM
By: Benita Zahn



A 28 Gage Charles has the looks and voice of a leading man.

But a few years ago he was struggling to survive.

He was battling ulcerative colitis: a chronic, disease that affects the large intestine causing diarrhea.

 "Your life is a road map to the rest room " says the lanky performer.

But a bathroom problem is not dinner conversation so at 18, Gage was loath to talk about his condition with his parents and then they were slow to understand the severe nature of his illness.

Making matters worse, as Gage explains, his first doctor didn't treat the disease aggressively and U.C. Can spread to the entire length of the large intestine. .

By the time Gage found another physician, four years after his diagnosis, no food was staying in and this 6 foot one Texan was down to 119 pounds.

"He looked at my parents and said if we don't do something now, he will die" says Gage.

Doing something meant surgery to remove his entire large intestine.

" I was actually ok with doing it. I was ready for a change."

Ever so slowly he began to regain his health. He returned to college and set out to live his dream of becoming a singer.

But Gage learned that finding his voice would entail different lessons because of his surgery.

" The diaphragm, when it released it pushes against he large intestines. My large intestine isn't there to push against. So it's a matter of , I just have to feel that it's happening in the muscles around, like .. The abdominal muscles themselves. "

When you hear him perform you know he figured it out.

This is his second season at the venerable Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake, a springboard for young singers to opera and musical theater companies, nationwide.

While Gage has his sites set on one of those stages he knows he's got another role to play - to encourage other young people who develop the symptoms of ulcerative colitis to educate themselves and be proactive.

" Don't be afraid to say something."

The local chapter of the Crohn's and colitis foundation can be reached at upstateny@ccfa.org

The Seagle Music Colony - http://seaglecolony.org/Welcome