Month: February 2015

The Introduction: Part Two

Dear intestines, this has all been one very funny joke, but I’d appreciate if you’d stop now.

I have a correction: they weren’t my sheets; they were my girlfriend’s.

For the first time, another person, aside from a doctor, had witnessed my disease firsthand. It was embarrassing, to say the least.

Thankfully, we had been dating for around two years before this happened, so we were pretty comfortable with each other, our faults and imperfections. I would be able to talk about it—without going into too much detail, of course—and open up to her.

  • I think having someone, whether it’s a significant other, family member or good friend, to talk about your inflammatory bowel disease with is one key aspect on the road to recovery. Not many people will understand, but having at least one person helps, for sure. And, hey, if they don’t mind talking about your bloody diarrhea, well, they just might be a keeper!

On the same token, ulcerative colitis was still very foreign to me at this point, so, really, I couldn’t say too much about it. Both she and I still had much to learn.

  • Indeed, it was just the beginning.

So, my next step was to schedule another appointment with my GI, while hers was to, well, wash those sheets.

At my appointment, I was prescribed more mesalamine, this time in an oral form and an enema. This meant still administering nighty; however, it was in liquid form (think nasal spray), as well as swallowing four horse pills every morning.

That night, I awkwardly sprawled on the bathroom floor and completed my first dose of the enema. The next morning, I took my first dose of the pills.

A few hours later, I was in the emergency room.

I was experiencing intense stomach pains that I originally thought resting would assuage. After some prodding by that very same girlfriend to seek out medical help, she drove me to the emergency room to get checked out.

There, my symptoms got worse, and more symptoms came. I was in the most pain than, to this day, I have ever experienced and some pretty gross things were happening on both ends of my body, at the same time… in the middle of the hallway…

“I’m sorry,” I kept repeating. I truly meant it, but I couldn’t control what my body was experiencing. While writhing in pain, I got pricked for a blood test. The nurse missed the first time and blood started seeping from my arm. I didn’t care, to be honest. I was delirious.

I remember my girlfriend with tears in her eyes and my mother also doing her best to remain calm—while calming me down in the process.

  • Mothers are good like that. Mine is, at least. We hadn’t necessarily been getting along the best, but when family needs family, they’re always there for you. I remember her voice comforting me, her hand gripping my hand and the peace she brought in that intense moment. A mother’s love is unrelenting and unconditional, and that surely comes in handy during these moments. Again, sometimes, it’s just nice to know someone cares.

The morpheme would keep my pain at bay for a brief moment. During one of those lulls, I remember my doctor explaining I had pancreatitis, likely from the new medicines I was taking. Like ulcerative colitis, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but, supposedly, it’s pretty serious.

  • A few days later, I was watching TV and one of those awful medicine ads came on. On the long list of possible side effects of this particular medicine was pancreatitis, “which could be fatal,” according to the commercial. My jaw dropped out of place and my eyes bulged from their sockets as I thought, “Holy crap…”

Thankfully, I survived that night, plus another one or two after being admitted into the hospital. Once I was home, I happily kissed mesalamine goodbye forever.

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The Introduction: Part One

Dear intestines, what is it that you’ve done to me?

It all started with hemorrhoids.

Or so I thought.

There’s nothing glamorous about finding blood in your stool, that’s for sure. It could be from anything as minor as a cut or as serious as rectal cancer. However, whatever it’s cause, it’s never quite comforting to see–especially at first.

When I first saw it, I was hoping it was the former rather than the latter. Nevertheless, it was the first sure sign of something wrong. On top of that, I kept on feeling the urge to go, but, once I ran from class to the bathroom, nothing happened.

After letting this go on for months, I started losing my appetite, losing weight and losing energy. So, finally, I gave in, saw a doctor and let her shove some sort of doohickey up my behind.

The doohickey told her it was hemorrhoids. That explained the bleeding, sure, but why the urge to go so often, and to no avail?

I never got a clear answer, but we discussed certain anxieties of mine and, well, going to the bathroom in public was one of them. She told me how living in her dorm made her constipated for that same reason.

I settled with that answer. Partially because it made sense. Partially because it merely was an answer.

So, I swallowed my pride, walked through the aisles of my local grocery store, put my tail between my legs and picked up a tube of Preparation H. I administered that every day, thinking it would be the magical remedy I was hoping for.

But, boy, was I wrong.

The bleeding continued, the cramping got worse and the urges still pestered me throughout the day.

And it was starting to get old.

It not only affected my body, but my mind as well. I would lose focus, concentration and, to an extent, determination.

My mind would cloud with self-conscious thoughts about my stomach growling; I would cough or sniff or shuffle in my seat to try and mask the sound when it decided to break its silence. I would worry more about running to the bathroom than the test I was taking in front of me. It was draining me physically and mentally.

It’s fair to say the next step was to go to a specialist: a gastroenterologist (GI).

Unfortunately, he had another medical doohickey to see what was wrong down there; Fortunately, I wasn’t awake for that one. Now, before that previous sentence can be misconstrued one way or another, I’ll say I had a colonoscopy.

After I woke up from the procedure—yes, that’s what it’s officially labeled—my GI told me had proctitis, a limited form of ulcerative colitis inflaming the lining of the rectum.

I was given mesalamine, the generic name for medicines intended to treat inflammation. It comes in an oral form, suppository and enema—the latter two being administered rectally.

At first, I was given a suppository. As you could imagine, it wasn’t too enjoyable inserting it in every night, but it stayed inside as it melted and soothed the inflamed spots as I slept. I noticed a difference in the beginning, with less blood and less cramping.

  • With any form of ulcerative colitis–or any inflammatory bowel disease, for that matter–getting comfortable with that particular area of your body (IT’S YOUR BUTT, JUST SAY IT! Repeat after me… “Butt”) is an integral first step of coming to grips with your newly diagnosed condition. It might be embarrassing; it might be dirty and smelly; but it’s all necessary to live with, treat and hopefully relinquish this disease once and for all… but, most importantly, it’ll all be OK (Repeat after me… “It’ll all be OK”).

Not after long, however, I would start to wake up with some leakage soaked through my sheets. I figured it was a fluke—until it happened again.