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.