Posts tagged with "health"

Feeling My Age

So cur­rently it’s:

7:00am — Two mesalamine pills for my col­i­tis and two snorts of cor­ti­cos­teroid for my hayfever
3:00am — Two mesalamine pills for my col­i­tis
7:00pm — Two snorts of cor­ti­cos­teroid for my hayfever
Dinner — One mul­ti­vi­t­a­min to make up for the foods I can’t eat due to col­i­tis
11:00pm — Two mesalamine pills for my col­i­tis and 20mg of cet­i­rizine hydrochlo­ride for my hayfever

I expect to be wear­ing adult dia­pers and using a walker any day now.

Conflicting Medical Advice

One of the drugs I’ve been pre­scribed for my col­i­tis, Asacol, is delay-released, which means it has a spe­cial coat­ing that makes it travel through the stom­ach, and absorbed only in the colon. This spe­cific brand is released in the left and end of the colon, which is where my col­i­tis is. I often get con­flict­ing advice about how to take the drug:

  • The instruc­tions that came with the med­ica­tion say it can be taken with or with­out food
  • The first phar­ma­cist told me to wait an hour after eat­ing before tak­ing the pills
  • The sec­ond phar­ma­cist told me I didn’t need to wait and could have it with food and other medications
  • The third phar­ma­cist told me that delayed release drugs should be taken on an empty stom­ach, and may have con­flicts with other drugs
  • My gas­troin­testi­nal spe­cial­ist told me I could take it with food

It’s gen­er­ally taken that the doctor’s advice takes prece­dence over any­thing else. But as a per­son who works in the med­ical indus­try, where doc­tors are fre­quently revealed to be incom­pe­tent, I know that not all of them know what they’re talk­ing about.

Scary, for an indus­try in which we put so much blind faith. Who am I sup­posed to believe?

Being Strong For My Grandmother

The can­cer has spread to her bones and sev­eral major organs now. We asked the doc­tor not to tell her, but we can’t do any­thing against his moral oblig­a­tion to inform the patient. Either way, she doesn’t know how seri­ous it is, whether it’s from shock and denial, or mem­ory loss.

But she’s awake, and aware, and feel­ing no pain, which is good enough for me. The most we can do now is to try to make the rest of her life as enjoy­able as possible.

She thinks she’s going to be fine. Keeps telling me that she’ll take me to a nearby park when she’s bet­ter. As much as it hurts me to know this won’t be pos­si­ble any­more, it’s reliev­ing to know she’s so obliv­i­ous. We don’t let our­selves cry around her, for fear that she may real­ize how bad it is.

Her face is more sal­low, her fin­gers and legs ema­ci­ated, but she still has her thick, black hair1. Aside from a dis­tended stom­ach, it’s hard to tell that she has such a grim prognosis.

But by far the hard­est part is hav­ing to cod­dle her like a child to take her med­ica­tion. Telling her she’s a good girl if she swal­lows her pills and reward­ing her with ice-cream. That we’re only strict because we care about her. It tears me in half when she gives such a painful look of dis­taste with every pill we hand her, 18 a day.

She used to be so strong. Now we have to be strong for her.

  1. I used to have even more”, she tells me. []

My First Colonoscopy

Warning: This may be a lit­tle too much infor­ma­tion for some. I find it funny that almost a year ago, Tiana crowned her­self the win­ner of our inad­ver­tent com­pe­ti­tion on gross-out bod­ily func­tion blog­ging, and specif­i­cally men­tioned that to top her period-blogging I would need to do a live blog­ging of a colonoscopy. I was too sedated to do a live blog­ging, so this is a night-of blogging.

Bishop takes rook-pawn, Tiana. Your move.

Before

The first (overnight) lax­a­tive is to clean out your colon of all solid wastes. It doesn’t kick in overnight, it starts work­ing in about an hour, which means you aren’t going to get much sleep.

The sec­ond lax­a­tive (mag­ne­sium cit­rate) makes your intes­tine absorb water through osmo­sis, so that you start pass­ing liq­uid for a more thor­ough clean­ing. The mag­ne­sium cit­rate wasn’t as bad tast­ing as I expected (sort of a chem­i­cally sour lemon­ade), but that, along with hav­ing to drink ten glasses of water to make it effec­tive, did make me slightly nauseous.

When liq­uid comes out of you from this end, it doesn’t make a nice con­tained splosh. No, it goes every­where. I lost track of how many times I went to the bath­room, and used almost two rolls of toi­let paper in two days. And when you wipe this many times, even three-ply, ultra-soft toi­let paper feels like it’s coated in dia­mond dust and dipped in acid.

I was able to get through a decent chunk of my novel, The Last Light of the Sun, and learned from GQ how to “Work That Tan”, why Shia LaBeouf is the upcom­ing bad boy of Hollywood, and that Rolex makes a $37,500 nau­ti­cal watch.

You really don’t feel like doing any­thing but lie around when going through this. As such, I was able to fin­ish God of War 2, and unlocked the awe­some Cod of War cos­tume, which still makes me laugh every time a Greek sol­dier addresses Kratos as “My lord!” when he’s wear­ing it.

During

Every per­son I spoke to who had a colonoscopy said that it was a breeze. Not so for me.

Pretty much as soon as they injected the seda­tive into my IV, I passed out, only to be awoken by bouts of agony. I’d say that for the entire pro­ce­dure I was only con­scious for about two min­utes in total, but those two min­utes were not fun. I don’t think I would have woken up if it wasn’t for the pain.

Part of the dis­com­fort is sup­posed to come from inject­ing air into the colon so they can bet­ter see the colon. I couldn’t tell if it was that, the instru­ment they used to do it, or the endo­scope itself snaking into my colon, but I felt a sharp pres­sure on both the anal cav­ity, and inside the colon.

I remem­ber scream­ing through grit­ted teeth, grab­bing the han­dles of the bed, swear­ing, and think­ing that I should have bet­ter man­ners before pass­ing out again.

At one point, some­one also had to hold me down, and uttered com­fort­ing words, but I couldn’t make out what he said.

After

Since the colon is inflated with air, I was warned that I’d be pass­ing gas for a while after the pro­ce­dure. This is true, and very invol­un­tary.

I have severe ulcer­i­tive col­i­tis, which is an inflam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease. The doc­tor showed me pic­tures of my colon; the right side is fine, but the left side is so inflamed that it’s black, red, and bleed­ing. All the infor­ma­tion is being sent to another spe­cial­ist, whom I’m very glad to be able to see soon.

I was pretty groggy for a while after, par­tially because I hadn’t eaten in two days, and par­tially because of the seda­tive. Every time I stood up, I felt like I was going to pass out.

Right now, I have to take 12 pills a day, one of them being pred­nisone, a steroid to sup­press the over­ac­tive immune sys­tem responses, the other being mesalamine, an anti-inflammitory drug to bring the swelling under con­trol. These drugs are scary. The side effects are pretty bad, but the doc­tor judged the ben­e­fits to out­weigh the poten­tial risks.

I may have to take pills (con­sid­ered “main­te­nance med­ica­tions” to pre­vent relapse) for the rest of my life. While I feel this low­ers my qual­ity of life, it’s much bet­ter than deal­ing with the flare-ups and side effects of col­i­tis. Aside from that, the only cure is to have part of my colon removed in surgery, which I really don’t want to do.

The diag­no­sis of hav­ing a chronic diges­tive dis­ease is not great, but I’m very relieved to have an expla­na­tion of the mys­tery pains, along with a treat­ment plan.

I hate, hate, hate being alone when I’m feel­ing sick. My stom­ach still feels very funny and unset­tled. So Julie came over last night to hang out a bit and to take my mind off every­thing, and watch some Robson Arms.