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.