Posts tagged with "sickness"

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.

Traces of Me

I’m just com­ing off a mod­er­ate cold I’ve had for the last week. All the clas­sic symp­toms — run­ny, stuffy nose, con­ges­tion, slight headache, yel­low phlegm — but odd­ly enough, bare­ly a hint sore throat. It’s been unpleas­ant to say the least.

A lit­tle while ago, Tiana wrote “I look in the bowl after to see how impres­sive it was. I’m pret­ty sure you do too”.

This cold has made me real­ize that I not only look in the bowl (I’m sure Freud would diag­nose us as being fix­at­ed in the anal stage of psy­cho­sex­u­al devel­op­ment), but I open my Kleenex after blow­ing in it as well, to check for dis­coloured mucus, phlegm, blood, or bits of brain that may have escaped through my nose.

The Everyday Sickness Of Stress

Thumbnail: Card by Elle

I called in sick again today, but this time I did­n’t go in.

In Psych 101, you learn that a group of stu­dents are sprayed in the face with the cold bac­te­ria dur­ing their exams, while a con­trol group is sprayed dur­ing the reg­u­lar school year. The result is that the stu­dents going through their finals are more than twice as like­ly to get sick. Stress low­ers the immune sys­tem, and the les­son here is that there’s a direct con­nec­tion between the health of the mind and the body.

Knowing this isn’t enough to pre­vent it. Sometimes it all adds up, and you get worn down.

Little sur­pris­es come in the form of friends offer­ing to pick things up from the phar­ma­cy, peo­ple I’ve nev­er even spo­ken to ask­ing if I’m okay, or care pack­ages from ex-girl­friends, con­sist­ing of choco­late bars, vit­a­min C drops, African peanut soup, a DVD of BMW shorts, and even a get-well-soon card.

Still Being Tested

It’s been rough going the last few weeks. Every day is a con­flict between doing some­thing relax­ing, doing the chores that will make me feel com­fort­able, or going to bed. Even now I can’t relax. I clean my mir­rors of fin­ger­prints in between sen­tences, or brush Dolly of excess fur as she force­ful­ly nudges my wrists in mirth, and only con­tin­ue writ­ing when I come up with the next idea.

A sore throat and weary body had me call­ing in sick today (I sus­pect that I caught some­thing from pet­ting the same cat as Karen yes­ter­day, who’s seems sick as a dog), although I end­ed up going in and work­ing six hours any­way. All the extra cur­ric­u­lar things are slow­ly wear­ing me down. There’s the two side-busi­ness­es, the new effort of learn­ing as much as I can about my new Canon Rebel XT by pho­tograph­ing every­thing, and the blog­ging. I also start­ed table ten­nis again, although I’m not sure how often I can attend, tak­ing four hours out of a week­day. The one reprieve is a LAN par­ty I’ve had planned since September that starts tomor­row, and even though it’ll be a good week­end of gam­ing, it’ll still mean lit­tle rest. Normally I’m planned, pre­pared, and prac­ticed for a LAN, but this time it’ll all be impro­vised.

I’m being test­ed, and even though I know that I’ll get through this, it’s still dif­fi­cult. I’m forced to deal with peo­ple I’ve avoid­ed my entire life. I’m push­ing myself past the lim­its of any­thing I’ve ever gone through. To be hon­est, it’s a lit­tle eas­i­er than I would have imag­ined. The strength and con­fi­dence that I’ve gained over the last two years has helped tremen­dous­ly. Knowing that things get done in their own time keeps me from being over­whelmed. If I can make it through this, I’ll be stronger than ever.

This May Feel Cold

Thumbnail: Holter monitor

I’m lying down, naked from the waist up, gig­gling uncon­trol­lably. The nurse damp­ens some tis­sue with rub­bing alco­hol, and rubs down my tor­so method­i­cal­ly. I feel it evap­o­rat­ing off my skin, star­ing at the ceil­ing, unsure of any­where else I could appro­pri­ate­ly keep my eyes. Suddenly, there’s a sharply drag­ging pain on a small area, and I see her mak­ing quick, short arm move­ments in one direc­tion.

Ow, what is that?”, I ask jovial­ly. I’m still gig­gling, a result of my ner­vous­ness. She picks up on this.

It’s sand­pa­per. Haven’t you ever been exfo­li­at­ed?”

The sand­pa­per removes the dead skin, mak­ing the elec­trodes stick bet­ter.

Are you telling me that this is going to make my chest glow, and reduce the appear­ance of any lines and wrin­kles?”

She play­ful­ly returns, “On these five spots, yes.”

Afterwards, I’m told to sign a form with a short expla­na­tion on what is being done, that acknowl­edges my under­stand­ing.

Holter mon­i­tor­ing pro­vides a con­tin­u­ous record­ing of heart rhythm dur­ing nor­mal activ­i­ty. There is no dis­com­fort asso­ci­at­ed with the test.

I’m giv­en a jour­nal to record any abnor­mal heart­beats, whether it’s a skipped beat, an extra beat, or an irreg­u­lar beat, but for the 24 hours that I’m wear­ing this device, I don’t write in it once. It’s a guess­ing game for them, to sort out the what’s nor­mal and what’s not. After any test they do, urine, blood, stool, holter, they say the same thing: we’ll call you if any­thing shows up in the results.

They always say, no news is good news.