Friday, July 18, 2014

Diagnosis Crohn's Disease

Last Wednesday, I obviously took the afternoon off to watch the Argentina vs. Netherlands game. I assumed my usual soccer-watching position at the St. Regis, despite complaining to my co-worker that I was feeling "off". I actually had to force down my glass of vino and some soup before leaving to go home and crawling into bed around 5 pm. Truth be told, I hadn't been feeling well for the past five weeks, but I figured the discomfort in my stomach was because I hadn't eaten enough veggies that week or something along those lines. I spent most of the evening reading about appendicitis and gallstones and I set a reminder to stop into my doctor's office on the way to work the next morning. 

That night, I was in and out of sleep with a throbbing pain in my side. It wasn't escalating, but it was uncomfortable and I knew I had to get it checked out. I woke up around 6 am and called my mom (obvz), who immediately said she's driving in to bring me into emergency. She knew I hadn't been feeling well on and off for the past month and was starting to get concerned. I was feeling so terrible that I didn't protest.

The ER

Is it possible to have a fantastic experience in the ER? It was pretty dead when I arrived around 7 am and I was put into my own room. A short time later, a doctor ordered an ultra-sound, where they couldn't find my appendix, it was so inflamed in the area. That led to doctors presuming a) my appendix had burst or b) it's still in tact and something else was going on. I headed in for a CT (this post would have been better with pics, amiright?) and doctors confirmed that my bowel and intestine were REALLY inflamed. Then the General Surgeons and GI doctors started visiting my little room in the ER. 

By 4 pm, a doctor had told me that I should expect to stay in the hospital for a few days (whaaaa???) and that I would need to have a colonoscopy so they could determine why it was so inflamed. Crohn's was mentioned.

Room with a View
Let's take a moment to appreciate this spectacular view. I used it to lure my friends and family to come visit. I mean, if I'm going to spend 8 days in the hospital, I'd better find SOME positives!




The Colonoscopy

I was told Sunday morning that my colonoscopy would be Monday. My insides were still too inflamed to do it any earlier. If you've ever had this procedure done, you know that you have to drink about four litres of a solution that started off being "okay", but ended with me wanting to die. To add fuel, I had been on a clear fluid diet all day. I WAS allowed juice and Starbucks iced tea lemonades, all of which saved me. In case you haven't put 2 + 2 together, all of this was to ensure that I was totally "cleaned out" for the colonoscopy. 

Monday morning, I went down around 11 for the procedure. If you are staying in the hospital, you are brought down to the procedure area on a stretcher, wait fifteen minutes or so, then wheeled into the actual procedure room where the doctor explains a few things, gives you a light sedative, fills your insides up with gas and begins threading the scope through your intestines. I felt discomfort as it rubbed my intestines, so I was given a bit more of the anesthetic which left me pain-free and watching the entire procedure on the big screen. It was actually kind of interesting!

I could hear snippets of the doctors confirming I have Crohn's Disease and telling me they were taking a biopsy of the area, but I was in a pretty big fog by the end of it all. Once I got back to my room, I was so uncomfortable from the gas pain, nausea and major headache I'd had all morning that I was crawling around on my bed while my mom and favourite nurse, Julie, tried to settle me down. I puked a few times, lay down in pain, puked more, tried to talk to JG, who was so great to come visit before flying back to the Island, puked in her presence, lay down in pain, took some Tylenol, puked that up, repeat until about 10 pm once I stopped puking for good. 

I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and eager to start reading up on Crohn's. What a difference eight hours makes!

I stand corrected

When the GI doctors first speculated Crohn's last week, I immediately felt guilty for ever eating any kind of junk food at any time throughout my life. I'm generally a decent eater, but I DO have weaknesses (get over here, you sexy basket of French fries, you) and I assumed THAT'S what caused the disease.

My doctors and everything I've read about it have reassured me that it's a genetic and an environmental disease. There are some foods that I might want to stay away from if I ever feel a flare-up approaching, but I mustn't feel guilty for having this. Basically, if I start feeling the same discomfort I've felt the past five weeks, I should avoid a high-fibre diet to try and keep the inflammation to a minimum and (hopefully) avoid this severe of a flare-up.


What I learned About Myself

1. I don't ask enough questions. Most of the questions I asked my doctors were questions friends and family asked ME, making me think, oh, I should really find that out
 
2. I HATE being a bother. In the hospital, I was pretty functional and could do things on my own (hell, I even used my teeth-whitening kit every night), but there are some things patients are not allowed to do or CAN'T do (putting an IV in is hard!) and I always hesitated to call a nurse. Sometimes I would stand at my doorway and peer out, hoping to make eye contact with one...picture a creepy girl with messy hair in a hospital gown staring at you.


Going Forward

There is no cure for Crohn's, so saying "feel better" is probably more suitable than "get better". I will be on a strong steroid for the rest of the summer and then continue on with an anti-inflammatory (Imuran) going forward. I will track what I eat and how I feel after as well as what my pain level is daily. A possible side effect of coming off the steroid at the end of the summer is paranoia so now I'm paranoid about being paranoid. BUT this will hopefully reduce inflammation and get me into remission. I also have to have regular blood work done as the Imuran can cause damage to some organs.

There's an 80-100% chance that I'll have another flare-up, but there's no telling when or how often. As C put it, let's hope it's not for another 35 years!

So Thankful

I am overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I've received from everyone. To all my friends and family who stopped by, sent me texts, Facebook and Twitter messages, sent me "newsy emails" to keep me entertained, who called me when I was bored, gave me a pedicure....THANK-YOU. I love you all and cannot wait to see you/talk to you again when I'm in a more upbeat setting. Hospitals just aren't quite as fun as a patio on the water.

I absolutely cannot forget the wonderful nurses who took such good care of me, chatted with me, answered my questions and offered me earplugs at night. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how valuable our healthcare system is until I actually had to USE it and I have new-found appreciation for everything nurses, doctors and hospital staff  do.

Now it's time to move on and focus on things like pain management and purchasing silly shower caps to help cope with non-hair washing days!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hospitaling



There will be no new posts for a few days. What I thought was appendicitis isn't and the doctors would like to keep me for some tests. I am already bored out of my mind so keep me entertained with your respective blogs and twitter feeds. Hopefully there will be some major celebrity gossip for me to latch on to soon. I will be accepting all visitors (no crazies, please) and would love to have my hair washed. My sis-in-law told me her hospital experience was great, so I have high expectations. 

When does the mani/pedi person come by my room?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

World Cup Semi-Final: Netherlands vs. Argentina


I think The Netherlands are a great team. I still say RVP's first goal is a contender for best of the tournament. Robben, while I hate the dramatics, has been one of the strongest players in this World Cup.

Messi is amazing. He has stellar ball control and a deadly left foot. He also sometimes forgets to show up.
Argentine players are being told by sponsors that "they are the warriors tasked with defending our love for the nation" [source]. No pressure whatsoever.

I am leaning toward Argentina just because it seems like there are a lot of Holland fans on my Twitter feed and I like going against the grain at times like these. I also would like to visit Argentina once their economic meltdown gets settled.

Thoughts? Predictions? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

World Cup Semi-Final: Germany vs. Brazil


Which hat will I wear today? 



On one hand, Brazil is deep with talent, but they are without two of their stars: Neymar (broken vertebrae) and Silva (idiotic penalty in the last game). 

Germany's side consists of players who mostly play on two top-tier teams in the Bundesliga, which means they are pretty unified and know their system. They will continue their ruthless attack on Brazil.

I'm leaning toward a German victory, not because I want it, but because I think they're the better team right now.

What do you guys think? I'd love to hear your arguments for a Brazil win!



Monday, July 7, 2014

Weekend Round-Up


Friday afternoon, I hopped on the West Coast Express for the 50-minute ride out to my brother and SIL's beautiful new home. My bro is still in Calgary for another week, so we had a Girls' Night In with my adorable nieces. B made a delicious dinner and I was entertained by the two bugs. I love how inquisitive sweet Andie is and headstrong Greta kept us asking, "Wait. Where's Greta?" Let's just say I now know that a toddler needs to consume at least five extra-strength Tylenols for it to be considered dangerous and I almost got to bust through my first locked bathroom door! 

video

C-Mah and I trekked out to IKEA on Sunday. ("You don't have a problem crossing picket lines, do you? Wait. I forgot who I'm talking to.") The nice thing about this IKEA having a picket line? A LOT less customers! We blew through there and I finally found a rug for my deck that I quite like:




I was a bit lost without World Cup on Sunday, but I am looking forward to two great matches this week!