Diagnosis

Well, I thought I had really laid things out in the last post I made about my health. I also thought I had already been through a lot by staying a night in the hospital and having a bunch of tests run on me. Nope, not quite.

To catch things up to the present: I will start at the Saturday following my first night spent in the hospital (which was Tuesday, April 23rd). I spent Saturday night in extreme agony from my stomach and couldn’t sleep pretty much at all. The next morning, (Sunday, May 2nd) I couldn’t manage to get out of bed until after 1. When I did finally get up to sit outside for a moment and soak up some sun, I got myself to eat some buttered ramen noodles and a cup of apple sauce. I thought my stomach handled it pretty well for a few hours, and I was feeling good about that. But then a few hours later, I was right back to the excruciating pain. I’m talking the worst stomach pains I’ve had since I started feeling dealing with stomach pain at the beginning of the year. Pain of a severity that it’s impossible to put on a scale of 1-10. I felt like when the pains came on, they just raised to an unbearable level that had me literally screaming out and writhing around to try to escape the sensation that just wouldn’t leave.

Now, I’d gotten to the point where I could just kinda “stomach” the pain, so I wasn’t really that worried about some discomfort or sleep lost because I knew it would go away eventually. I was also having trouble asking for help and making myself go back to the hospital for more probing and prodding. Like my last visit wasn’t enough of that. But something of a survival instinct finally kicked in inside my brain, and I knew that if I didn’t get this issue taken care of, I wouldn’t be alive much longer. If eating the most basic of foods put me in that state, then there was nothing I could safely eat anymore. That scared me the most. Since the pain itself wasn’t enough to get me to take care of myself, the aspect of starving to death finally did.

I had someone take me to the ER, which I could barely manage because the pain of walking was unbearable (well, more unbearable than I was used to it being). Walking from my bed to the car and then from the car to the ER doors didn’t seem possible, but I obviously made it somehow since I’m here writing this now. Getting there and being checked in didn’t take too long this time, probably because I was bawling and could barely speak to explain what was wrong with me. I get in a bed and get a set of IVs in each arm, which I thought was a little overkill, but whatever. Fluids in one and then Tylenol in another. Vitals taken. Million questions asked. Multiple nurses and doctors coming in and out and weird beeping noises going on all around you… I’m sure this is unfortunately familiar to some people.

Rockin the double IVs in my skeleton arms!

This time at least I had someone with me, my mom and mother-in-law. It really helped having someone else there to answer questions and ask things that I wouldn’t think of. I can only remember so much of what I need to tell them, and I’m only gonna bring up things when directly asked about them. The first time I was in the ER on Friday, I was alone to field the intensive interrogation they put you through. Which can be overwhelming on top of what you’re already experiencing.

Before getting into the details of my 2-night stay, I would just like to talk about what kind of self-destructive mindset led me to this point…

I had not been ok for too long. I finally decided to do something about it and actually deem myself worthy enough for help, and to speak up and ask for it. I don’t know what led me to believe that being in pain is regular or that I just had to deal with it. There are some times that you need to be honest and admit that you’re actually suffering. I grew up with the mindset of toughing it out. You fall off your bike or trip on a rock, scrape off the dirt, and get back up. That comes from being the oldest child of 6, as well as growing up in a rural mountain town where you spend a lot of time playing outside getting dirty. At least, we did.

But there are things that you experience that you can’t exactly just “tough out” until they go away. Especially internal issues that other people aren’t going to notice unless you say something about it. Last year I neglected a really bad UTI until it severely messed up my bladder and made it difficult to completely heal from all the inflammation many months later. And once that was dealt with, I started having complications in my gut that I haven’t even known the cause of this whole time. I just let the pain come and go as it would, all the time losing way too much weight and silently suffering as I went about my day.

I’ve had enough of pain. It’s taken multiple appointments and two ER overnight stays to find out what’s going on with my insides. There were a few tests done and tentative diagnoses given, but I decided I couldn’t wait for the timeline to unfold that we had decided on. The pain couldn’t wait until my appointment a week out. As difficult as it was to ask someone to take me to the ER again, it needed to happen. I needed to be somewhere that they could monitor and relieve the pain and really heal me, not just wait for it to go away. I knew for certain that I couldn’t take care of this myself, so I had to seek serious medical attention. I had to put myself first for once and get some attention, which I really don’t like most of the time.

It turned out that I was going to have to have an emergency endoscopy and colonoscopy. Scary words for someone in their 20’s. The actual procedure was the easiest part to endure because they put you under. I’d been awake for everthing else they did to me plus the horrible disgusting process of preparing your body for cameras to glide inside our tubes from both ends. It also sucks getting up onto a table with only a gown on and then they raise you up, hook up the IVs and give you a mouth guard and a nasty goopy throat numbing liquid. After that, I was completely out until it was over and they were wheeling me back to my room.

This is a picture of the first real food I’d been given since coming to the hospital, and the first meal I’d really enjoyed in half a year with no pain afterwards.

So…… I don’t exactly know how to conclude this. But I do know that what I’ve just been through, as embarrassing and uncomfortable as it got, saved my life. I am going to advocate in the future for people to take care of themselves and at least get their issues checked out before things get worse. Stop being stubborn about it and admit that you need help. That’s the lesson I can take from this, as well as many more personal lessons about what’s going on in my head to let my health slip so far. Everyone around me can see I’m hurting, but somehow I can turn a blind eye to it.

Well, no more. I may have Crohn’s Disease but that fact doesn’t bother me. It’s actually very manageable with modern medicine and understanding of the disease, despite the fact that we don’t know the cause or cure… What I’m trying to deal with is what I’ve already been through, and how close it brought me to death’s door.

That’s it for now. More to come later as I try to unpack what I’ve just experienced, and where to go from here…

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