Friday, February 28, 2003

The Colonoscopy

I wasn't surprised the doctor had ordered this test. Like I said, I had figured all of this out way back in December. I was a bit taken aback at how soon she wanted it done! I went home. I worked out leave from work. I went to have my last solid meal before the test at Waffle House. Clearly, that was the best meal to hold me for the better part of two days right?

Then off to the drugstore and the grocery store for special prep supplies! These are the the goodies from the drugstore. Of course, my local drugstore didn't have the nice all in one kit. Grocery store purchases were made...clear juices, gatorade (not red),ginger ale, jello. Those were the "foods" I was allowed to have the next day while I enjoyed the prep.

The next day dawned bright and early. Clear liquid day. Then midday...I get to start using all the nice stuff from the drug store. Phospho-Soda mixed with gingerale. The first swig isn't the time you get to finishing the bottle many hours later you are sure it is the worst stuff ever invented. Actually, that realization comes earlier. I followed the directions though. I spent more time than I want to admit in the bathroom. Fortunately, by the next morning I was running "clear" which is what they wanted as a I didn't have to use an enema to top off the phosphosoda and Dulcolax.

Very groggy, out of it and grouchy, I went to have the test done. More waiting. More history. Undress. Put on the special hospital nightgown. Wait some more. IV inserted. Wait some more. I get rolled down the hall and into this tiny room where my gi doctor and her assistant await. She makes friendly how are you doing small talk. I growl about the prep that tries to kill you off. She smiles and pats my head. Assistant starts administering the meds to put me under for the test. I ask her what on earth made her choose this line of doctoring. She laughed and said it was just one of those things.

Next she says, I am going to start inserting this as she does just that. YOUCH! That hurt. More than I figured such a thing would. I complain. More drugs and then more. Next thing I know I am in recovery. They handed me a coke. Then the doctor came and told us what she saw and had done. She said Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease. She had taken a biopsy and would get back to me. In the meantime, she made orders for a small bowel study. That is about all I remember of what she said and only that in bits. Thankfully, my girlfriend was there to listen to all of that. (even more thankfully she was sympathetic through the whole prep thing!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

My Ulcerative Colitis Story

The Beginning

I am not really sure where this begins actually. Does it begin during my first pregnancy when I started losing weight and having diarrhea? Probably not. That was fixed when they diagnosed my Grave's Disease and treated it with surgery. Does it begin after my second child was born? I complained of constipation at nearly every check up since then. My thyroid levels were checked and the subject was dropped. Did it really begin way back in college when I had a couple bloody stools, not repeated, not all that alarming, at least not enough to take a risk on a lot of tests I didn't have insurance to cover. All of those are possibilities of course. But the point where the trouble really started was September 2002.

That was a busy, stressful month. In the midst of it, I came down with what I passed off as the flu, stress, food poisoning, eating foods I usually don't, etc. In other words...diarrhea. An off and on fever and a feeling of general dragginess accompanied this mystery malaise. I figured once things calmed down I would be fine. It all continued. Some days good, some days not so good. Soon the not so good days outweighed the good ones with some serious lower tummy cramps and ache.

I was changing to new insurance though. Actually by the time I started thinking that this was not some temporary virus and I might should go to the doctor, I had already changed insurance. I found one thing, then another to stall.

In December, the cramps and diarrhea started being accompanied by blood. that definitely isn't all stress or virus. I poked around the internet. I ended up figuring I had ulcerative colitis with a visit to WebMD. I poked around a bit more on the internet and figured out that a doctor's visit to say the same thing would mean tests. Tests cost money. I then consulted my insurance and sure enough, it made more sense to wait until the New Year to go to the doctor. That way all the tests, visits, co-pays, etc would be in the same calendar year and add up to the same max for the year. Sensible? Right!

Wrong. Well, maybe. Instead I got to spend the month of December being sick and somewhat concerned about it. This managed to accumulate so on Christmas Eve, I was miserable and fairly sure I was going to die before Christmas morning. But, being me, I just kept doing everything I felt I had to do. Thankfully, Christmas morning brought some least enough so I could enjoy the day.

New Year's came. I stalled a little but finally made an appointment about this and for my long overdue physical. My new primary care doctor listened to my history and made the same preliminary diagnosis I did. She then referred me to the GI doc. But, she wanted stool samples and to do an in office "swab" in the meantime.

I went home. I called the GI doc's office. First available appointment is not until February 26. No problem for me. I am in no hurry to be told what I already know. I set about my collection for the stool sample. Lab at school was never this much fun. Ha ha. The GI doc also sent about 15 pages of paperwork to fill out before I saw her.

The long awaited day arrives. I went to the GI doc. Long wait to actually see her once I got to the office. I moderately recounted my story. I minimized this and that. This was before I had spent months discussing my bathroom habits with anyone, much less my doctor.

She was still concerned though. Very concerned. Next thing I know I am scheduled for a colonoscopy two days later. I nicely got to watch a video on the whole procedure before I left the office.