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.

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