Monday, April 26, 2010

here, you can finish off this chocolate bunny, I'm going to need something stronger

I'm thinking of re-naming this blog. Downward Spiral or So What's Wrong with You This Week? come to mind.

Remember last spring when I was really happy to discover that the "digestive issues" I'd been having after my operation would go away by themselves? Well, they did, and I was doing just fine. Up until late February of this year, that is, when it all came back with a vengeance. Off to the gastroenterologist for another colonoscopy. Yippee. The diagnosis I got a week ago last Friday was not very encouraging. Dr. S now thinks that since this is the second time this has happened that it's very likely to be a chronic problem - mild ulcerative colitis, to be exact. Ugh.

Along with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis is a form of IBD - inflammatory bowel disease, not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which can be annoying but is not generally a serious condition. UC is not much fun at all. Go look it up if you're not the squeamish type. It's not caused by diet, stress or emotional issues, although all those can worsen the symptoms. Despite an official consensus, UC is generally considered to be an autoimmune condition in the same category as type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatid arthritis, psoriasis, MS, thyroid disease etc. If you already have one autoimmune condition, your chances of getting another one are increased. I've had autoimmune thyroid disease for over 40 years so I guess it's not suprising that my immune system has now decided to attack somewhere else.

Anyway, for the next 8 weeks I'm taking Mesalazine, the standard anti-inflammatory medication which comes with its own set of side effects. Twice a day I'm choking down these little granules that look (and probably taste) just like the sand you spread in the bottom of a bird cage. Apparently the granular 'micro pellet' form is very effective because it bypasses the stomach and goes straight to where the problem is. So far I have seen an improvement. I don't exactly feel good, but I do feel a bit better and can actually leave the house now.

While I was dealing with all that I also developed a horrible dry cough just before the Easter holidays. My regular doc said my white blood cell count was very elevated, indicating an infection somewhere. He thought I might be developing walking pneumonia so he put me on antibiotics for a week. Just the thing when your innards are already in a tizzy, but he felt it was necessary. The cough lingered on for a month, finally (almost) disappearing this week. Along with that I had puffy eyelids, swollen ankles and a fever that spiked in the evenings and broke during the night. I also lost 17 lbs without even trying. That would normally be a cause for celebration, but this was *not* the right way to go about it. I spent most of the Easter holidays lying on the sofa feeling very, very sorry for myself. Mr. M and the boys were angels and did everything that needed to be done to keep the house from imploding.

After the 8 weeks are over, I'm scheduled for yet another colonoscopy. I know. I'm as thrilled as you are. But you know what? There are worse things. Way worse. A week after the colonoscopy we leave for Vancouver for 6 weeks. I'm assuming I'll still be on medication then to keep this thing in remission. It may stay in remission, it may get much worse. No one knows. Right now I'm trying to stay positive and focus on the good days, letting the not so good days slide.

Right now I'm doing extensive research into nutrition and supplements. There's no cure for this disease, you can't just pop a magic pill or take some exotic herbs, but there are ways to make things easier and ensure that one is getting the proper nutrients while minimizing flares. This book - What to Eat with IBD - has been a huge help to me as far as 'hurting' and 'healing' foods are concerned.

All of my energy has been centered inward lately, but I think I may have a little bit left over for blogging in the near future. Stick with me, huh?

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