Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Health & Doctors...The Hospital Chapter

So apparently when I get sick, I really get sick. I can't seem to just have any normal illnesses or simple doctor visits. Mike says I'm "special"  :)

{Heads Up = this is a long post with lots of medical info; feel free to skip if it doesn't interest you}

As you may or may not know, last Wednesday I was scheduled for my follow up with the GI Specialist. But Tuesday evening I had another bad pain attack. I figured it might be good for the doctor to see me at my worst, so I went to the appointment as planned. We scheduled an upper endoscopy for Christmas Eve (Merry Christmas to me!) and would hope to have some answers then. But the pain persisted and wasn't getting better (and had never lasted any longer than 36 hours). Without any seeming relief in sight, we called the doctor and he suggested I head to the ER, that he would send my records ahead so the ER doctors would have my history and would be ready for me.

We checked in about 3:30pm, and they immediately started me on pain meds, which I was so thankful for. I don't love the idea of narcotics, but it was just nice to get some relief from the pain. After taking blood, doing a CT scan, and talking with my doctor, they decided to admit me and get me prepped to have my upper endoscopy early. The doctor also wanted to do a colonoscopy, so the evening was filled with lots of Golytely fun. (I will spare you the details, but I don't look forward to having to do that ever again). I was just thankful that I didn't really have much in my system to begin with...because it could have been much worse.

The GI doctor was able to do the procedures himself early Friday morning; I am so thankful for that blessing. It was nice to have a familiar face I trusted, and he has been wonderful throughout this whole process. The rest of Friday I spent hooked up to IV fluids, antibiotics, and steroids. I was on an all-clear liquid diet, so I feasted on lots of chicken broth and popsicles :) They wanted to keep me overnight, so that they could monitor my insides and make sure they could get things to calm down. I joked with Mike about taking the absolute most expensive route to finding out answers (ER visits, 2-night hospital stay, extra tests, etc.) But as he reminded me today, God knew I would be sick and was not surprised by the hospital visit. I need to remind myself of that when the bills start piling in...

So...the results of the procedures showed an inflamed ileum (which is the fancy word for the small and large intestines connector). Because it was inflamed and swollen, it was making things difficult to pass through my system. Things were getting backed up, which is what was causing all of the pain. Fun, right? Based on all of the tests and symptoms, the doctor believes I have Crohn's Disease. I have to follow up with him in a couple of weeks, and at that time he will have the final blood results back that will allow him to make a 100% diagnosis. But it looks and walks like a duck...

Basically, Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is hereditary (I found out recently that a first cousin also has it- who knew?), and it is due to a malfunctioning immune system. From what I understand, we have good and bad bacteria in our stomachs. Normally, the bad bacteria is allowed to stay within the digestive tract to aid in digestion (so I guess technically it's good bacteria...or at least appropriate bacteria to be there). When you have Crohn's, however, your immune system identifies that bad bacteria as harmful and attacks it through the linings of the digestive tract, which is what causes inflammation and irritation. So my immune system is doing what it's supposed to, just in the wrong place. While certain foods may irritate my insides, they don't cause the problem. The good news is that the doctor believes that it is a milder case, so it will probably just mean a change of diet and some medication to help manage the symptoms. There's no cure, so this will be a life-long deal, but there is a lot of positive news in terms of managing the disease so that I can ward off the pain attacks and hopefully avoid another hospital visit.

For the next couple of weeks before I see my doctor again, I am on antibiotics and steroids and a strict all-liquid, no fiber diet. This is to let the inflammation subside and keep things calm before re-introducing normal food. I would appreciate prayers over that. I need to be mindful and purposeful in my caloric intake, and the medicine I am on lowers my immune system. So prayers of protection, health, and energy as my body continues to heal are much appreciated.

I still have a lot to learn about Crohn's and what my treatment will look like. There's a part of me that is nervous and sad for what this will look like in the day to day. But there's a larger part of me that feels blessed and so thankful for all the circumstances surrounding this. I am thankful to finally have answers so that we can move forward and get back to "normal." I am grateful for the doctors, nurses, and staff that took such great care of me at Baylor Plano. For health insurance and access to medical care to get this mystery solved. For a diagnosis that is manageable and will still allow me to lead a relatively normal life. For patient bosses and co-workers who picked up the slack in my absence. For my sweet husband who patiently and lovingly took care of me these past few days (although he did say that I cashed in my "in sickness and in health" card early haha). For the sweet friends and family who took care of Sasha while we were in the hospital. For the outpouring of prayers, love, and concern from countless people. And for the grace and healing from Jesus as He took care of and comforted us through this crazy ordeal.

My boss this morning saw me at my desk and said, "Hey- lookie here! Day #2 and you're here! You gotta celebrate the little things...it's 9:00 and you're not in the hospital! Now that's a GOOD day!" Most definitely blessed.



  1. Praying for you sweet girl. I'm glad they figured out what it was, even though it took so long. My coworker was just diagnosed with Crohn's and she's spent a lot of time reading/researching the best diet for her. I'll let you know if she has any great resources to pass on to you.

    1. Thanks Kristen! I would appreciate that so much! I want to learn as much as possible so I can avoid this craziness! :)