So a lot of people might look at the human body and think, “Wow, it’s so intricately designed. It’s so complex and everything just happens to connect and work together in just the right way to sustain life.” And while they would technically be correct, I, on the other hand, am saying that the human body is actually very poorly designed. It’s extremely fragile and susceptible to just about everything ever. Now some people might live 100 years and never experience anything negative with their bodies, but in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not one of those people.
I’m 21, I’ve had two separate operations (technically three, but I’d consider one to be a two-parter operation) for two separate reasons two years apart from each other. I’ve had countless ear infections and even had tubes in my ears (a miniature kind of operation thing?) when I was 2 or 3. I have tinnitus, I had a supposed hemorrhoid (that was according to one doctor and no other doctors have told me that I have one since) and most recently I have been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
Now to me, the body is extremely stupid…at least, my body is extremely stupid. There is currently a civil war going on inside of my body. For those of you who don’t know, Ulcerative Colitis is a form of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) where my immune system thinks that my large intestine is an intruder and therefore has started attacking it. This causes my large intestine to become inflamed which, in turn, causes me to have serious bowel issues. It’s not fun to be going so frequently and it even started interfering with my sleep (waking me up at 3 or 4 in the morning to have to use the bathroom).
Anyway, let’s start this off at the beginning.
I first started getting these symptoms around the beginning of 2014 (sometime in January). At first I thought it was normal diarrhea, especially since Imodium seemed to help. But after three or four weeks of it, I finally decided to go see the walk-in clinic. The doctor there got me to do blood tests, stool samples, etc. There was a period of about three or so weeks, where I would be doing another blood test every week. But all the tests came back negative, showing nothing except that my white blood cell count was pretty high, making the doctor think that I had an infection of some kind. So he prescribed random medication (basically throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, but nothing stuck).
After several different kinds of medication failed, he finally got me in to do a CT scan. I had to drink some kind of barium liquid, but luckily it tasted like peach and was actually not that bad to ingest (unlike something else I would later have to drink which I’ll get to eventually). Anyway, the CT scan came back negative as well, which really perplexed the doctor. He then got me in to see a GI (gastrointestinal) specialist who told me that he would have to perform a colonoscopy (or whatever the miniature version of a colonoscopy is) and that I would get a call saying when my appointment was.
That never happened.
I never got a call from anyone about that. But luckily, shortly after this I went into remission. Without any medication, my immune system randomly stopped attacking my large intestine and it was able to heal itself and I was able to go back to living a normal life. This was around May 2014, so I was able to work in the garden centre care-free, I was able to go out with my friends on Halloween, I was able to go on the date that was not a date in September, I was able to go to my friend’s wedding social, I was able to hang out with my friends on New Years. Things were pretty good.
Then January 2015 happened. Shortly after that bad date experience I mentioned in an earlier post, I started getting the symptoms again. Now things had to get serious. My parents were getting worried and I was getting annoyed at my bowels.
My mom ended up calling the GI place to find out why I never got a call for a colonoscopy appointment. They wouldn’t really answer anything, but my dad started talking to one of the walk-in clinic receptionists who was actually very nice and said she would get to the bottom of this. According to her there was a five year waiting list. FIVE YEARS! They were just putting people through that had been waiting since 2013 or earlier and they wouldn’t get to 2014 until next year or the year after that. Now here’s the funny thing with Ulcerative Colitis, if it goes untreated long enough, it turns into cancer. Isn’t that just slap-your-knee hilarious? A five year waiting list could mean that I’d be dead before I had a colonoscopy.
Luckily both my parents are extreme worriers, so they were very insistent with the phone calls and trying to find out what we could do. Eventually the receptionist told us to just go see an emergency doctor at one of the hospitals. So my dad and I spent an entire day waiting at the hospital to see an emergency doctor who originally wasn’t going to do anything. But my dad, knowing that my mom would kill him if we came back and said nothing could be done, wouldn’t give up without a fight. The doctor first said to us that they do have someone on call to do emergency colonoscopies, but this didn’t seem like an emergency situation because I wasn’t vomiting up blood. But after enough coaxing, the doctor ran a blood test and I gave a stool sample and he told us to come back in the morning and we could see a different GI specialist who would determine what to do.
The next morning we got in, saw the GI specialist and he told us to come back the next day and they’d do a colonoscopy. My dad and I were both shocked that we could get it done that quickly. The GI specialist “prescribed” a special laxative that I had to drink that day to make sure my bowels were completely clear for the colonoscopy. I had to drink 4 litres of the stuff! A full jug of milk worth of laxative solution. It was a powder that you mix with water and keep in the fridge (making it chilled makes it easier to drink, so I was told). Here’s the thing, it was clear, so it looked like water. It smelled like garden dirt and it tasted like sulfur. And I had to drink 4 litres of this sulfur liquid. I was told to drink 2L at 2 PM and 2L at 10 PM. It took at least two hours (maybe a little more) to finish 2L during both of those times. Well, you know, it’s a laxative, so I had to run to the bathroom part way through. Not to mention that it had a weird slimy texture to it, like I was drinking a slug, that made it very hard to get down without gagging.
Anyway, it was the worst day of my life! And what made it even worse, was that I found out there was a pineapple flavour. Why couldn’t I have gotten the pineapple flavour? That probably would’ve been better than the sulfur flavour.
Well, the day of the colonoscopy (February 13th, 2015) wasn’t too bad. I had to be there for seven, and I didn’t get my colonoscopy until around 10ish. But they put me to sleep during it, so when I woke up it was all over. But I kept falling asleep and waking up, several times, until they decided they needed the bed for other patients and kicked me out. That’s when I was told I have Ulcerative Colitis and the doctor prescribed Salofalk.
Now, if this was an episode of Scrubs, or House, or ER, or Grey’s Anatomy, or any other doctor show the episode would have ended here. But this is my life, not a show about doctors, so my story unfortunately doesn’t end here.
Almost two weeks into the medication I started getting back pain, neck pain and headaches. The back pain got so bad one day that it even hurt to breathe. I ended up calling a GI nurse and told her this stuff because these are potential side effects of Salofalk, and she told the GI specialist who performed the colonoscopy and prescribed this medication and he told her to tell me to stop taking the medication and he would call in a prescription for a different medication for me to start taking.
I’ve been off the medication for almost two days and my back is doing a little better (my headaches and neck pain were gone before this), though my dad also said that it could be kidney stones that I have since he had similar symptoms when he had kidney stones approximately twenty years ago, but I seriously hope it’s not kidney stones.
So my story ends around here, because now we’re caught up with the present day, I’m going to be picking up the new medication today whenever they call me to tell me it’s ready to be picked up.
And now you know why I think the human body is a poorly designed, almost prototype-like contraption that really should have gotten out of beta testing mode before being brought to the public.
Time for a major update. I’m currently in the hospital and have been here for 2 nights and 3 days, though I should be out of the hospital in another day or two.
So when I wrote this I was just getting my prescription for Pentasa, which is another 5-ASA drug like Salofalk, using the same active ingredient. By the time I got the Pentasa, it was already mid-afternoon so I only had half a dose (4 pills).
I ended up going to work, but got such bad stomach pains that I had to leave work early because I couldn’t do anything. It was awful.
I took the first full dose on Thursday and things had improved with my stomach. However, the worst was yet to come.
So that night (Friday morning) at around 1:40 AM, I woke up with excruciating lower back pain. It was worse than I had ever experienced before. It was so bad that I couldn’t get back to sleep.
I tried taking a couple extra strength Tylenol but that didn’t help. I tossed and turned but couldn’t get comfortable. I felt like going to the hospital but I didn’t want to wake my parents up and I figured it was probably nothing but back pain.
Around 3 AM I went to the living room and tried lying down on a heating pad on the sofa, but that didn’t work either, and now the pain was extending to my stomach. At around 4 AM I finally threw up and screamed out for my parents to wake up. It took a couple tries but then they came running out. My mom suggested going to the hospital.
So we went. And actually we didn’t have to wait very long to be taken in, I guess they saw how much agony I was in.
Anyway, the doctor could tell right away from the blood work that I had Pancreatitis. So… That’s great. He figured it was probably from gallstones since I’m not a heavy drinker.
Here’s the kicker though, it wasn’t gallstones as the ultrasound proved. What caused it was the Salofalk and Pentasa and every single other 5-ASA drug that exists. It’s an extremely rare, highly unlikely side effect to occur. In fact, the doctor that prescribed the Salofalk saw me on Friday and told me that he has prescribed the medication a thousand times and I’m the first person to get that side effect.
So, I was also extremely dehydrated apparently so they had me on IV for a while, I only just got permission to be off of it. I couldn’t eat anything on Friday and my meals on Saturday were just soup broth. I got to try some solid foods like crackers and toast with my supper tonight and my stomach is doing fine.
I’m on Prednisone now for the Ulcerative Colitis, but I’m not sure what the long term plan is going to be. It should put me into remission shortly and since the Pancreatitis seems to be pretty much done, I should be able to be normal again soon, fingers crossed.
So that’s my update and why I will continue thinking that the human body sucks forever.
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