The time has finally come where I can no longer identify as a Baltimore Orioles fan. My last straw with the team was their failure to resign outfielder Adam Jones. Instead, yesterday Jones signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
I went to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore yesterday and met with a professor of medicine and the director of the inflammatory bowel disease program who is a Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis expert. I’m so glad that I did. He was like a human lighthouse in the fog of medical confusion I’ve found myself in for the last few months: I have Crohn’s disease.
I do not have ulcerative colitis.
The good news is that my medical problem can be fixed with surgery. A surgeon who specializes in gastrointestinal surgery will open me up, take out the bad part of my digestive tract, sew the remaining good parts of the digestive tract back together, and I’ll be done with it. Crohn’s disease will be in my read view mirror. No more expensive medication that doesn’t work or that my insurance company will not pay for until we (okay, my wife) engage in multiple rounds of telephone kung fu.
My Crohn’s will be gone.
This type of treatment appeals to me on many different levels. When you have a problem, to me it makes more sense to eliminate the problem than to treat the symptoms of the problem. That’s what taking medication does, it treats the symptoms of the problem. Plus, taking medication for the rest of my life for a serious medical problem means that I have to hope my insurance company doesn’t try to stop me from receiving the medication I need some time in the future.
I was told yesterday to stop taking the Delzicol because it’s a useless medication for Crohn’s disease. Expensive, but useless. It’s designed to treat ulcerative colitis, something the director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore is 100 percent sure I do not have.
I’ve been feeling better since taking Delzicol, but that’s because I’ve been taking steroids while taking the Delzicol. Not just any steroids, I’ve been taking Prednisone. It’s a steroid that targets the entire body, not just the area in need of the healing benefits of steroids.
From now on and until the surgery, I’ll be taking Budesonide, a steroid that targets the area where the Crohn’s disease is. The Prednisone has been making my blood sugar levels high and it’s been making me gain weight. Hopefully, the new steroid will not do either of these two things.
I may or may not need another colonoscopy before the surgery. It’s up to the surgeon. I guess I’ll know for sure after meeting with her. A colonoscopy isn’t bad. It’s the prep work you have to do before a colonoscopy that’s terrible.
I imagine getting your intestines operated on requires the same prep work a colonoscopy requires. Now that I think about it, intestinal surgery probably requires even more severe prep work requirements than a colonoscopy. I really don’t want to drink any more of that nasty tasting liquid.
I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This blog post is part of a series of posts that began with what I wrote about how I almost died. Make sure to first read that one first and then the follow-up post after that before reading this one. Things will probably make more sense that way.
The good news is that I’m totally off the steroids and because of that, the depression has dramatically ramped down to my normal, annoying level of depression. I now only experience the depression that I’ve been dealing with for a while now. Watching the evening news doesn’t make me cry.
Depression is part of the normal human experience. If your cat dies or your wife leaves you for someone else, the normal, natural response is to get depressed. I get depressed for no reason. When I get depressed, there is no outside stimulus responsible for it. I just feel severely depressed.
I was on the steroids to treat the inflammation of my intestines. Hopefully, the steroids did what they were supposed to do, because I don’t want to go back on them.
Again, being on steroids gave me a whole new appreciation for Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. I don’t know how he could use steroids for his entire career. The fact that he did and didn’t allow the side effects of steroids to drag him down is a testament to what a great athlete he was.
I’m experiencing shooting pains in my lower abdomen after eating. They can get quite severe. I have pain pills when they get really bad. I’m supposed to avoid anything high in fiber. I can’t eat salad or whole wheat bread. The only fruit I can eat is canned fruit. I think the pain is made worse because it’s related to what put me in the hospital. If I was experiencing the same level of pain in my leg or my shoulder, it wouldn’t bother me nearly as much. The fact that the pain is located in my abdomen bothers me on a psychological level.
It turns out the fatigue I was experiencing is because I have anemia. This is normal for intestinal problems because you can’t absorb certain nutrients. I’m taking iron supplements and giving myself vitamin B-12 shots. I haven’t really noticed a difference. I still get tired quite easily.
I took two naps yesterday. I feel like I’m turning into our cat.
Tomorrow I have an appointment at the imaging center for a CT scan of my intestinal area. I have to drink some type of special liquid and then they will do what they are going to do. The CT is needed to make sure it’s safe to do the colonoscopy. I will not know what’s really going on until the colonoscopy. I just want to know definitively what’s going on with my guts. If it’s Crohn’s disease, then I can start treatment for that. If it’s something else then I can start treatment for that. What I find aggravating is my gastrologist will not schedule the colonoscopy until he sees the results of the CT scan. I just want to get this done.
Not knowing is the worst part.
The good news is that for the first time, my diabetes is totally under control. Spend eight days in intensive care and it tends to make you take your health issues a lot more seriously. I’m testing my blood constantly throughout the day and I’m recording everything in a log book. I’m not eating anything a diabetic should not eat. My doctor took me off all my medications for diabetes except Humalog, a fast-acting insulin. I’m now also taking Xultophy, a once-a-day injectible pen. That’s it.
Once I get the anemia under control, I want to get back to going to the gym. I have a Planet Fitness membership just collecting dust. With daily exercise, my diabetes should be even easier to keep under control.
This post is going to be very self-indulgent as it pertains to my health. If you have no interest in reading this, please accept my apologies. Then again, this is my personal blog. Remember those? I should be entitled to write about myself here without apologies.
Also, I have a few family members back in California I don’t have relationships with, but I know for a fact they creep around here like the little stalkers they are to see what I’ve been up to so they can trash talk me.
Anyway, I almost began the new year by taking up permanent residence in a budget urn. I almost died. They believe a G.I. blockage resulted in a very serious infection which caused my diabetes to go all out of whack. For some reason when the human body is hit with a heavy infection, it begins to make sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. After that, I went into Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
Sheri took me to the doctor this morning for my checkup. Things are going well.
- The depression I’m feeling is completely normal. I’m on a heavy dose of steroids and that, as well as going through what I went through can ramp up the depression. That makes me feel better. Not only am I dealing with depression, the slightest little thing can send me off into an emotional crying fit. Seriously. Things make me cry.
- The level of fatigue I’m feeling is also completely normal. My doctor told me that it will take two to three months to get back to feeling like a normal human being.
- My doctor told me this morning that when he first came by to see me in the ICU, he didn’t think I was going to make it. This was news to me. I know in retrospect that what I had was serious and potentially life-ending. Hearing my doctor tell me that he thought I was going to die is somehow different. It helps put things into perspective. It makes me feel better about the depression and fatigue. My doctor thought I was going to die. Cut me some slack bitch (I’m speaking to myself. I call myself bitch all the time, especially when watching the evening news makes me cry).
- Finally, my doctor thinks that when I’m well enough for a colonoscopy, it will show I have Crohn’s disease. I don’t know what that is. I need to look it up on the Internet, but I find reading about diseases on the Internet to be scarier than those Japanese horror movies where the girl doesn’t have a face. I might wait to read up on Crohn’s disease.
So that’s about it. My blood sugar is still running a little high, but that’s to be expected because of the steroids. When in doubt, blame everything on steroids.
As bad as steroids are, I don’t know how Cal Ripken Jr. used them for so long. Respect.
And for the record, Dr. Tu Bui is the greatest doctor of all time and Meritus Health is the best hospital in the world.