Diverticulitis: My Adventure in Pain

•June 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared my thoughts like this.

After that crazy bitch finally exited my life in January of 2015, I set upon the task of getting myself into a healthy condition.  I joined a gym and started going there every day.  It was around April when I started this journey.  The idiot that I am, impatient with myself, wasn’t happy enough with my progress so I decided to push myself.  Too hard.  The walking and running on the treadmill was ok but the lifting part wasn’t.  One time, I was doing stomach curls on a machine.  You’d set the weight, then loop a harness around your shoulders and then lean forward and pull the weight up.  I was trying to strengthen my abs. Something I’ve never been very good at or liked very much.  I set the weight to something light and did a few.  Felt good.  Next couple times I was in I did the same.  Then I got stupid and decided to notch the weight up quite a bit. When I bent forward, the increased force and pressure of my fat stomach, when curling downward, caused something inside, on the left side, to pop.  I felt a sharp stab and then it was gone.  I thought right then and there that I did something very bad.  I got on the treadmill after that and did some walking and a jog and could feel some soreness in the area.  I decided to give myself a break from all the activity and let my body heal.  Took about a month for the soreness to go away.  In my mind I was thinking it was a hernia and got into the habit of poking at the area I felt pop.  It eventually became sore as a result so I focused on stopping that habit.

Fast forward and things seemed ok.  Some slight stomach issues but nothing bad.  That ‘pop’ though, kept nagging me.  My bowel movements have always been very loose, at least for the last decade or so.  Suffering IBS as a kid, I got used to those cramps and with the loose stool, the lack of constipation kept me feeling pretty well and convinced that I had outgrown that issue.

In November 2015 I met a gal, we went out, had fun. During our fun she put her hand on my left side and while I didn’t know it then, for the next few weeks afterwards I was in a bit of pain.  Very sore.  I got through that thinking it was just a strain and put it off.  At the beginning of 2016, in the early spring I made some changes again.  Guy at work was following a strict diet and he influenced me to change mine.  I started eating good.  One of the side effects should have been that I was feeling great and on one aspect I was but my bowels were not happy all the time.   I was eating a ton of vegetables and sticking to good protein like chicken and tuna.  I was specifically staying away from really starchy foods like russet potatoes and instead, eating sweet potatoes.  I was also completely cutting out sugar and if I wanted something sweet, I was drinking diet cola but not even that much of it.

The growing discomfort in my bowels over the next few months went away when I bought my house.  I was so happy.  Coincidentally I had a followup appointment with my doc and when he ran the bloodwork, all my stats had greatly improved.  He told me that whatever I was doing, I needed to keep doing it.  Grand praise!

So, this is the part where things start to go south.  After I bought the house, I was offered a promotion at work.  They offered me the position of supervisor to replace my boss who was to become the new plant manager.  I should have been super happy but I was super stressed instead.  Stress, stress, stress.  Every day.  I found that every single time I got stressed, that left side would start hurting and aching.  So I started poking again.  My eating habits swung from great to white castle.  The constant flux of stress, bad eating, poking, and drinking alcohol caused my body to go through a drastic change.  I went from loose stool to constipated.  Terribly constipated.  Painfully constipated.  My colon would get so sensitive that I could feel the stool travel from one end of my colon to the other.  The pain was worse at the point where I always poked and prodded.  The left sigmoid area.  It always seemed like the stool would simply stop right there and then fester.  I would push and push and with a lot of blood in the process, finally move it out.

Now were talking about the more present time.  Back in March, I had a very bad time with the pain and constipation.  I set and appointment with my doctor to talk about it.  He set me up with an appointment with a GI doctor.  The GI doctor, after I told him of my last attack, put me on antibiotics immediately and scheduled me for a CT scan.  I did the full course of antibiotics (flagyl and cipro) and once I was done, the doctor got me in for the CT scan.  CT scan was done incorrectly and didn’t show my full lower area but it showed the sigmoid colon well enough to see several large diverticula as well as indications of severe inflammation.  On of those diverticula was exactly where I expected it to be.  Surprising to me was that there were more than just that one.  So, after the scan was read, he scheduled a colonoscopy.  That procedure revealed several diverticula and he was nice enough to give me pictures of them from the inside.  He also found a precancerous polyp. (like I needed more stress)

So it is at this point where things go sideways again.  The doctor prescribed me bentyl for stomach cramps.  Said to take them 4 times a day.  Thing is, I’m not having cramping problems.  I know what a cramp feels like.  This pain isn’t cramping.  It is my colon getting angry because stool is fermenting inside a diverticula.  Further, they tell me to eat a high-fiber diet with probiotics and drink a lot of water.  Of all that, so far only the water part has been of any use.

A month ago I had another constipation attack.  I missed work.  First time I have EVER missed a day of work.  I laid in bed from 10pm to 1pm the next day.  The pain was so bad.  I found that Aleve helped so I took a couple of those and drank a ton of water.  I ate very little.  Eventually the constipation passed as did the pain.  The soreness remained but was vigilant about not poking at it.  That was a month ago.  Zoom to 6/13/2017 – I felt something coming earlier in the day.  I woke up feeling fine and had a good amount of bowel movements previous to that.  However, by noon, I felt dread.  I felt something moving through my bowel.  I felt it enter the colon on my right side.  It burned.  I could feel whatever it was, moving all the way through.  By 2, the ache had started and by 3 the pain was growing in intensity.  By 4, it was all I could do to keep myself sane.  I had work that needed to be done.  So, on my feet, moving around for about 30 minutes, the pain making me nearly vomit, I finished up what I needed to do and went home.  Drank tons of water but the pressure that my bladder was putting on my colon was tripling the pain.  I could feel pain ripping from my prostate, my urethra, my bladder, my rectum, my colon, my ureter.  It was absolutely terrible.  I was convinced that water would fix me.  At around 10pm I settled my things in the house and took myself to the ER.  Got another CT scan, this time with the whole system from my liver to my prostate.  Acute diverticulitis.  They gave me IV flagyl and then IV levaquin.  The doc wrote me scripts for flagyl and cipro and added norco as well as an anti-nausea med.  Then handed me the same preprinted advice that I got from my colonoscopy: high-fiber, probiotic, lots of veggies, lots of water.  It’s the same piece of paper, same info. It’s also the WRONG info.

I started the antibiotics on Wednesday morning.  Missed work.  Started to consume only broth and eating a few triscuits, and probiotic yogurt for the fiber intake. I also picked up prune juice.  Prune juice, for me, forces a bowel movement within a couple hours.  I’m having movements and they’re runny but the pain is still there, still in the same spot.  If I lay on my right side, stretched out, I feel better.  It’s the only way I can sleep.  Thursday, missed work, drank tons of water, triscuits, yogurt and prune juice.  Have to continue to take the norco’s every 6 hours because the pain is still quite intense.  Then I start doing some research and talking to people from a group on facebook for diverticulitis.  These are people who have had pieces of their colon removed as a result.  I discover something.  Inflammation is not the same as infection.  They’re treated totally different.  I’ve been treating my current condition as if I had no condition but diverticulosis.

What the ER should have told me was to go on a strict liquid diet.  My colon needs to rest.  It’s inflamed.  While it may still be infected, I’m not going to take the chance and stop taking the antibiotics but once I stopped with the high fiber intake I did start to feel a bit better.  Still not well though.  Other discovery is that too much movement causes it to flare up.  Also, too much stress.  Friday morning I felt pretty good.  Took a shower, got ready for work, and the moment I got to work, felt dreadful.  I got up and moved around a little which did help because sitting seems to be irritating it a lot but not standing.

So, here I am now.  Still in pain.  Took a norco a while back and was about to head to bed but instead decided to write out this horror story.

I can tell you honestly that this whole thing has me feeling very bad and not just physically.  My mental state is trying to keep myself above the water but I feel like drowning in depression and helplessness… and anger.  The one thing I think about at this time is the people from that support group I found.  The people that have had giant chunks of their colons removed due to this same problem.  I’m not in their shoes at this point.  I want to find a solution that doesn’t require me to lose yet another part of my body.

Only time will tell.

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Bought a House

•March 31, 2017 • Leave a Comment

So, I see that one of my posts in the past discussed my plan to buy a home.  Well, that story was nothing at all the negative experience I had before and was writing about.  Instead it was fraught with some frustration but eventually put me into a house that fits me perfectly.

I was worried about my credit score but buckling down (after I dumped the crazy woman) and saving money again, then being responsible with my credit cards found my score to be pretty well set.  After that hurdle was reached it was a matter of coming up with the money for a down payment.  That was found in my retirement fund.  I borrowed a few thousand from that and boom, found my house and bought it.  I closed on the house on the day of Muhammad Ali’s funeral here in Louisville.  A truly bitter-sweet day.

I wasted no time getting my items moved here.  I owe my neighbor Chris huge for helping me haul the bulk of it.  The apartment complex is still trying to get me to pay for the damages that my ex’s dog did to the place but they’ll not see a fucking dime after I had to fork out 2000 dollars just to break my lease.  Hell no.  Not one more cent.  Not ever.  Hands washed, moved on.

So, now I’m realizing my dream of having a woodworking shop in the basement.  It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember.  I’ve built work benches, table saw stands, I have a compound miter saw, 14 inch band saw, 6 inch jointer, 13 inch planer, a giant toolbox, 1 industrial dust collector and 2 shopvacs.  I have plenty of space to build in.  I’ve built a few bird feeders, cutting boards, and bandsaw boxes.  I’m having a blast!

Intermec PM43 Label Printer Notes

•March 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Update: I have continued to chase this problem and have found that the only solution is to force Windows to do a direct print to the printer, no spooling.  So, if the printer runs out of paper, it will not be able to print and thus our application that sends jobs to the Windows spooler, will stop.  Of course, this shuts down printing for all 70 of the other printers we have in-house.  To mitigate this, I have been working with OpenNMS and SNMP traps to capture out of media events which then notify the on-duty supervisor and IT administrator that the printer is out of paper.  This automation has greatly improved our reaction time to these events.

I have posted this to get it out on the internet so people can find it and not have to go through all the crap I did to get here:

Over the holiday season this year, we made the mistake of leaving our broadcast clients for one of the lines at the KTP plant active. Over the holiday Ford moved product on their line which caused our client to process the data. Hundreds and hundreds of jobs were processed which meant that probably a thousand printouts were done. Most of our printers at the time were low on label stock and ran out. I recall taking a look at the printer server to see how many jobs were queued up but discovered that none of the print queues had any jobs nor did any of the queues show they were in an error state. I knew otherwise. I was annoyed. This leads me to problem number two.

Problem two: When I actually got on-site to take a look at the piles and piles of labels at the printers, I began to reload the stock. I made the silly assumption that all the printers were done printing. Nope! After loading the labels, the printers began to print once again, only this time, it began to print jobs out of sequence. No bueno! Very bad. We’re a sequencing center, the jobs must come out in order. We have error proofing in place to prevent out-of-order sequencing but in normal operations the jobs always come out in order and deviations are cause for concern. I sorted what I could and then reprinted the jobs that were messed up. This took me a few hours when it was supposed to be a, ‘take a quick look to see if things are ok’ job.

I took a look at the settings on the print server and on the printer itself to see if there was anything obviously different between these new printers and our old printers that we have at our IP assembly plant. Since we don’t have this problem with our old printers on our old line. I didn’t find anything obvious so I swept it under the rug and forgot about it.

Over the next few months we’ve added more commodities to our sequencing center here at our original plant. I’ve encountered the out-of-sequencing complaint several times now and it has caused a rift between myself and the night shift coordinator that manages that commodity. The expectation from this guy is that it should work exactly right, every time, and deviations are unacceptable. While I agree with that stance, no amount of digging has, up til now, uncovered a shred of a clue as to why these problems occur.

To reiterate the problem, if the printing operation is interrupted due to running out of paper, the printer server will not record the device as being in an error state and when it is loaded again, will print some jobs out of sequence.

I have become totally fixated on solving this problem. Having zero documentation to work from, needless to say, it has been a bear.

I made a discovery though about a setting that has no explanation that is only accessible through specialty software made for these printers. There are two methods to get to it, through the Intermec equipment management system called SmartSystems and through another printer-only program called PrintSet 5. The setting follows the same path in both programs: Network Services, Net 1, Queue=”On/Off/Multiple” The default value is On. Not knowing or finding any actual explanation as to what this setting does, I took the route of just changing it and seeing what happens.

Here is how our system is setup. We have a Windows 2012 R2 server which is primarily a printer server. We run a proprietary application which looks at a flag in a table on our SQL server that tells it to IDLE, PRINT, or REPRINT a report. Each commodity has two reports, a Part and a Rack report. When a new broadcast comes in, it adds to the report queue table with the PRINT flag and the report manager then grabs the data and packages it up into a single print job and sends it to the print queue, it then changes the table value to IDLE. It’s a very simple and logical operation. The print queues are individual printers, mostly label printers, and all Intermec PM43 printers.

When I change this queue setting to off and then rip off the labels so that it runs out after 5 prints and reprint 9 jobs, it will print 4 jobs and half print the 5th and then the printer itself will flash that it’s out of paper. At the print server the printer will queue up and count down 5 jobs then stop and wait. It will take one more job after about a minute, leaving 3 in the queue on the print server, then the print server will report an error. I reload the labels and it prints out the 5th and 6th jobs immediately, then pauses to clear the error at the queue, then takes the rest of the jobs. Nothing is out of sequence.

When the queue is set to on, which is the default and I follow the same procedure, it prints 4 labels, half of the 5th and then the printer displays the out of paper light but at the print server the queue continues to count down to zero, slowly. About one every minute. It never reports an error on the server. When I load the label stock it prints out what it had queued up and it prints it in order.

I have not been able to replicate the out-of-sequence printing problem but I can replicate the out of paper error reporting problem. I strongly believe that this Queue setting is the key it and know for certain that it is the cause of the non-reporting problem that I have encountered before.

I have posted this to get it out on the internet so people can find it and not have to go through all the crap I did to get here.

Fear of Success

•January 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Part of the negativity about my house buying situation is that this is the third time I’ve tried. My first two attempts led me to negative experiences. All my doing. Being treated like trash because of your credit rating is pretty shitty. Watching and being responsible for my sisters foreclosure on her home that trashed her credit rating while mine remained in the trash, is a harsh responsibility and guilt to bear. It’s difficult to overcome the idea that I don’t deserve it. So there’s the actual root-cause to my chorus of negative thinking.

Scatterbrained

•January 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I find myself walking in circles sometimes.  Sometimes I’m walking halfway up, halfway down, then halfway up my stairs.  Sometimes I’ll open a door, start to walk through it, then turn around and walk the other way.  Why?

Sometimes, like a few moments ago, I have 15 things that I’d like to do pop into my head all at the same time.  Because I’m impulsive, I pick the last thing, then as I start to do that, I realize that perhaps I should start at the top, no, perhaps I should stop and re-prioritize what I want to do.  No, perhaps that’s too much, I think I’ll sit down, oh, shiny!

That’s what happens and it is probably one of the things that deep down subconsciously depresses me about myself.  It’s just another flaw.  It’s the voice of someone shouting at me to make up my mind. It pisses me off.

PS – I think I’ll go do what I was going to do before I got distracted…

Financial Success

•January 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It has taken me a lot of embarrassing moments to get to where I am now.  Lots of moments of asking my mom or my dad to be a co-signer on something.  I’ve had repossessions, I’ve had the Department of Justice threaten me because of my default status on my college loans.  One of the things that I’ve always wished for is job security and stability.  That is something that I have had now for almost 9 years.  Even though it is in the automotive industry.  I suppose that’s why it has taken me as long as it has to get here.

My college loans are in repayment and in good standing. My credit rating has gone from 535 to 683. I pay my credit cards early and more than the minimum payment.  My car payments have never been late. I have over 10k saved in retirement and almost 10k in available credit among all my credit cards. All this to one end: Home Ownership.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel of this life-goal.  I’m even kind of nervous.  I’ve been looking at houses for a while now so I have an idea of what is out there and of what I want.

I’m 45. I made a lot of mistakes but I thinks I’ve put them behind me now.

Hell yea!

Off the Meds

•January 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

On day 11 of not taking cymbalta or the replacement, Prozac. Barely any withdrawals now.  Just the occasional tingly brain which is easily ignorable.  While going to the Prozac was a bit wild, it actually did reign in the brain flashes.  I just didn’t need to take 10 days worth.  I think I took 5.  I know last Sunday (1/10/16) I stayed in bed for about 16 hours.  There was a time when I just didn’t think I could move, almost like I was a prisoner of my body.  Either way, once I got through sleeping all that shit off, I’ve felt pretty good.

Now, what to do with the energy… I have a ton of it but I’m still lacking the fire in my mind to use it.  There’s so many places I need to start on.  Eating better, more activity, anger management, social tact…  At this point my body is still kinda trapped inside my brain.  The desire to be lazy is still strong.  My desire to eat yummy food is still there.  That demon in my gut that screams in pain when it’s hungry, is still causing pain and getting worse the more I try to not eat.  I don’t need food.   Seriously.  I see my gut in the mirror and I know I have enough fat stores to last me a few months of drinking just water.  Not saying that’s what I’ll do but I know I could last a famine.

So, right this moment I’m planning on going to get me something to eat either at IHOP or Waffle House.