Diverticulitis: My Adventure in Pain

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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~ by aeroslin on June 17, 2017.

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