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Clear Choice

September 28, 2012 – 8:59 am

I pushed back the down comforter, careful not to disturb Katie or Arabel, and sat up in bed. My guts ached like someone had knotted together little bags of rocks and tied them to my lower intestines so that they hung there, swaying, pulling. I held my lower abdomen, as if that could relieve the pain.

In the dim light the clock under the changing table glowed 3:26 am; eight hours since my last dose of antibiotics; time to take my medicine. I’m taking antibiotics because I might have a mild case of diverticulitis. Probably that’s what it is. The doc is pretty sure.

When I visited her the previous morning the pain was bad and mysterious: a sudden persistent ache in my lower stomach and lower back. It’s been seven years since I last visited a doctor for mysterious abdominal pain and that visit led to a life-saving surgery and two weeks in the hospital. I was hoping this would just be a bad case of gas.

Doc pushed around on my stomach, suggested that it might be diverticulitis, ordered blood tests, and sent me home. She called an hour later to say that the tests suggested possible liver and or gallbladder trouble and that she wanted an ultrasound. Liver trouble? Gall bladder trouble? What does that even mean?

In the case of my liver, the concern there is that proteins were found floating around which may or may not be from my liver, ergo, may or may not indicate liver trouble. If there’s trouble with the liver, then you enter a whole new world of medical issues. As for the gallbladder, basically the same thing, they found evidence that might suggest trouble in Gallbladder City. When I asked what that meant, Doc said that I might need to come in for surgery and two days recovery.

When we heard this, it weighed heavy on Katie and me. On the one hand, when faced with a medical emergency you do whatever it takes to be healthy and safe. If I had to go into the hospital for a few days, then it was for a good reason and we’d find a way to work with it. On the other hand, the thought of leaving Katie at home for three days with our newborn daughter and no team-buddy seemed daunting. Still, we knew she could do it and we knew we could rely on our friends and family for support, so that was a fear we put on hold until we found out more about what was going on.

We’ve had enough experience with the hospital this year to know that things can go pretty quickly from bad to worse. In case my ultrasound visit should result in a longer stay, Katie put together a go-bag for me. In it were a pair of pajamas, my journal, ebook, laptop, a few snack bars and a bottle of water. Not knowing what to expect, I embarked back across the river for my ultrasound.

The test only took a few minutes. A quick scan suggested everything looked healthy and I was sent home again. Doc called later, puzzled over the apparent contradiction between blood test and ultrasound, and asked me to return to the hospital for a CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis. It’s lucky we live so close to the hospital. I went. They inserted an IV and made me drink an iodine fluid for 30 minutes before the CT scan. The scan took about five minutes, and began with a dose of iodine into my IV. The iodine washes through your body and in about thirty seconds I felt flush, a sudden internal heat like I’d been caught red-handed and knew I was guilty, and then it passed and I went home.

Results suggested diverticulitis is the main cause of my discomfort, so the doc prescribed a pair of antibiotics, the diverticulitis clear liquid cleanse, and a few days of follow-up blood draws to track liver health. That was yesterday.

It’s been thirty-six hours since my last bite of solid food, a small bowl of rice with plum sauce. I haven’t had an appetite since about two days before that. It’s the pain in my gut that prevents me from feeling hungry, otherwise I don’t think I could manage a clear liquid diet.

The diverticulitis clear liquid diet is basically designed to give your intestines a break. I’ll drink water, broth, tea, and eat jello for three days before moving on to low-fiber foods for a few days and then back to a healthy high-fiber, high-water diet.

That’s the plan. There is a chance I might need to be admitted for a few days, if the pain doesn’t go down, if I’m not getting enough fluids, if the tests show something else. But for now, it’s clear liquids and rest.

Arabel is also on an all liquid diet with lots of rest.


On The Mend

September 30, 2012 – 12:49 am

After two days of antibiotics and three days on a liquid-only diet (with not much eating the two days before that) I’m happy to announce that I’m feeling better. Water and tea have been the main items. Broth was nice but even that put a strain on my guts, until this afternoon. I’m tingly all over like when you have the flu, that’s because I have an infection and it’ll pass in the next day or so.

I just ate a spoon of white rice, plain. We’ll see how my body reacts to it over the next few hours. If I buckle over in pain, then it’s clear liquids for another day. Otherwise I’ll begin trying other non- and low-fiber foods like white bread, salmon (!), eggs, more rice, and always lots of water. I can live on that for a while.


Have You Seen Your Spirit Guide?

October 1, 2012 – 4:46 am

(Rabbit!) As I write this it’s early Monday morning, October First. I’ve just had a full bowl of white rice with a spoon of plum sauce. It’s five days since Katie began full-time primary care for both Arabel and me. She’s had a great attitude and a deep well of perspicacity and I’m inspired to get well soon so I can spend more time with her.

As it is, I’ve spent a lot of time sleeping. And drinking water. And releasing water. Four days of liquid diet. On Saturday I ate a tablespoon of white rice. The energy it took for me to process that one bite, to run it through my colon, exhausted me for several hours. But the next bite was easier. On Sunday morning I ate a single slice of buttered white toast. Almost immediately I felt dizzy as the blood rushed down away from my head. But Sunday night I was bold and ate two scrambled eggs (neighborhood hens) between two slices of buttered white toast. This energized me for several hours before I crashed like a child after a day at Disneyland. Other than that it’s been water and sleep. I have an infection and it is the boss and that is strange. We are so fragile and strong at the same time.

I’m light headed, standing for too long makes me dizzy, just being awake is a little dizzy. I could not drive a car right now. I can walk a straight line if I go slowly. I’m weaker, too. I can feel it when I climb the stairs or hold Arabel for too long. It’s kind of cool. This is what fasting does. It’s tiring. And it is strange to spend time as a human who does not eat food, who does not even want food (because of the pain.) I expected this diet would make me crave food and for the first two days I wanted the comfort of eating but now I can hardly remember it, like trying to remember the outfit you wore in your first-grade photograph, so distant already.

The pain is nothing like it was, though it’s not totally gone yet. When food passes through me I feel the lump travel through my body, each part of me moving aside for the foreign substance coming through and then resuming its previous position when it has passed. But it no longer cripples me, which is nice. The more food I eat, the more nutrients I get, the stronger I get, the sooner I can be awake without being dizzy. Today is the fulcrum of my recovery: three days antibiotics; four days liquid diet; lots of rest; beginning to eat next-level foods.

While I’m in my stupor, Katie’s covering all the bases. I’m helping out for a few minutes here and there, but really, it’s all her. And she’s doing great. And we are having fun. I’m looking forward to a full recover soon so we can go for long walks in this beautiful autumn weather.