Friday, September 17, 2010

So. Tuesday night I noticed I was having some abdominal pain. Meh, I said to myself, must've been running too hard, with not enough warm-up (the infamous runner's trots--supposedly caused by short-term ischemia to the bowels as all the blood goes rushing to your quads and hams--as a former cross country coach once said, "If you don't finish each race with a sprint to the bathroom, you haven't been pushing hard enough." But I digress). Pain continued throughout the night, along with the onset of...comment ce dit?...guess there's no polite way to put it...diarrhea. And, as the night progressed, increasingly large quantities of blood. Tried eating a little something and promptly vomited. Around six am I was doubled over in pain, and seriously considered getting my happy ass in the car and driving to the Barnes ER. "No, don't blow this out of proportion," I told myself. "Wait until eight and go to Student Health."

Went to SH. Reported severe abdominal pain and presence of blood. Was sent home with antibiotics and a presumptive diagnosis of C. diff colitis. Only problem: I've smelled C. difficile diarrhea on an ER rotation. It has what textbooks refer to as either a "foul" or an "offensive" odor; the resident I was working with in the ER described it as a "freaking nasty-ass smell that you will never, ever forget." I was not producing said smell. I was sent home with a prescription for Flagyl and a 'stool specimen collection kit' (so a C. diff assay could be sent for confirmation). Went home, took a day's worth of the prescribed metronidazole (a medication that is itself almost as nasty as what it's intended to treat). Couldn't eat; even the thought of eating made me want to hurl--though whether that was the abdominal pain, the Flagyl, or some sort of gastroenteritis component of the picture remains unclear. This continued for the next 24 hours; I could drink water and diet Sprite, but that was it. Not even my beloved diet Coke was a possibility. :(

Re-presented to Student Health Thursday morning, still in severe pain and still passing blood--and now orthostatic, having been unable to eat (and limited in my ability to drink) for more than a day. Received several liters of IV fluids and an abdominal CT. Had a colonoscopy scheduled for Friday. Got the results of Wednesday's C. diff assay back--negative, just as I'd suspected. Was sent home with a colonoscopy prep (I fear I may have been a little rude to the nurse when she gave me the large bottle of MiraLax for the bowel prep. I furrowed my brow and said, "This is a joke, right?" I mean, I'm running to the bathroom every few minutes, and at this point all I'm producing is blood--not to be grotesque, but essentially a period that took a wrong turn and ended up coming out the wrong orifice. And you're giving me a laxative? Get on with your bad self).

The colonoscopy itself will be the subject of the next entry in our series.

At this point I have missed more days of Surgery than I have attended; however, it would've been absolutely impossible to work 1) doubled over in pain and 2) running to the bathroom every 20 minutes.

On the plus side, after almost four days of virtually no intake, I think I've lost most (if not all) of the weight I put on last spring when I quit smoking. Not to spoil the surprise that comes with the results of the colonoscopy, but the New-Onset Ulcerative Colitis Diet, while freakishly painful and deeply disturbing, is also super effective.

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