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Monday, April 1, 2013

Between a Block and a Hard Place

Thankfully, I finally got over the bug or whatever it was that was causing all the yucky tummy issues and ER trips... but in classic Semi-Colon form, my body has come up with a new complication. Last Tuesday night, I got a bad obstruction. I know exactly why I got it, and it's my own fault, so I feel kind of irritated with myself. :( I was a guest and was offered a bowl of cooked carrots.

My Downfall
I LOVE veggies, but I really can't eat them raw without getting an obstruction. With UC, I couldn't eat high-fiber, "roughage" type foods. I had a few months after my colectomy when I could eat apples and salad and anything... then I started getting obstructions and had to learn to say no to high-fiber foods once again. Until recently, cooked carrots were on my list of "safe" veggies (veggies I can eat without obstructing)... but even they've started giving me trouble over the last several weeks. So I KNEW I should probably say no... but I really wanted to eat them and I was hungry and didn't want to be rude and I chewed them really well... and I got an obstruction.

I was up for most of the night pacing and drinking pickle juice and standing in the shower and using the heating pad and jumping and drinking hot chocolate (not all of these activities were performed simultaneously). I was completely obstructed and the pain was sharp enough to leave me breathless and doubled over. I came pretty close to going to the ER, but thankfully, I was able to tough it out at home, and after several hours, things started moving again. It took a few painful hours for the carrots to work their way out of my system.

Delicious, but not so nutritious
Usually, I have total relief from the pain as soon as the blockage passes, and it's just the most beautiful feeling! This time, however, while I felt much better, I could feel that the narrowed area of intestine was really inflamed and unhappy, so I took it easy with the food the next day - liquids and pudding only. The following day, I decided to get crazy and added a little bit of grilled chicken to my diet. This was met with much protestation and another obstruction, so I went back to liquids and pudding only. Over last weekend, things didn't really get better - I continued to have partial obstructions every time I tried eating anything more substantial than liquids -- and even things like rice cakes were causing obstructions. On Monday, Dr. FancyPants' nurse redeemed herself for her Potassium Snafu by promptly returning my call, relaying a message from Dr. FancyPants and giving me her direct number. Dr. FancyPants recommended sticking to liquids for a few more days. He had me get some bloodwork and gave me instructions to go to the ER if things got at all worse, and to call in a few days with an update.

Things seemed to calm down, and as I stuck to a completely liquid diet, I had a few days with less pain in the narrowed area of intestine. My bloodwork came back okay (slightly high white count, but that's my norm), so I called the doctor and left a good report. Sadly... things are not going at all better as I try to add in a few gluten-free ginger cookies and stuff... partial obstruction every time. Super frustrating... and I'm getting pretty hungry. ;) The last time I had "real" food was 11 days ago when I had that chicken.

When I get a blockage, I can feel exactly where the obstruction is - and it's nearly always in this one certain spot, likely an area of narrowing from scar tissue. It's been giving me progressively more and more trouble since my obstruction in November, and my list of "safe" foods has grown shorter. I think that this obstruction made my intestines irritated and swollen, so the narrow area is even narrower than usual. I would have thought that the swelling would have gone down after a few days on liquids only... but I guess not. At this point, I really don't know what to do... I don't know how much longer I can do an all-liquids diet. I'm probably going to have to talk to the doctor again this week and see what he says. Last week, he pointed out that unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done short of surgery, and surgery in my case is a last resort -- done only if the obstruction becomes life-threatening. Surgery is also NOT a long-term fix for this issue... sure, they'd be able to free up/resect the area of blocked intestine, but each surgery causes more scar tissue to grow, which can cause more obstructions down the road.

I worry that it's only a matter of time until I become completely obstructed again and wind up in the hospital facing surgery. Not that any hospital experiences are fun, but my obstruction in November was particularly unpleasant. And NO ONE wants me to go under the knife again. I will be responsible with my diet, but ultimately, I am not in control of this - God is. Last time I had an obstruction, nothing specific that I ate caused it. And just when surgery seemed imminent and inevitable, God caused the blockage to pass on its own. I am confident that He can heal me and open up this narrowed area if that is His will. And if not...well...it's been nearly 11 months since my last surgery, so I'm probably about due for another one. JUST KIDDING.... I pray that if it's His will, this obstruction will pass... ;) But if not, His will, not mine be done.

Hannah ;)

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