My Saturday began like any other — I headed to my Weight Watchers meeting. Had a .2lb loss, which I gladly took considering my week prior wasn’t that great. I went home, made my goals for the week, and headed off to the movies with my 7 year-old niece. I was making good on my promise to take her to the Justin Bieber movie.
At the movies, I ate some popcorn and some Goobers, my standard movie fare. I was planning on being “good” the rest of the week, so I splurged a little on those items. The movie wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. The theater was full of little girls who “ooh-d” and “ahh-d” at everything Justin did, just the way I did when I saw anything New Kids on the Block related back in the 80’s. We had a good time.
I came home, and cuddled with my son in the recliner. Around 6pm, I shifted in my seat and noticed a sharp pain in my abdomen. I’m mid-cycle, and wrote it off as an ovarian cyst. At 7pm, when I got up, I couldn’t stand up straight, and the pain was unbearable. I still thought it was a cyst (the size of an orange, probably) and decided to take a warm bath. The bath didn’t help, and I began to have a feeling that something more serious was happening.
I told my husband that I wanted to go to the hospital, and even though he accused me of being a little dramatic, he agreed to take me. As I was getting dressed, I began to feel light-headed and heard a whooshing sound in my ears. I managed to get some sweats on, piled in the car, and drove to the hospital, which is, thankfully, only a minute from my house.
When I arrived, I couldn’t walk, so I sat in a wheelchair. When I was finally taken back to an examination room, I was given two doses of morphine for the pain, which didn’t do anything. I vomited a bit until they gave me anti-nausea meds. I had a CAT Scan which showed that I had diverticulitis. Part of my colon had perforated, and there was fluid and two small air pockets in my abdomen. Not good.
A surgeon was consulted, and we decided to try strong IV antibiotics. The alternative was to do surgery to remove part of my colon, and to give me a colostomy bag for several months. Having an 11 month old child at home, I couldn’t imagine playing with him and protecting my bag. I lobbied hard to try meds. I was admitted right away, and hooked up to an IV with several bags of medication.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a private room. Within the first 30 minutes of being in my room (at 4am, mind you), my roommate sat on her commode and had explosive diarrhea. This happened almost every hour, every day. I felt so sorry for her, but the smell…oh, the smell! She was an older woman, very hard of hearing, who loved to gossip to her friends on the phone. I tried to talk to her, but she could never hear me. During one conversation with her friend, she said, “Oh, yes, I have a roommate, but she’s not friendly at all. All she does is sleep.” I wanted to scream, “LADY, I CAN TOTALLY HEAR YOU!” but I held back.
Anyway. There was a bit of a scare Sunday evening when my fever spiked, and the pain escalated, but by Tuesday morning, the pain was bearable. I missed my husband and son terribly (plus, I couldn’t stand the diarrhea smell anymore), and began lobbying to go home. My surgeon and other doctors agreed to let me go on the condition that I’d return to the hospital daily for IV antibiotics for several days, and then take oral ones for a while after that. I came home, and while I’m still in pain and weak, I’m so glad to be able to be with my boys.
I’m supposed to follow a low-residue diet for several weeks, and then I can introduce high fiber foods into my diet again. There are certain foods I have to avoid (things with small seeds, etc) for the rest of my life due to the diverticulitis.
One question that folks kept asking me in the hospital was: “How does someone your age (35) end up with this condition?” Normally, from what I understand, it occurs in older adults. As we age, the walls of our colon weaken, and are more prone to perforations.
I don’t know why this happened to me, but I suspect it’s in large part because I haven’t taken care of myself for my entire adult life. I didn’t pay attention to eating healthy foods, exercising, or anything like that. I ate what I wanted. I’m pretty sure that’s why I ended up with this.
That all changes now. I never want to have to face this issue again, to have to consider having a colostomy bag or having a part of me removed. As more than one nurse pointed out to me, I “dodged a bullet” here. I’m not taking that lightly.
Listen, we all know what we “should” eat, what’s healthy, what’s not. And sometimes we pay attention, sometimes we don’t. But we are only given one body, and we have to take care of it. I expect to live a LONG time, and I want to be healthy. I WILL be healthy. For me. For my family. No more half-assing this weight loss/get healthy journey.
For what it’s worth, I also blame the Bieber for my condition.