Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 4 Without Meds

It's November 3, 2011 and this is the fourth day that I have not taken any medication. I'm not sure where to begin, except I know that when I was diagnosed with Crohn's less than two months ago I was told I'd likely be on medicine to control the Crohn's symptoms for the rest of my life. Almost everything I've read about this disease is horrible. I quickly had to come to terms that I had ulcers in my large intestine that even if they heal temporarily, they will likely return; that medication would become a daily routine just to control the symptoms that when not controlled create more pain and discomfort than child birth; and that Crohn's will make the rest of my life miserable and take years off of my life. This seemed to be common knowledge among all the experts and "facts" about the disease that I am now being asked to accept.

Ironically, my first reaction when I heard the diagnosis on September 12 was that this is good news. Thank God it's not cancer. On September 13 I met with my Gastroenterologist, Dr. Sigmon, who preformed the colonoscopy. He indicated that my inflammation was severe. It was one week ago when I had the colonoscopy and Dr. Sigmon suspected the diagnosis at that time. He prescribed Budesonide (Entocort) a corticosteroid and Mesalamine (Asacol) an anti-inflammatory. These two prescriptions cost me $150 each and that is after my insurance took care of about 80% of the cost. Wow! Now I was on a total of four different meds. These two new ones and two that had prior been prescribed. One was to assist with my upset gut and the other was an antibiotic because of a prior stool sample showing signs of an infection.

On September 13, Dr. Sigmon had my blood tested and I received a call from the P.A. Tanya Williams to review the results. My Sediment Rate was 67. A Sediment Rate is the rate in which red blood cells settle a the bottom of the test tube. The higher the rate, the greater the amount of inflammation in the body.  My Sediment Rate of 67 is considered very high, therefore indicating a significant amount of inflammation presumably due to my severe flare up of Crohn's. A normal rate is under 20 for women.  I had only been on all of the meds for one week, so it is understandable that the intestinal inflammation was significant. My Hemoglobin was 10.9, which is low. Basically this means I'm slightly anemic due to my body not producing red blood cells. This is pretty common at this stage of Crohn's.

Before I met with Dr. Sigmon this day, I researched all of the meds that I had been prescribed and pretty much knew that the diagnosis was either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's. When I arrived to discuss this horrible disease with Dr. Sigmon, I came prepared with many many questions. The most important question I had was regarding how I can live a normal life without all this medication. I respect and am very thankful for Dr. Sigmon, but living with Crohn's and without medication is not his expertise. Medical Doctors treat illnesses and diseases with medication and there is no pharmaceutical cure for Crohn's, so although he seemed to want to support me, I wasn't hearing the answers I wanted to hear.

So how is it that less than two months later I am living without medication and symptom free? How is it that my Sediment Rate has been reduced to 36 at my first followup visit after my diagnosis?

I will answer this and more, as well as discuss the changes in my life since symptoms first began in early 2011.

My primary purpose for beginning this blog is to help others who have Crohn's or ulcerative colitis understand that they don't have to be in pain and live with symptoms or meds for the rest of your their lives. There are alternatives.... it's your life! It's your choice! Do you want to live with or without Crohn's?

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