Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Upcoming Colonoscopy, My Liver and My Dog...

This might be a lengthy blog and half of which may not appear to relate to Crohn's, but does. Let's start by explaining a situation that began when I was first getting diagnosed with Crohn's, which was about 3 years ago. When my doc was trying to figure out what was wrong with me, I had a sonogram done of my organs and there were two spots on my liver, which likely had nothing to do with my Crohn's diagnosis, but gave them some concern.

The radiologist at the time suggested a CT scan to confirm what these spots might be. Well... I'm not one to expose my self of unnecessary radiation especially when at the time I was severely ill and these spots were believed to have nothing to do with my illness.

So I asked for alternatives. An MRI was also an option. Ultimately, there might be risk with me getting an MRI because I have metal in my body due to a leg break years ago, and no one could tell me whether or not an MRI would be risky. So I passed on the MRI and focused on my current illness, which I shortly thereafter found out was Crohn's.

Two weeks ago Friday is when I had a doctor's appointment due to my current flare up. At that time, I asked if we could do a follow up sonogram to check on these liver spots. They agreed it made sense to see if there had been any change or not.

This past Friday I had a follow up appointment and the results of the recent sonogram are in and there has been no change. Therefore, they are concluding that they are hemangiomas. Hemangiomas are a benign tumors of blood vessels that usually occur within the first weeks of life and are fully developed within twelve months. So that was great news! Yay.

Another discussion point of my follow up appointment was associated with having a colonoscopy. I recall three years ago after my diagnosis when I inquired about the frequency of colonoscopies, that Dr. Sigmon recommended having them every five years. So I was surprised and confused when he then suggested that I have one now, only 3 years later.

Evidently, he believes it would be wise to ensure that the way I have been managing the disease isn't causing long term repercussions. The five year colonoscopy recommendation was based upon someone staying in remission on meds, and with continued medical treatment and observation. He's concerned that it's possible that although I have been managing symptoms, that chronic inflammation could be causing repercussions. And since we haven't had regular tests associated with inflammation, it might be wise to see what has happened in the past three years to my colon.

If things look great, then it is the news I need to continue on my holistic path. If things have gotten worse, than I will likely begin changing my course a little. Meaning, I may decide to stick to my healing diet for life, or give up some other things in my post healing diet. It also will mean that I'll get blood work done at least once every 3 months to monitor my inflammation. So I agreed to do the colonoscopy in order for me to know what to do in the future to reduce my risk of colon cancer and to  keep my colon as good as it can be.

I decided until that time, I would go back on my "Healing Diet." I want my colon to be in the best state possible for this colonoscopy. Therefore, no cheating, no drinking, no grains. Only alkaline forming fruits and veggies. Veggies have to be juiced or steamed. I started this on Friday immediately after agreeing to the colonoscopy. I have until mid-July to get the healthiest colon possible :)

Now... what does my dog have to do with my Crohn's. Well, see the poster below:

Rich and I went to his brothers home in Greenville on Sunday and didn't return until about midnight. Zadie, was gone. Zadie can fit through the pickets of the fence that was originally designed to confine her. One day a couple months ago, she got so excited to see me driving up to the garage, she just walked right through the pickets to greet me.

I bought some bird netting and attached it to the bottom of the fence at the gate, but I didn't do so for the entire fenced yard. She likes being home and I didn't think that she would just leave, so I decided I would test the netting at the gate. Well, after some successful tests, I decided I didn't need the netting around the entire perimeter of the fence.

To arrive home Sunday night and her nowhere in sight was devastating. I fell apart blaming myself and fearful that she was hit by a car or something bad happened. Rich and I spent about two hours searching for her in the neighborhood and those surrounding. I hated to do this, but new that if I couldn't find her dead in or by any street, then maybe there was a chance of her still being alive.

A little over a year ago, I lost my little 14 year old dog Rusty, and blame myself for his death. I believe he died of a heart attack, but I knowingly left him with a friend during a time where there was a lot of chaos. My gut told me that I should take Rusty with me, instead of leaving him there at the time. So I can't help but feel guilty about his death.

Now, my new little baby girl is gone and my gut feeling before we left for Greenville Sunday morning was to take her with us. She had never been left home for that long. Between what my gut was telling me that morning, and the fact I hadn't secured the entire fenced yard with bird netting, I again know that it was my fault why she was gone.

We drove every street calling her name. Checked the community pool, and walked the conservation area boardwalk. Pointing the flashlight everywhere as we called her name, and there was no Zadie. I cannot tell you how bad I was feeling. The stress of the guilt that this little baby girl might be dead somewhere because of me.

I made the poster above. Printed 20 copies on a thick photo paper I had in preparation of posting them throughout the neighborhood the next day. I had business cards that Rich made notes on about Zadie so we could also hand them out throughout the community.

Before going to sleep around 2:30 a.m., I opened both gates to the back yard and put one of her toys at the front porch in hopes that if she was still alive, she would return home. Inside the home, I had a gate at the stairs so that when we were in Greenville, she wouldn't hang out upstairs. But I removed that praying that she was alive, and when she returned home she would come upstairs and find me.

About 3 a.m. I still hadn't fallen a sleep. I had a headache so terrible, and I couldn't stop crying, I thought I was dreaming when I heard some pitter patter coming from down stairs. The next thing I know, I was certain I heard her little feed in the room. I immediately jumped out of bed and thank God. She was there.

She was a little dirty and panting as if she was very stressed or very tired from running.

On Monday, Rich and I proceeded to attach the balance of the bird netting on the fence so that we can ensure this doesn't happen again.

I still wonder where she was and why she didn't hear us calling her over and over. Where could she have been that she couldn't hear us? I'm so proud of her to have found her way home and am grateful of the outcome.

Now, what does this have to do with Crohn's? The stress of the situation, added to a lack of sleep between Saturday and Sunday nights, set me back a little. It was very evident based upon the frequency and consistency of my bowel movements that I had gotten worse. Yet, I was on my healing diet since Friday, so why was my Crohn's the balance of Sunday night as well as through Monday worse? The only thing I can think of is the amount of nerve energy used by the stress.

It didn't help that I couldn't sleep Saturday night due to muscle aches and pains that are unfortunately a common side effect I have since my Crohn's diagnosis.

My lesson learned: stress management has soooo much to do with your health.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Meds Again

My last post was about water fasting to avoid a flare and you haven't heard from me since. That is because, unfortunately, I didn't avoid the flare up like I had hoped and I have felt so bad, I haven't had the energy to post. Sorry.

I began to feel a little better after the water fast, but then things went back down hill. I transitioned after two days of water, to a juice diet for four days. Then I implemented my healing diet.

Things began to get a little better, but all the symptoms still remained through last week and I found myself only working about 4 hours per day and needing at least 14 hours sleep and a nap each day.

Unfortunately, I decided to go back on meds. It has been almost 2 years in which I management my Crohn's without meds, so I'm so disappointed. Yet, I have to consider it a success as how many people do you know that can manage Crohn's or US without meds for 2 years?

I intend to get into remission and then wean off the meds and try again. Hopefully I can go the rest of my life off meds this next time.

I'm on budesonide and mesalamine, which are the meds prescribed for Crohn's that have the least amount of side effects. Only two days on the meds and I already feel an improvement. I've made it 12 hours without a nap. That has't occurred in two weeks.