Sunday, July 27, 2014

Biopsy Results

During my colonoscopy there were several biopsies taken and the results are in. Thank you Lord!

Fortunately, my colon has no dysplasia, pre-cancerous or cancerous cells inspire of the bad inflammation and ulcers. I had not mentioned to anyone about the biopsies because I didn't want anyone to worry. I worried enough for all of us.

So, I guess the colonoscopy was a good thing as it showed me that I need to make changes and it did so before it was too late.

I am blessed in many ways...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Colonoscopy Results

Unfortunately, the results were not good, and imagine what it would have been like if I didn't complete my water/juice fast the 8 days prior.

My colon is very inflamed and there are several ulcers. There was a part of the colon that was so inflamed that Dr. Sigmon wasn't sure the endoscopy scope would fit through. After the colonoscopy, Dr. Sigmon came to speak with me and was recommending that I get biologic treatment. This is the level of medication I have spent the last three years trying to avoid. 

Because they suppress the immune system, all biologics carry an increased risk of infections, which in rare cases can be serious. Biologics are a type of drug called a TNF inhibitor. In rare cases, some people taking TNF inhibitors have developed certain cancers such as lymphoma.

Most infections that occur with biologic use are far less serious, such as colds, upper respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infections are common. Other common side effects are as follows:

  • headaches
  • flu-like symptoms
  • nausea
  • rashes
  • pain at the site of injection
  • infusion reactions
Ultimately, I'm so disappointed. I actually began feeling good, which likely means that many times in the past three years since my diagnosis, when I was feeling good, my colon was not healthy. So all of the times I might have cheated and began to loosen my strict diet, all of the times I felt I must have healed my ulcers and all of the times I knew that I was in remission, I probably was not.

So what does this mean? It likely means that my colon has been inflamed for three years. It probably means that if I continue doing what I've done for the last three years for the rest of my life, I will likely develop such a diseased colon that it would result in a colostomy or colon cancer.  Neither of course is the result I have been striving for.

What are my choices: get on meds the rest of my life, which will include biologics, because steroid treatment cannot be the long term solution, or find another holistic way.

Another holistic way will probably mean that I have to stick to the diet suggested by my holistic gastroenterologist. This basically means cutting out anything that really tastes good and eliminating all alcohol. No pasta, no cheese, no sweets, no chocolate. Only fruits and vegetables, along with only a couple grains, and nuts only when in remission. No sodas, or anything to drink other than juice and water.

Ultimately, this really changes ones life. Imagine asking an alcoholic to meet you for a drink at a bar. Well that will be how it will feel to go out to dinner with friends. There is seldom anything on the menu that will comply with Dr. Azar's recommended diet. The easiest way for an alcoholic to stay sober is to not frequent places that will present temptation. In the first few years of their sobriety, an alcoholic clearly avoids going to bars for any reason.

Maybe by year five, they have the will power to meet a bunch of friends at a bar, but realistically, by then, they don't have a bunch of friends that go to bars.

So, as I think about things, the best way for me to stick to what I must do to stay healthy, is to avoid going to places where food and drinks that I want are the main center of attraction. Think about most of your socializing events. Most often it is centered around food and alcohol. Candidly, I simply don't have the will power to attend these events without participating. So I'll avoid them.

What does that mean to my friendships? What does that mean for my relationships? What does this mean to my hopes of traveling to some countries and places I've never seen?

As you can probably tell, I'm very upset and disappointed. I realize I have to do what I have to do, but doing it will mean many changes, and these changes will definitely effect my relationships.

Imagine not wanting to go to your boyfriend's place because of the food he has there may tempt you? Friends invite you over for dinner and drinks and you have to bring a bowl of cantaloupe to eat and pass on the dinner.  Isn't that fun?? No, it isn't. So I might as well not go.

What about my thought of returning to Paris next summer? Well how am I going to do that if there isn't any restaurants where I can eat? Good luck traveling anywhere for that matter unless I bring my Vitamix and juicer and go to the local grocery store for all my meals.

This is what I see happening in the near future, and it saddens me to think what will become of some of some of my relationships, and some of my hopes and dreams...

I guess I have to start working on new dreams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Days Preparing for my Colonoscopy

I made an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor on Monday. Dr. Suri after reading my history and looking at the medication I was on, immediately knew what was causing the problem. Evidently, one of the medications I was taking for Crohn's, budesonide, creates a lot of acid. And the acid can escalade up the GI tract to the throat. This acid burned my throat and the burning of the throat caused the inflammation.

What I did the days after being diagnosed with laryngitis and pharyngitis, only made the situation worse. I really stopped eating and drinking much because it hurt to swallow. So my healing diet, or my juice diet, is filled with alkaline forming foods, and if I were to have continued with this, I\ would likely have helped to neutralize the acid.


So, from now on, when I take budesonide, I have to take another medication to help offset the acid side effect. Gosh darn. Another med, when all I want is to get off of them.

In any regard, at least I found the cause of the problem and then therefore could do something to manage it. I was put on a heavy duty antacid and soon my voice became normal. Dr. Suri warned me that the acid burn in the throat would take weeks to heal, however, so it was important to keep additional acid from getting to my throat, which meant that I have to stick to alkaline forming foods or stay on the antacid for about 6 weeks.

Now all of this happened very close to the time in which I would be preparing for a colonoscopy, which I had today. But before I get to the results of the colonoscopy, I do want to share with you what I decided to do to prepare for it.

I took a few days off work and spent it on what I call a healthy retreat. I get out of Charlotte, and away from all my responsibilities. My objective there is to relax and to fast. This gives my GI tract a rest and allows my nerve energy to focus on healing versus my work and home responsibilities.

I have done this once before, and it did wonders for my gut. It is not just to get away from responsibilities, but it also to be in a place, with no food or temptations. The first three days, I water fast, then the next several days, I juice fast. The last time I did this was over 2 years ago and it is the time in which I transitioned off all medication.

That was my plan for this health retreat as well. Last Wednesday, the 9th, I left Charlotte and went to Myrtle Beach. I started my water fast Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. after having a morning juice. The balance of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I would only drink water. Friday through today, I would have no solid foods. This gives my colon a well needed rest, but it also means that my colon will not likely get worse because I am giving it nothing to react to.

Therefore, beginning Tuesday, I also stopped taking all medication. Below is how I managed my fast:

Tues-Thurs:  Only water with zero dissolved solids. Meaning pure water.

Friday: Only melon juice. After having nothing in my GI tract, I wanted to introduce only the easiest to digest juice.

Saturday: Alkaline forming fruit juice only, not including any citrus or acid fruits. I clearly don't want acid affecting my throat so alkaline forming fruits were a must. Additionally, any citrus or acid fruits such as oranges and pineapple, aggravate the GI tract even if they are alkaline forming. So those fruits are not allowed.

Sunday:  I added vegetable juice. Again I stayed with alkaline forming vegetables. Vegetable juice is a little tougher to digest, so this was added only after my GI tract was introduced to the easy to digest fruit juice. Any veggies with oxalic acid is to be avoided because it irritates the GI tract.

Monday and Tuesday: Only clear liquid fruit juice because I was preparing for the Tuesday afternoon colonoscopy. I had to buy juice, versus juicing this myself because the cloudy color associated with freshly juiced fruit, versus juice from concentrate. So I got some apple and white grape juice in addition to some vegetable broth.

Other than what I drank on Monday and Tuesday morning, I cold press juiced organic fruits and vegetables only.

So, after all of this, you'd think that I did everything possible to prepare for the best colonoscopy ever, wouldn't you? Well, it's about my bed time, so I will post the results of the colonoscopy tomorrow, or Thursday at the latest. And finally, I will then be caught up on my progress.

Stay tuned again...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emergency Room Visit

It has been a long time since I've posted anything, but mostly because I have been feeling sick for a long time now. Crohn's symptoms started in April. I debated on naming this blog entry, "Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired,"

So in April, after experiencing some Crohn's symptoms I went to my strict healing diet. Things didn't seem to get better and my fatigue grew worse. I tried a juice diet and my fatigue seemed to get even worse. Therefore, I found myself visiting my gastoenterologist to get back on meds. My first visit was May 9.

They put me back on the same meds that worked the last time I had a flare up over two years ago: budesonide and mesalamine. Budesonide is a steroid and mesalamine is an anti-inflammatory. Both act primarily in the gut. As in the past, they began to work in just a couple of days.

I did something I probably shouldn't have done, but used the time on the meds as a time to eat some of my favorite foods: lasagna, nachos with lots of cheese including queso, shrimp and ice-cream. But after eating these foods, I returned to my healing diet so that I can get back off of the meds as quickly as possible.

Early June I was having soreness in my throat, and began to lose my voice. I visited my primary care physician, Dr. Teague, and she diagnosed me with laryngitis and pharyngitis. I seem to always gets sick with something when I'm on these meds, so I wasn't surprised that here I was again with some other illness. Dr. Teague prescribed me  hycodan, which was a cough syrup with codeine.

June 17 I returned to my primary care physicians and saw the PA because I couldn't get in to see the doctor. At this, not only do I have no voice, but my throat hurts so much that I stopped drinking and eating much because it was hard to swallow, I was fatigued and getting fevers put to 102 degrees, almost every day. The PA indicated that it was possible that I had an infection and she prescribed hydorcodone-acetaminophen  for pain and azithromycin 6-Pak for the infection.

On June 21, I woke up and could hardly breathe. My throat was so inflamed that air was not passing properly. Every day from the 17th to the 21st, my air passage seemed to get smaller and smaller, but this Saturday morning I was scared. I layer around all morning in hopes that it might get better.

My boyfriend, Rich, was at a seminar, and I didn't want to bother him and I was supposed to meet my friends Maria and Todd to help them look for a home. But I texted Maria and cancelled, as I was giving it a little bit more time before I took myself to urgent care. Unfortunately, things seemed to get worse. I was weasing so bad that I knew I wasn't getting enough air. Maria convinced me that she should drive me to urgent care, and in hindsight I am very happy she did.

I'm not used to having anyone help me with anything. I've been so self sufficient for so long that it feels like I am burdening others when I rely upon them, so I just simply don't ask for help and I handle things on my own. In this case, it was evident that I needed help.

Off we went to the urgent care. The quickly got me to see a doctor due to the difficulty breathing I was having, and the doctor immediately gave me a couple shots: a steroid to reduce the inflammation, and an antibiotic to take immediate action if there was a bacteria infections. He suspected that I might have epiglottitis.  Epiglottitis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis, a small cartilage "lid" that covers your windpipe, swells, blocking the flow of air into your lungs.

Many things can cause the epiglottis to swell, including burns from hot liquids, injury to the throat, and various infections. Ultimately, this is a serious condition.

The doctor at urgent care insisted on me going to the emergency room to further investigate the cause. He wanted me to take an ambulance, but Maria was there so I preferred to go with her.

I arrive at the emergency room, and already the meds that urgent care had given me were beginning to work. I was breathing much better, but still was concerned what would happen when the steroid wore off. I definitely didn't want the swelling to return. 

The doctor order blood work and a CT scan of my throat. The blood work came back showing I was severely anemic with hemoglobin at 8.6. gm/dL. Normal for me is 11.7. I have never been this anemic, even when I was a walking zombie with severe active Crohn's. The doctor indicated that hemoglobin this low, after having normal levels during my May 9 doctors appointment, is usually due to bleeding. 

She even insisted on checking my stool for blood because she wasn't believe it could be just from my diet, or lack of eating since my throat began to hurt, or my Crohn's since I appear to be in remission. But no blood was there. 

The CT scan showed a clear passageway, which I suspected would be the case because I was breathing fine by the time of the CT scan. So, ultimately, the emergency room doctor didn't diagnose the cause, but did find that I was anemic. She put me on prednisone to keep my throat from swelling again, and iron supplements to improve my hemoglobin, and suggested that I go to an ear, nose and throat specialist to help determine the cause of swelling.

On Monday, that is what I did. Stay tuned...