Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It Feels Like There's A Semi In My Colon

I've found out in the last year that I have chronic diverticulitis.  Basically, worn spots on my large intestine (colon) that bulge out and can collect 'debris' and become infected and inflamed.  Lovely imagery right there.  You're welcome!

They used to think that eating things that would easily get caught in those pouches was the culprit but not anymore.  Yes, they do recommend eating food high in fiber to cleanse the intestines/colon as it passes through but popcorn hulls, nuts and the like are no longer believed to cause the condition.

What a relief because I -love- microwave popcorn with movie theater butter as a nightly snack.

The real problem with diverticulitis when it becomes chronic is that doctors start talking surgery after about the second or third time it  flares up.   I can't think of many things that sound worse than having part of your bowels cut out.  It sounds like something they used to do in medieval times to torture folks.

Diverticulitis is actually pretty serious business.  Most people have those pouches by middle age and don't even realize it because for whatever reason (luck) they don't become infected and inflamed.  But for those of us who are not that fortunate, it can become life threatening.

Our bowel could perforate and allow fecal matter into the abdomen.  Our colon could become blocked and feces would then move up into our stomach.  An abscess could form, infecting our intestines and possibly the entire abdominal cavity.  All of these are emergency situations and require a hospital stay and/or surgery. 

The pain of diverticulitis comes on suddenly - there is no warning at all.  One moment you're moving around fine and then it feels as if a knife is being stabbed into your lower abdomen, usually on the left side but it can be the right or across both, just above the pelvis.  Once that initial stabbing sensation happens, it only gets worse over the course of minutes and hours.

Not only will you have ferocious pain but you'll be unable to stand straight up, your body instinctively hunching over as it tries to protect the area.  Each small movement of your body sends another hot knife into the area.  You'll have the worst diarrhea ever and lots of it.  You will feel feverish, run a temperature and be nauseated, sometimes enough to throw up.  

You have to be seen by a doctor, usually in an ER setting.   They'll do a Cat Scan which will show the inflamed pouches.  They give fluids, antibiotics (two different kinds) and pain medication through an I.V.  By this time, you're begging for those pain meds that you hate to take any other time. 

You'll be sent home with those two antibiotic prescriptions in oral form and orders to rest for the next few days.  Drink lots of water and eat soft foods, liquids, to give your intestines a break so they can heal.  You'll be told to come back at the least change for the worse.  And they mean it - do not question yourself, don't put it off, come back in immediately.

So, because it can turn ugly in a few different ways and relatively quickly, surgery becomes a discussion in short order.  I'm afraid of surgery, anesthesia to be specific, because of prior history.  I do not want to have this conversation with my Gastrointestinal doctor, nor a surgeon.  I'm well aware that surgery while healthy is a much better option than in emergency circumstances but that doesn't ease my mind much.

Right now, I'm going to focus on getting better from this bout of diverticulitis and go from there.  As for the picture I've included at the top?  I have a laundry list of illness and disease and still, it's too often some new problem, some fresh hell.   Plus, I love Sheldon Cooper's sense of humor.  You can't go wrong quoting him!

Monday, November 25, 2013


I love finding funny or serious or even sad meme pictures that I can somehow relate to my life and/or the illnesses that I have.  Those little pictures seem to reach out with their words of wisdom, sadness, snark and laughter.

When I peruse the other blogs that I follow, I enjoy looking at pictures that people have chosen to use as a visual for where their mind and heart are at, in the moment. 

I came across this post yesterday and it was as if I had written it.  I think all of us who write a chronic illness blog can find ourselves in what she had to say.  We want so much to be able to commit to our blogs, share our experiences with others, and even find a measure of therapeutic relief with the spill of conscious thought.

But sometimes, by the very nature of having a disease, being sick, we cannot formulate cohesive thought and get the words onto the screen.   We're in pain and weak and tired so we promise ourselves that tomorrow we'll be better, do better.  

After some thought, I realized that it's okay (and not lazy at all) to post those meme pictures and either a brief caption beneath or nothing at all.  Sometimes, those pictures can say all of our words for us. 

Physician Wisdom Is Not Always An Oxymoron

One Of The Most Important & Informative Letters A Person With Chronic Illness Will Ever Read

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cover Girl & Clairol

This picture reminds me of two fibromyalgia patients sitting next to one another in their shared purgatory of yet another doctor's appointment.

It's symbolic of how we look on the inside showing up on the outside - messy, smeared and blurry.   How we attempt to hide the physical manifestation of a disease but the truth is there to be seen:  Pale skin, a grimacing twist of the lips, hollow and pain dulled eyes that still  manage to convey our anger, shock and disgust with what is happening to our bodies.

There is a kinship, two strangers and yet they know things about one another that nobody else does, or understands, like they do. 

Therein lies the sense of ironic amusement to be found in my interpretation of the meme - we know the brutal truth of our circumstances and we still look over at the next guy and give a thumbs up to their frightful hair.  

Sleep Apnea & The Mean Machine

I found out a long time ago that I have sleep apnea.  After two different surgeries, the last one just a few months ago, I was told that it was pretty bad and to have a sleep test done as soon as possible.  I had that done and it was confirmed - I quit breathing over 40 times an hour while I slept.  It was classified as severe apnea and a machine was ordered.

I've had it for about two weeks now and I'll admit, I don't like it much.  I'm not a doctor but I feel like the pressure setting once I'm asleep is too high as it can actually startle me out of sleep when it pumps a rush of air into my lungs.

It dries out my mouth and nose - I'm a mouth breather while I sleep so I have to use a full face mask.  And by the way, when I've watched Youtube videos about the different varieties of face masks, they make mouth breathers sound like knuckle dragging cavemen.  Like we can help it when our jaw flops open at 2 a.m.

I've heard from friends and family that either use an apnea machine or know someone who does, how much they love it and how well it works.  That they've gotten the best sleep they can remember. 

Why isn't this happening for me yet?  Why do I struggle to fall asleep at all and why do I wake up in a panic in the middle of the night, already reaching for the mask to yank it off because it feels like I have an iron lung breathing for me?  Why am I not feeling refreshed, ready to jump out of bed and sing with the birds each morning?  And why does my tongue feel like it died whenever I wake up?

I really looked forward to getting the sleep apnea machine.  I want this to work and to help make me feel even a little better.  I know it's not going to be the magic cure for my fibromyalgia, IBS, hypothyroidism or anything else that's on the 'wrong with me' list.  But, if it allowed me a good night's rest so I could start over every morning in my quest to cope with being ill, that would be fantastic.

I guess I just need to keep trying.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Like The Word Recluse

Okay, so I did this list of my favorite love story movies here on the blog and that took up a lot of time and space.  But, I enjoyed it and sometimes it's good to get away from the subject of chronic illness, which is, over all, what this blog is about.

While writing those much more fun posts over the past few weeks, there have been some developments with my health that I want to share.  Also, I've read some great blog posts in that time that I'd like to point my readers to.  And lastly, some research and studies that I've stumbled upon.  The next few posts will be about all of that stuff.

To start with, I thought I would share something that I told my Love recently and maybe some of you can relate as well:

Most of the time, I'm okay with what I can do now. I have a better handle on the limitations and I don't let them get me down like they did even months ago.  I've felt like, and even said - it's fortunate that I'm a homebody type of person and always have been. It's the one area where my personality actually meshes with having a disease that debilitates.

That said, there are times that I want to go and do things. I want to get out of the house and go shopping for a few hours, out to lunch or a movie.  Spend time with friends or family.  I want to breathe the air outside and smell which season it is.  I recently learned that I'm vitamin D deficient and I'm not even surprised since I rarely get out to feel the sun on my skin.

Learning to manage this life has been a struggle.  It's better now but I have my moments. I still push too hard at times.  More often though, I lay down, sit down, rest or say no, cut things shorter than I once would have, or I don't go.

I've tried to narrow my world into exactly who is most important to me, doing what means most to me, what makes me happy.. realizing that energy levels and pain play such a big part in my decision making now.

And I'm okay with that almost always.. but once in a while, that world seems to close in on me and I want to be a butterfly for a little while. Or now and then, I watch those I love and their wider world and I want to join them in it so much.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Favorite 'Love Story' Movies: #1

The Bridges of Madison County - Starring:  Clint Eastwood & Meryl Streep

IMDB Link: The Bridges of Madison County 

8Track Love Movie Playlist 

My favorite song from the movie:  I See Your Face Before Me by Johnny Hartman

Why I love the movie:  The first time I watched this movie, years ago now, I sobbed until it hurt.  Since then, I've seen it many times and the same holds true.  I cannot watch it without a little piece of me breaking.

This film, by far, gives the truest depiction of most women's lives as a wife and a mother.  We sacrifice more than our family will ever know, we lose parts of ourselves, our own definition, by those sacrifices for others.  We are taken for granted and overlooked.  We are rarely asked if we're happy as a person, if we're fulfilled as a woman.

Our families, most often, do not know that woman - our hopes and dreams, things we gave up and left behind, what hurts us and what makes us giggle.  They don't know that a certain song can make us cry in the bathroom because it brings back a memory.  They don't know that we sing really loud and dance around the kitchen when we're alone because we've been told we're embarrassing when they're home.

Francesca is a beautiful, passionate woman who has forgotten her own needs in the day to day details of  life.  Her husband knows her as his wife and the mother to his children but one realizes while watching that he doesn't know her.

But, Robert does.   He comes down the dusty lane one day and within one drive to the bridge and back, he has fallen in love with everything Francesca is.

Francesca and Robert are not young.  They're in the middle of their lives when they finally find their soul mate and they get only four days to live a lifetime of love.  It's beautiful and heart breaking.

I cannot sit here and write this without feeling tears sting my eyes as I think about the end of the movie.  Francesca's trembling hand gripping the door knob, her knuckles white.  Her eyes huge and puddled with tears.  Meryl Streep doesn't say a word in this scene but she doesn't need to.  Her face and body eloquently speak the depth of love, pain and how fragile she is in the moment.

It is her biggest and final sacrifice for her family.  You don't know whether to love her more for her strength of character and her obvious love for them or to scream and rail when she doesn't open the door and run across the street in the pouring rain to jump into Robert's truck.

I love that this book is about her adult children reading their mother's journals, reading the story of her and Robert's love and finally getting to know her as a woman.  I think it's important for children to know who their mother is or was, once they too are adults and can understand choices and sacrifices she made for them.

This movie is not the typical love story at all.  However, it is the one movie I would most recommend anyone watch - male or female, young or old, married or single.  You'll realize that even if it takes years,until death inevitably finds them, soul mates will find a way to be together eternally.

I couldn't choose just one favorite quote from the movie so I've included a few.  The writing is so real and true to a once in a lifetime love, if we're lucky enough to ever find that one person created to be our match:

Francesca: "I had thoughts about him I hardly knew what to do with, and he read every one. Whatever I wanted, he gave himself up to, and in that moment everything I knew to be true about myself was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before."

Robert: "This kind of certainty comes but just once in a lifetime."

Francesca: "I realized love won't obey our expectations, it's mystery is pure and absolute."

Robert: "When I think of why I make pictures, the reason that I can come up with just seems that I've been making my way here. It seems right now that all I've ever done in my life is making my way here to you."

My Favorite 'Love Story' Movies: #2

The Notebook - Starring:  James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams

IMDB Link: The Notebook 

8Tracks Love Music Playlist 

My favorite song from the movie:  I'll Be Seeing You by Billie Holiday

Why I love the movie:  This film is the very essence of love - it's fire and madness at times, it's sorrow and longing and it's a truth in our soul when we meet the mate to it.  We know when we find that person and we know that there can be only one in the whole of our lifetime.  

It shows that love is not perfect, not even close to it.  That love can be made stronger simply by those imperfections and working through them.  And sometimes, what we love most are those imperfections in the other person.

Destiny plays the pivotal role in Noah and Allie's story.  These two are meant to be and in the end, nothing can stand in the way of that happening.  Their passion is so consuming and poignant that it by turns makes you want to be kissed so hard your lips bruise and the next moment, held close and rocked as you cry over their love story.

I couldn't narrow it down to just one favorite quote from The Notebook because there is so much beautiful writing in the film.  Thus, I've decided to include a few of them and each of them speaks to my heart:

Noah: "I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who's ever lived: I've loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough."

Young Noah: "My Dearest Allie. I couldn't sleep last night because I know that it's over between us. I'm not bitter anymore, because I know that what we had was real. And if in some distant place in the future we see each other in our new lives, I'll smile at you with joy and remember how we spent the summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love. The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that's what you've given me. That's what I hope to give to you forever. I love you. I'll be seeing you. Noah"

Noah:  "She had come back into his life like a sudden flame; blazing and streaming into his heart. Noah stayed up all night contemplating the certain agony he knew would be his if he were to lose her twice." 

Allie: Do you think our love can make miracles?

Noah: I do.

Allie: Do you think our love can take us away together?

Noah: I think our love can do anything we want it to.

Allie: I love you.

Noah: I love you, Allie.

Allie: Good night.

Noah: Good night. I'll be seeing you.