For those of you that know me, you probably know a few months ago I had my appendix removed. For those of you that don’t know me, a few months ago I had my appendix removed.
After a few days of this nagging excruciating abdominal pain, that I assumed would go away, didn’t go away, but only got worse and worse and finally unbearable; I decided to go to the emergency room and have them check it out. I figured they’d give me an antibiotic and send me on my way. I never thought they’d come in and say I needed immediate surgery. Later I’d be informed that my appendix did indeed burst, it was severely infected, filled with puss, and that it was also wrapped around my colon and intestines, which part of had to be removed as well. As far as appendicitis goes, it ended up being pretty severe. I’m lucky I didn’t wait any longer. I ended up staying in the hospital for five days, and battled a persistent infection with strong antibiotics, during and after the time I was released from the hospital. After the antibiotics were finished, certain bowel related symptoms popped up and my health seemed to get worse. It turns out I got a nasty bacterial infection called, C. Diff (or Clostridium difficile). Apparently the strong antibiotics not only killed the bad bacteria, but wiped out the good bacteria as well. For six weeks and through several more rounds of other kinds of antibiotics, I struggled with the C. Diff, before I finally was able to kick it. I also got thrush in my mouth from the antibiotics, but that just seemed like a persistent annoyance compared to everything else.
During those horrible weeks, I basically felt like I had the worst stomach bug of all time, times a zillion. Everything I ate or drank, even water, instantly turned to diarrhea and nausea. I’d have to run to the toilet often 30-40+ times a day with painful diarrhea. I could barely leave the house for fear of not being close to the bathroom. I felt terrible for my kids because I couldn’t take them anywhere. My two-year old is still very clingy, months later, because I had to pass some of the childcare duties on to my mother and my husband. I lost the daycare job I had. I was introduced to the nasty institution we call the healthcare system. I learned Googling symptoms is a bad idea. I became very scared to eat, but also became weak from nutrients not being able to absorb into my body. I often was very dehydrated, anemic and several times had to be re-hospitalized because of the effects of dehydration and malnutrition, which led to weakness, dizziness, confusion, fatigue and feelings of despair. These were both symptoms of my illness and side effects from my medication and malnutrition. There were times I felt so weak I couldn’t lift my head. At night I felt crazy. My hair started to shed by the handful. I didn’t like being left alone because I was scared I may fall down or pass out and have no one to help me. I remember having to call my mom long distance at certain times because I was confused and didn’t remember how to boil an egg, or that I was scared I’d fall over cause I barely had the energy to walk across the room to use the bathroom, or at night I’d be scared to be left alone with my anxiety. Many times I’d get very confused, off-balance and disoriented. Sometimes I’d forget to eat, other times I was scared to eat. I lost probably about 15 pounds. I realized that dairy was one of the things contributing to some of my problems, and I cut that out of my diet. It seemed to help to a certain extent.
After the 6 weeks of hell, I finally tested negative for C.Diff, but other problems persisted. I still couldn’t eat like normal. Certain foods still triggered abdominal problems. I started to have severe rectal bleeding. It was a terrifying thing to see blood flowing from places it’s not supposed to be coming from. After a colonoscopy, the Dr. determined the walls of my colon were very irritated due to how much abuse it has endured during the C. Diff. My colon is also bent. She put me on a low residue diet, and after several weeks, it seems that the bleeding had stopped. I had to drink Ensure and eat protein bars to gain my strength back. I had several set-backs in my recovery and had more days of feeling like I couldn’t get off the couch.
My colon is still temperamental and when I failed to stick with the new and improved diet and ate popcorn, or things with skin, the bleeding comes back. I’ve also realized with trial and error, that I’m still having trouble with dairy. Even with the lactose free cheese, that I thought would be okay. It’s a big adjustment and I feel like I’m still in denial that the lactose sensitivity will be a permanent problem. It’s taken a long time from being weak and sick to get back to myself. I’m still not 100% myself. As i knew it. I still don’t feel like I could go to the gym or do rigorous activity. I still have difficulty digesting food. My time in the bathroom still isn’t the same. Maybe it will never be? If I eat too fast or too much I get nausea, bloating, cramps. It’s a hard concept to understand my limitations at times. Fullness comes very very fast, and even day after day of knowing food is going to bother me, it’s still hard to get a handle on it. I eat a tiny amount and I feel like I just ate thanksgiving dinner. I’m sensitive to anticipating being sick, because of the fear of feeling like I did at that time. It’s disappointing to go to parties and not be able to eat anything. Its frustrating when I make an entire meal, then remember I can’t eat vegetables with skins on it. I’ve only drank alcohol a few times since I’ve been sick, and it doesn’t really seem to agree with me either. I took being able to freely eat food however I wished, for granted. Even though I still have problems, I’m thankful I’m on the mend and have what I have. I’m thankful of the kind words people have said to me and mostly my mother who has coached me through the past few months. I’m glad my kids are resilient and survived my ordeal without too much resentment.
At this point, the suckiest thing is the lactose intolerance. Today I actually gave in and bought Lactose Free Milk & Lactaid Pills. I should have bought these months ago, but I hung on the idea that any day I’ll snap out of it and be normal again. In a way I’m still holding out hope, but at the same time looking forward, well terrified actually to try some cheesy goodness to see if these pills actually work.