Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Itis

Colitis, for the moment. That is what the attending doctor in the ER the other morning said that I have. You say, Dave...what are you talking about? Right, well, here is the story.

Let me start where I think the trouble began. Saturday night, I had some intestinal discomfort. That is the polite way of saying diarrhea, man. In any case, considering that Noah had been sick recently with a stomach bug, including vomiting and lots of diarrhea, I figured that I just caught something from him. I was happy I wasn't laid out in bed, feverish, or crapping myself til my butt was sore. In any case, it didn't seem like that big a deal and didn't stop me from enjoying my evening. I can't remember what we did and whether I actually enjoyed myself or not, but I know that I probably ate a piece of Audrey's sweet ass German Chocolate Chip Cake (New title for that dish is now Audrey's Sweet Ass Choco-Chip Kraut Cake) and had plenty of strawberries. Note the strawberries, as I think they play an integral part in this story. I went to bed, looking forward to the following morning's road race.

Sunday morning was quiet on the gastro-intestinal front, which was fine considering that I was going to be running 10 miles and didn't want to be the first person I know to crap themselves while running. I had some water, some coffee (not even a full cup), and a Balance bar. I felt fine through the race and right afterwards as well. As I walked around the Tidal Basin post-race, I did feel some typical diarrhea cramps again. I had already had a bottle of water, but I held off on eating the banana or on grabbing a muffin since I figured that eating would only stimulate things and make me have to go to the bathroom. My main concerns were having to do my business at a Port-a-John or dealing with the issue during the somewhat complicated trip back home. In any case, neither happened and I made it home without incident. But, that is when the fun really began.

I spent Sunday afternoon grappling with what seemed to be terrible gas pain. Audrey and I thought it might have been due to some dehydration or something, so she made me drink Pedialyte. Yuck. Not longer after she convinced me to drink it, she went to the gym and my stomach convinced itself to get rid of it. I spent the afternoon in pain, waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. The pain subsided and we made it to Lakeside Park for some jungle gym time. Then, we headed over to Red Robin where Audrey and I shared the Fiesta Fajita Pollo Salad and the Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap. I felt fine as I ate, even when I helped myself to all the fries I could possibly want. Heck man, I had run 10 miles that morning and hadn't eaten much, so I figured I could go all out on the steak fries. That night, no real problems to speak of. I felt decent enough. I think some discomfort came back, but it wasn't as bad as earlier in the day and I kept thinking it would pass.

Monday sign of problems. I ate my normal diet of a balance bar, fruit, salad, etc. I had some cottage cheese at lunch as well. I didn't poop, which was abnormal, but not totally out of line to suggest that something was wrong. In the late afternoon, I started to feel some discomfort again. But, again, nothing so bad that I was the least bit concerned. I got home from work and ate dinner, which was steamed veggies, some mashed potatoes, and two chicken sausages. I followed that up with more strawberries and more of Audrey's Sweet Ass Choco-Chip Kraut Cake. But, I started having some more difficulty this time around. After Noah went to bed, the gas pain became more pronounced. But, again, not enough to concern me. Around 10PM or so, with no relief so far, I decided to go to the supermarket to get some Gas-X. I came back, took the medicine, and sat down to watch a Dane Cook DVD with Audrey. I drank some water, snacked on some Puffins, drank some Diet Coke...but I was still waiting for the farts to come. The pain keeps getting worse, to the point where I am uncomfortable in any position. Audrey goes to bed and things continue to worsen. I cannot get any relief at all, no matter what I do. The pain was coming in waves and it became difficult to move when it "hit". I decided that I would definitely not be able to sleep until this stops and, after doing some reading on WebMD, that it seemed bad enough to warrant a visit to the emergency clinic up the road. I figured that they could at least tell if it was gas pain or something else and would hopefully be able to give me something to make the pain go away. Realistically, I figured they'd have a shot of some super strong meds that would force the farts (or whatever it was) to come out. Around 1AM, I told Audrey that I was going to the clinic and that I'd hopefully be back soon. I put the phone on her bedside table, though, just in case.

I got to the clinic, filled out the basic forms, and started my wait in the lobby around 1:20AM or so. From this moment on, time isn't so easily tracked. I filled out the paperwork with the following statement: severe intestinal pain. Didn't speed things up any. I saw a nurse, who asked me some basic questions, including how much pain I was in on a scale of 1-10. I told her it was an 8. While waiting to be called back to see a doctor, I vomited in the clinic bathroom. Not long afterwards, maybe around 2:30AM or so, the nurse put me in a bed area and gave me a hospital gown to change into. I did and climbed into the bed, unable to read a magazine or do much of anything else. The doctor came by and examined me, pressing on various areas of my abdomen and asking me if it hurt. Despite the fact that the pain seemed to be coming from all over, the only places it actually hurt during her pressing was in the lower center and lower right side of my abdomen. If I wasn't having bad diarrhea, which I knew I wasn't, then it was something more serious, like a gall stone, an issue with my kidneys, or even appendicitis. And, considering the location of the pain, the doctor thought my appendix might be the culprit.

Not good news, obviously. In order to further diagnose, they drew blood. And, to help me out, they put me on an IV with morphine and some anti-nausea medication. Never having had an IV, it was a strange experience for me. I felt a cold rush up my arm from the saline solution that came in first. Then, I got very light-headed and felt woozy. I was laying flat on the bed at that point, rendered momentarily speechless from the morphine. It didn't take long before I felt a whole lot better. The pain subsided, although it didn't go away completely. The doc came by to check me out a few times to try and determine what might be going on. When she decided that it was definitely something inside me, like appendicitis, she let me know that I'd need a CT scan and that I'd have to go over to the hospital for that. Oh, and I couldn't drive myself, so they'd be calling an ambulance to take me. Oh, and I'd have to drink 40 ounces of Ginger Ale with contrast in it so that my insides would be more viewable. Great.

It must have taken me an hour to drink that constrast stuff. It wasn't that it tasted too bad. I just couldn't get all the fluid in without taking my time. And, it was room temperature.

Since the ambulance was on it's way, the doctor asked me if I wanted more morphine. Basically, she figured I'd have to wait a while at the hospital before anyone saw me, so she wanted to know if I wanted some additional pain medicine before things got too bad. Duh! I wasn't missing this opportunity, so I gladly accepted another dose of the stuff.

The EMTs showed up at 5 something, I think. I moved from the bed to the gurney on my own, finished up my contrast, and they tucked me in with a bunch of blankets so I wouldn't get cold. Then, off we went to the hospital. It was kind of weird to be around so many strangers in just a nighty, but I didn't give a crap at that point. I just wanted relief and an answer as to what was wrong with me.

We got to the hospital fairly quickly (there isn't any traffic in Fairfax in the middle of the night) and they were ready for me immediately. I got wheeled over to a new bed and the nurse came over within moments. She asked me the same questions they asked at the clinic and let me know that the ER doctor would be by soon. It was about 6AM, so I called Audrey to let her know what was going on. She still must have figured I would be home soon, assuming she even knew what time it was. It had been 5 hours since I left the house and she probably slept the entire time. I also called my boss and left him a wacky message. A few minutes later, the ER doctor came by and gave me a check up as well. He poked around my abdomen, just like the doctor at the clinic, but he also checked my lymph glands and fondled my nuts a good bit. Okay, so fondling might be a bit of a stretch. I don't know if he was just checking for a hernia or not, but he was clearly taking a close look at my cash and prizes. He didn't think I had appendicitis, but he did think I had some sort of infection since my lymph glands were swollen. In any case, he needed to see the CT scan before he would know more.

By 6:30AM, I think they were wheeling me to the CT scan. The machine is enormous. It looks like a giant donut, which you end up in the middle of. I moved from the bed to the machine and they prepped me, which consisted of positioning me with my arms up over my head and injecting me with more contrast. When the contrast went into my bloodstream, I got hot all over, like I had just downed a cocktail. Not long afterwards, the machine took over, barking commands at me and spinning around like it was angry. Alright, it was a moderately pleasant voice asking me to take a deep breath and it barely moved at all. The work was done somewhere inside the big plastic hulk, but I could sense movement and hear things buzzing, giving one the sense that amazing stuff would happen. The scan was over in five minutes and I was back on my way to the ER to wait for the results.

I fell asleep, thankfully. The doctor came back and told me I didn't have appendicitis. At some point not long after that, a nurse came over as well. She was a fast talker from Boston or NY and I was too tired to follow everything she was saying. I got a bunch of paperwork and she said I could just sleep in the bed until my ride came to get me. Just after 8AM, I opened my eyes and Audrey and Noah were right in front of me. I got up, got dressed, and went on home.

Hell of a night, huh?

End result? Initial diagnosis at the hospital is that I have colitis. They gave me prescriptions for two antibiotics and gave me a referral for a GI doctor to do some follow-up. I'm feeling a great deal better, but my diet has been flipped on its head until this thing clears up. I still feel some discomfort after I eat, but it's not that bad. And, I just hope that this turns out to be an acute, one time event.

1 comment:

Jon said...


That's crazy. Congrats on the two hits of morphine. That's one to tell your grandkids.

So what is colitis? Is that just intestinal blockage? Do you think it's related to running?

Oh and this is funny. Your Google Adsense is this right now:

Gas, Bloating, Flatulence
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I hope you're feeling better, man.