I originally created this blog post not too long after starting my blog adventure early in 2013. During these past months in my work with my book writing coach Lisa Tener, Writer’s Digest, and the posts by the folks here on WordPress, I think I’ve learned more about writing and how to blog. This week’s story about re-purposing your older blogs as well as it being CCFA’s IBD Awareness Week was a great excuse to dig this old story up. I did indeed decide to make a few updates, incorporating some things my friend Doug Hardy taught me (thanks Doug!).
This story is about my adventure with a small bowel obstruction. This is just what I refer to as a “side-effect” of living with Crohn’s Disease. Sometimes you eat stuff that just gets stuck…plain and simple. Only the pain is excruciating, generally landing you in the emergency room, and some times – surgery to fix it. I was lucky…this time.
I realized in spite of my practice of Mindfulness and Meditation, I still seem to have a constant monologue running in my head. I feel like I’m Meredith Grey watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy…except the voice is mine and it’s my life. Perhaps that influence comes after spending all day Monday home sick on the couch watching episode after episode of this season’s Grey’s Anatomy. I just don’t seem to have time to watch it during the week so I save it up for when I’m sick. Well, it took to the 3rd day of being sick until I felt well enough to even watch TV. Well – my version of watching TV since we don’t have cable or satellite – just watch via the internet. Anyway…off topic….
As my monologue of “As Katie’s Guts Churn” progressed, I realized how getting through those last few days after a small bowel obstruction was a different experience from previous obstructions. One of the down sides of Crohn’s Disease (besides the constant need to poop, pain, bleeding, surgeries, lack of nutrient absorption, malabsorption, anemia, — just to name a few) is that your body digests differently than everyone else around you. When your friends are chowing down on some yummy high-fiber delicious salad, your brain calculates a few different things such as:
- Hmmmm…..I wonder if I can eat just a small plate of that?
- Will that block me up?
- How long until I have to go somewhere and potentially not be near a bathroom?
- Is that going to be worth the pain later?
Well, I decided to try something new to eat that fateful Thursday – a non-pasta pasta. I know – that really should have been my red flag that said: “KATIE – DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT EATING THIS!!!”
Feeling good with regular exercise and losing some weight, I thought it would be okay to try. Plus it contained zero-carbs! Bonus!! Yay! I can have my pasta and eat it too!! So now it’s time for…..
Yep – the big Homer Simpson DOH! moment. Did I read the ingredients? Well….some of them. I just flat out ignored the ingredients I didn’t recognize. Another moment of brilliance for the journal.
NOTE TO SELF/FELLOW CROHNIES: Use your smart phone at the grocery store next time to look up ingredients you don’t know to determine if you can digest it.
Fast forward to dinner preparation. I cooked up the noodles along with some Tofurky sausage (Yes Tofurky, it’s delicious!). My evening progressed like any other, and I went to bed only to wake up feeling really crappy Friday morning with stomach pain, cramping, and general feeling of “oh shit.”
As in the past with this type of discomfort/blockage, pushing lots of water and walking will usually help it to resolve itself and come out as it is supposed to. I did my lunchtime walk of 2.5 miles in the hopes that the movement would spur…well….movement! That was not to be my fate!
Turns out, those noodles turned in to “the rubber band ball from hell” and it had other plans. It wanted to pick up a few sharp knives, incorporate themselves into that ball, slowly working itself out of my intestinal track – one millimeter at a time. Poking, churning, stretching and scraping never seeming to actually GET anywhere – which is what turns out to be the problem. It just stops….everything stops. And then the pain you experience far exceeds anything on the Pain Scale chart you see in the doctor’s office.
After several hours of flopping around like a fish unable to find a comfortable position, vomiting in the most horrendously forceful way that made me think I was back in college again, and writhing for moments at a time while the rubberband ball from hell churned around – I fought to breathe. I actually had the sense to remember what I wrote just the day before about what to do when going through a painful experience – breathe and don’t constrict.
I realize now that writing that advice when I was feeling fantastic actually was helpful, because I was able to use it. Thankfully my mom lives next door to me and she sat with me and held my hand while I shuddered in pain, cried, moaned and cried out. At least 3 of my cats hovered nearby on the bed to keep track of me – they are great little healers.
Ten years ago if something like this had happened, I would have popped every pain pill I had in my medicine cabinet to get through the experience. I likely would have gone to the emergency room and stayed in the hospital for at least a few days. I would have gone in to a deep depression because I was “sick again.” I would have played the pity party.
There are so many things that I did differently this time because I’ve grown in how I live with my diseases and their side effects. Side effects like the rubberband ball from hell. This time, it was temporary. This time, my usual self returned. This time, I declare ME the winner. Not that damn rubberband ball from hell!