gut punched: epilogue

On November 14, I woke up early. I was hungry, thirsty, and empty. The previous day had me ridding my insides of every last drop of fluid available. I showered, dressed, and Fred drove me to the hospital. I was anxious and distracted. He kept the chatter light, telling me about students in his classes and articles he had read.

We arrived right on time, and I forced my feet to move forward into the building. The hospital employs the same philosophy as Disneyland: keep them moving and they have no idea how long they’ve actually spent waiting. After checking in we went up to the second floor to a little room. Less than 10 minutes in there and they came and took me to a pre-op room. I changed into a gown, took out my nose ring, and had an IV put it. Then Fred came in and we watched a bit of some crime re-enactment show. I kept asking if it was too late to back out. Fred kept saying yes. A new nurse came in and laughed when she said I was in for a “double whammy.” Sigh. Yup, that’s me. She promised happy juice would be delivered soon, and wheeled me out of the room, telling Fred I’d be back in an hour. I waved good-bye. I was 47% sure that was the last time I’d ever see him.

The procedure room was ice cold, and there was music playing. R&B. I don’t remember which song but I knew it. A nasal cannula went in with oxygen, heart and pulse ox monitors were applied. The drugs were pushed through the IV. Another nurse put a mouth guard in, which protected my teeth and held my lips apart. I was lying on my left side, staring at something that looked like a stereo, and that was that. No counting, no promises of sleep. Just… nothing.

At one point I woke up and opened my eyes to sound of moaning. It was me. Something hurt, cramping. The nurse rubbed my back and told me it was almost over. I closed my eyes and went back under.

The next time I opened my eyes I was in recovery, and women were hovering over me, chattering pleasantly and smiling. I asked for Fred. I asked for water. I went back under.

I woke up when they wheeled me into my room. Someone handed me apple juice and it was glorious. I signed some paperwork and the doctor came in. He told me everything looked good but he had biopsied pretty much all along the way. That explained the cramping. He also said I had diverticulosis and needed to eat more fiber. Was pretty convinced that IBS was my problem, and he’d had to give me medicine because my colon was spasming pretty good during the procedure. Told me to eat something mild and take it easy all day. One of the nurses said something about letting Fred take care of the laundry and I almost said, “He does anyway.”

Fred helped me dress and asked what I wanted to eat. “Burger,” I mumbled. “Fries.” I barely remember eating it. At home, I climbed into bed, woken a few hours later by more cramping.

The next day I was fine, though still a little blurry around the edges. Biopsy results were negative. I’m still dairy-free, and have a follow-up with the doc after Christmas to discuss further possible dietary adjustments. In the meantime, I can definitely say that I’m feeling better, though facing the holidays without cheese just seems cruel.

I’ve been dairy-free for two weeks. It sucks. I love cheese. All cheese. Any cheese. I also love whipped cream and ice cream and butter. Oh, do I love butter.

I’m not an optimist. I am not saying, “Oh, but I can still eat eggs! And wheat!” I don’t care. I want cheese.

It actually hasn’t been as bad as I thought. But as someone who never had to worry about what she ate, having to read every label obsessively gets a bit tiring.

“Why must you torture yourself thusly?” you may be asking.

Remember the whole gall bladder issue/non-issue? So, I never really got better. And in fact, at points, got a lot worse. As I wait for various tests and procedures to tell me what may or may not be wrong with me, my gastro doc has recommended I cut out dairy and see how I feel.

So far? I feel crappy without it, but feel even CRAPPIER with it. Yay?

(Actually, yesterday and today have shown a marked improvement. I even skipped my stomach meds today.)

On Wednesday I will have a camera shoved down my throat to check my upper GI for problems. Then a (one hopes) totally separate camera will enter from the opposite end to check the lower GI section. I’m looking forward to coming home afterwards and catching up on Grimm episodes and drinking ginger ale. Or clutching my midsection and groaning piteously. You know, whichever.