Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

It's December 31st, New Years Eve.

For some, this is just another day in the year, nothing to write home about, nothing to even think twice about. For others it's a good excuse to catch up with friends, have a few drinks and celebrate. Then for others New Years Eve symbolises all kinds of wonderful. It could mark a time for new beginnings and welcomed change, a time on the edge of the future, filled with all kinds of delicious possibilities. New Years Eve could bring with it the promise of a better tomorrow. Now, personally, I've always lived in hope, so I'll admit that I am definitely one of the latter.

I'm hopeful for a cure. I'm hopeful for remission. I'm hopeful for a kitten (wink wink, my love) and mostly I'm hopeful that 2010 brings peace, health, happiness and good fortune to you and your loved ones.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"A Medical Condition"

Just prior to Christmas and right smack in the middle of our move, I had to go into hospital for minor surgery. It really was no big deal, I've had it done a few times in the past and by the looks of it, will be having it done a few more times before 2010 is out. I had intended to insert a picture that illustrates where my strictures are, however, Photoshop hates me and I have chosen to keep my sanity rather than argue with it anymore. I have a stricture around the ileum and one lower in the rectum.

The surgery involves dilating a stricture, or essentially stretching out the narrowed bit of intestine. Normally this is nothing major, but sadly in my case one of the stricture's is very low down the large intestine towards the rectum and there is a real danger of tearing it open completely. In fact the surgeon who dilated the ileum stricture back in November refused to do the lower one because he said it was too tricky. They called in the expert. It was funny, when I met him prior to it I said "Just tell me it's going to be shit easy and I won't wake up with a bag." He smiled and winked at me and said "It's going to be shit easy and you 99.99% won't wake up with a bag." good enough for me.

As I was going into theatre, the anaesthetist asked me what kind of pain killers worked for me. By this point I'd already been given the initial 'light sedative' and was happily giggling away at the fuzzy shiny things in the operating room. The next thing I was aware of was being awoken afterwards.

"How'd it go?" I asked the surgeon, who gave me the thumbs up and said "We got it, it went well but don't be surprised if there's a lot of bleeding." With that he gave me another thumbs up and left. Um... ok?

Next someone else came over to me and said "I'm just going to give you something for the pain." Then she injected something into my IV line and within seconds I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and giggly again. "How do you feel?" She asked. "Really quite pleasant" I replied and she laughed. For whatever reason she decided to give me a little more and I fell asleep very soon after that.

In recovery, the pharmacist came and gave me a cocktail of painkillers, which scared the crap out of me. What exactly did they do in there??? Especially when you consider my GP and specialist just refuse to prescribe anything for pain. I was given five different pain killers. Interestingly enough, I had very little pain at all in the days that followed. It's either feast or famine.

Now at least four or five times during this process I'd asked for a medical certificate. My boss had made it quite clear to everyone, that given the holiday period and that fact that we were short staffed, all sick leave was to be accompanied by a medical certificate, as per HR's policy. In recovery, waiting to be discharged I asked after the medical certificate and was told they hadn't left me one. I somehow managed to keep my cool and politely remind her that I needed one for work and that I had asked five times now. She went off and tracked down a doctor.

A few days later as I was filling in my time sheet and preparing to fax off the medical certificate I noticed that the doctor had given me a week off, instead of just the one day which basically meant I either had to take the week off or abandon the medical certificate. To make matter's worse, in the spot where they usually just write "a medical condition" he had written "having an EUA & dilation of a stricture in the anus with probable heavy bleeding for several days post surgery" Jesus buddy, why not just attach my friggin file. He doesn't need my life story!

Sometimes less really is more.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There are no stupid questions

Today I saw a surgeon as follow-up to my recent surgery. She looked up at me after a quick glance at my file.

"You have Crohn's disease." She said.

"Yes." I said. Well spotted.

"Ever had diarrhea?"

"Um, is a bear Catholic?"

"I make it a point never to discus politics with patients" She glanced back at the file. "You've had surgery to dilate a stricture. What was that for?"

It was all down hill from there...


Monday, December 21, 2009

Seasons Greetings...

I cannot believe there is only four days until Christmas and then a week after that it will be 2010. 2010! According to "Back to the Future" we'll have flying cars and hoverboards within the next five years, "Blade Runner" says we'll have off-world colonies in ten years and "Bicentential Man" said we would have robot's that do everything from house cleaning to baby-sitting. Hmmm, I suddenly feel a bit ripped off! At least we're not all wearing identical daggy jumpsuits and infested with aliens.

Unlike most people, I actually loathe this time of year. Really, I hate it with a passion. When I say this to people, they look at me oddly and say "But it's Christmas!" Yes, I'm aware and I detest it all. I hate shopping for presents for people I hardly know. I hate the insane road rage, store rage, car park rage, queuing in line rage and snatching the last item off the shelf rage. I think the whole world needs to take a Valium.

I also hate the having to get together with relatives I only ever see at Christmas. I don't blame them for not calling me, I don't call them either. I'd be happy to just send cards and not get together at all. I hate the pretense. You're not interested in me, I'm not interested in you. Let's call a spade a spade, shake hands and be on our merry way.

I hate the phone calls from people I haven't heard from in years who have had some kind of "revelation" and decide that now they need to rekindle old friendships. This year I've already had three, one who's sobered up (Step 9 - Make amends), one who's divorcing and one who's moving cross country. I'm happy for you, but please, if our friendship was that strong, we never would have drifted apart in the first place. We should catch up. Yes, but we won't because you're an annoying whinger and I'm too paranoid about not being able to find a toilet.

I've lived in small apartments pretty much since I left home as a teenager and there is just no room to put up a Christmas tree. I tried it once and I lost count of the number of times I tripped over it. I was picking up pieces of shattered baubles for months. Now that we're all adults and living in separate house holds, the gift giving has gone from thoughtful gift-wrapped surprises to just asking straight out what each other wants. We're all too busy and just a little bit lazy. I miss the childlike excitement of creeping out to a tree laden with presents on Christmas morning.

But mostly (and this is the nuts and bolts of it) I hate the fact that the whole holiday period is founded on overindulgence of food and alcohol and I can't indulge at all in most of it, let alone overindulge. People just don't get how sick overindulging can make someone with actively flaring Crohn's disease.

Picture it:
The family is sat around the table scoffing down mountains of food like it's their last supper. I politely decline the baked potatoes dripping in butter and garlic.
"Go on, it's Christmas!" someone, who by now has had at least 3 lots of "seconds" and twice as many brandy's, urges me, waving the bowl under my nose. It's torture, but nothing on what would follow if I actually ate them.
"Yes, but my Crohn's monster doesn't care what season it is." I calmly explain. "You don't seem to understand, there are 20 people in this house and only two toilets."

Meanwhile the rest of them pig out on baked potatoes and pumpkin and roast chicken and pork with crackling and apple sauce and ham and turkey. Plum Pudding with brandy sauce and fruit cake and mince pies and custard. Coleslaw and potato salad and lettuce with baby tomatoes. Fruit salad and punch spiked with vodka. Icy cold beers with slices of lemon, scotch with soda and vodka and lime. Prawns and oysters and crayfish and scallops. Crap, now I'm hungry.

With the Crohn's flaring every other day, and the strictures and the obstructions and the aches and the pains my diet is pretty limited. There isn't a whole lot on the Christmas menu that I can actually eat. When you take away the food, the alcohol, the presents and the tree, what exactly is there to enjoy? It's just a major pain in the arse. I joke every year that I'm going to take a holiday to some tropical island and lay on the beach from December 23rd right through to January 3rd. Although I'm photosensitive from the medication so I'd actually be inside looking at the beach through the window!

Bah-Humbug lol!

I'm not really an old scrooge and to prove it, below is my favorite Looney Tunes Cartoon as my gift to you. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!