See this? It’s “Rich Chocolate,” High Protein Boost. My food for the next couple of weeks. I’m on a liquid diet, thanks to this blasted Crohn’s disease.
Here’s the story:
Last week, my doctor suggested I meet the surgeon my GI doc had recommended for me. That came as a shocker, because she’d been telling me all along that the treatment was working and my infection marker was coming down and just be patient and don’t get discouraged, etc. etc. etc.
Then she said, “But you still should meet your surgeon.”
The reason she gave was just in case we need him, we didn’t want to be throwing him a curveball without giving him a chance to understand what’s going on. That made sense. Then she started talking about how she and my GI doc had discussed surgeries and ileostomy bags and all sorts of pleasant things. “But it’s all good. Don’t get discouraged!”
But she’s the doctor, so yesterday MSB and I obediently drove back to Tyler to meet the surgeon. I’m so ready for this to be over, that all the way there, I was thinking and praying about just having the dadburned surgery and finally settling this mess out. I’ve been sick since roughly May of last year, seriously sick since August, and scaring the tar out of my doctors since December. It’s time for this to stop!
The surgeon took my history and listened carefully to everything I had to say. Even read the report written by my local surgeon from the 2010 operation. And said, just as my local surgeon has said, he didn’t want to operate on me. Not that he wouldn’t if he didn’t have to, but I’m simply not a good candidate, even for the ileostomy. It’s too risky. Too likely to leave me with “short gut syndrome,” where I couldn’t sustain my life orally.
No surgery? Well, okay, so we’ll stick with the IV antibiotics and the drain in the abscess that doesn’t want to go away. The treatment’s working, right? The infection marker is going down, and I’ve been feeling like a normal human being for the first time in almost a year. I’ve even been eating like a normal human being–one of the few things that has kept me optimistic these past few weeks.
Then the surgeon examined me. Something I ate recently had been messing with me all day–a problem I’ve grown accustomed to over the years, but it freaked him out. He said that as hard as my intestine was working, it was probably cinched somewhere, and if we didn’t give it a break, the choice of having surgery may be made for us. And the results may be the dreaded “short gut syndrome.”
This isn’t the first time my stomach has acted like this, and more often than not, it settles itself out. But twice in the past ten years, it has resulted in a perforation and peritonitis and prolonged hospital stays, with or without surgery, and being fed through an artery.
So when the doctor said “liquid diet,” I didn’t balk too badly. Only when he said I ought to be on a liquid diet “indefinitely.” That hurt. The difference between this time and all the other times I’d ended up hospitalized (nine total, I think) is that the other times I felt sick and didn’t have an appetite anyway. This time, I feel fine. The only indications that I’m sick are the medical reminders dangling from various parts of my body–the PICC line and the abscess drain. I feel fine and I get hungry! I get cravings for certain things, and Boost isn’t one of them.
The compromise is for me to stay on a liquid diet for a while–Boost, Jell-O, broth, and such–then switch to what I call a Crohn’s diet, which really isn’t too bad. It’s a low-residue, low-fiber diet, where I can eat soft, baked meats (no steaks and nothing fried, darn it), cooked low-fiber veggies, canned fruits. Nothing raw–no salads, no fruits, nothing uncooked. But still, it’s not bad. I can eat most Italian foods, which is a blessing, and most soul/comfort foods, as long as they aren’t fried. It beats being restricted to a liquid diet. And I guess being restricted to a liquid diet would beat being feed through an artery for the rest of my life, so I shouldn’t complain at all.
We have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow–the one we go to every Thursday. We’ll see what she has to say. Maybe my infection marker will be even lower, and I can find reason to be encouraged again.
Oh, by the way, did you notice all the changes? What do you think? Better? Don’t forget to check out the “About Me” page and let me know what you think. Seriously–those of you who are good at the critique, critique it. I’m not at all sure I like it.