I've had pain in my side since I can remember. My right side, no less, so throughout my life I've gone through many tests, CT scans, X-rays, and medications. I've had diagnoses from overactive gall bladder to acute appendicitis to a simple infection. I had the same doctor for all of that.
I moved to Fort Irwin and every month or two I get a new primary care manager (PCM), and every time I get a new PCM, I start all over with the tests and explaining my symptoms. Finally, I got a PCM who looked through my previous history and took the time to ask every single symptom I have been having my whole life. I explained to her the pain and how it intensifies after eating, the um...need for relief often, and how I'm always nauseous after a meal. She said, "That sounds like a stomach issue, but I want to look at your intestines, too. Just in case." She smiled, left the room, and came back a few minutes later. She said, "I've ordered a CT scan. All you have to do is schedule it."
I looked at her and said, "I've had so much radiation pumped into me over the years I'm surprised I don't glow in the dark." We shared a laugh, and she sent me on my way.
I went over to the radiology department of the hospital here and then scheduled my appointment. I was able to get in that week, so they gave me the contrast to drink, explained how to do it, blah blah blah... I took it home and when the day came to drink it, I did, then the appointment was a couple hours later. I had to get an IV drip of contrast as well.
I'm terrified of needles. They snagged my vein and made me bleed a LOT. Didn't help. I turned white and upon the verge of passing out, they found the vein and set up my IV. The technicians were super nice and they tried their HARDEST to make sure I was comfortable and even distracted me for a bit of the IV process...my fear just got the better of me is all.
So I went through the CT scan which is always intimidating.
I waited for my results. Days became weeks, weeks became months. When I realized my CT scan had been in August and here it was November, I called my doctor. She said, "General surgery was supposed to call you. Since they didn't, here's their number."
She gave me the number and I wrote it down. She said other things, but all that was reverberating in my head was, General surgery was supposed to call you...
So I called general surgery and scheduled my appointment, terrified I would hear something awful about my CT scan.
I went to my appointment and was called back to the exam room where the surgeon was waiting. Before he could open his mouth I said, "Is everything okay?" He smiled and said, "Actually, your CT scan was very interesting!" He started scrolling through the scan and said, "These are your kidneys, they look very healthy. There's your liver, your gall bladder - both also very healthy. Your stomach looks very good as well." Then he stopped and said, "Can you point to exactly where your pain is?"
I showed him it was my right side just below my ribs.
"That's what I thought," he said. He scrolled a bit through the CT scan for a second. "You see this very bright white area?"
"This is your colon. This really thick part is what's interesting because it looks like it could be scar tissue." Then he said the something I never thought I would hear at 25 years old. He said, "We're going to schedule you for a colonoscopy.
I know it could be worse, but all I could think was how embarrassing it was that I would have to do that.
Well, the colonoscopy was scheduled and on Friday last week, I went in for my pre-op exam. They explained to me everything I would need to do, then they told me everything I couldn't do on the day before the procedure. They gave me paperwork to register with the hospital, ordered more blood work, and sent me on my way. Monday morning, I ran around the post getting all my last minute stuff done. I picked up my gallon jugs of colyte (cutely named GoLytely...) and my anti nausea medication (which I didn't take).
Now, in the directions for my prep, I was to drink two gallons of colyte (a laxative for those who don't know) from 4pm to midnight. Which is an 8 oz. glass every 15 minutes for 8 hours. I mixed it with clear cherry koolaid. Bad, bad, bad idea. Colyte is salty and chemically tasting. It's not good. Mixing it with koolaid was just such an awful idea.
4pm came around and I drank the first glass. Okay, I thought, this isn't so bad... 15 minutes later I drank the second glass. At this point I'm wondering what's supposed to happen. Then it hits. It was an immediate need to just GO. I ran to the bathroom; my husband was sitting on the couch playing a video game and laughing at me.
It ended up being that every time I would drink one glass, I would need to go one time. It was really weird towards the end, because every time I would go to the bathroom, it just looked like water. I was cleared out about 1 gallon in...and I had to drink another full gallon.
I couldn't do it any more. I gave up at 11pm with just 4 glasses to go. I was so exhausted from constantly running to the bathroom. I just couldn't. I just...couldn't.
The morning of the procedure, I woke up still needing to go every few minutes. I had bubble guts all the way up until I was in the hospital waiting for my procedure.
When I arrived at the hospital, they had me check in and then they handed me a gown and some socks, told me to strip to my underwear and then told me to get into the bed. The nurse said she'd be by shortly to put in an IV. Fantastic! That's exactly what I wanted! A needle! I knew about it, I just wasn't looking forward to it.
The nurse came by and said that she couldn't find a good vein, so she tried the one over the bone on my wrist...and she tried...and tried...and tried again. She stuck me probably 4 times in the same spot before giving up. I don't know how many times it was because I felt like throwing up and was focusing my breathing so I wouldn't. She finally pulled it out and said to the other nurse, "How confident are you?"
He came overand felt around my arm, then he looked at my wrist, then my hand and said, "You've got a good vein here on your hand, so I'm going to get that one, okay?" I nodded, thinking to myself, Here we go again! So the nurse sticks the needle in my hand and says, "Missed it."
Then he sticks me again...and again...and again. Then he pulls the needle out and says, "We'll wait until anesthesia gets here and she can do it." I sighed with relief. I would get to wait for a DOCTOR to do it...nothing against nurses, but the ones here are very bad at what they do. So now I'm relaxing and waiting for anesthesia to come and talk to me. Then the third nurse in the room says, "I'm going to try getting her IV in."
Let me say something about this nurse really quick. The only thing separating me and the other person getting a colonoscopy that morning was a curtain, so I could hear the conversation that this nurse was having with that patient. She at some point said, "I'm doing so bad this morning." Then at another point she had said, "Oops, guess I gotta try another vein," and she also said, "Sorry I had to stick you so many times."
Anyway, she comes over and she's feeling around my wrist and says, "You have a great vein here, but I can't see it. I'm going to try and get this one."
I started crying. I couldn't handle it anymore. I'm not good with needles and I am already high anxiety because I didn't feel well. And what with everything she had said to the previous patient I was already not expecting her to do well. Because I started to panic, she decided not to try. THANK GOD.
Not five minutes later, anesthesia comes in. She says, "I hear your veins are giving us some trouble!" She smiles and has the kindest face I've ever seen. I relax a little and say, yeah, they've already stuck me a few times. She said, "Well, I'm going to assume that you're pretty dehydrated, so let me look at your veins." She pulls my arm out straight and she says, "You've got good veins!" She gets the needle ready, counts to three and bam! IV's in. First try and it didn't even hurt.
She leaves the room for a moment and then she comes back and asks if I'm ready to go. She wheels me down the hall, tells me to lie of my side, she puts something in my IV...and then I woke up back in the room I started in.
All that prep, all that distress, and I don't even know what happened. I woke up in good spirits, and I must have been funny because everyone was laughing at what I was saying...though I don't remember what it was.
When I was finally coherent, the doctor came and showed me pictures of my insides. One picture in particular. He showed me the scar tissue and said, "This is exactly where you showed me your side pain is." Then he said, "We took a sample. Based on it's appearance, you either have Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. I won't know for sure until the biopsy comes back. Call us Monday if we haven't called you to schedule a follow up."
So there we have it. I'm waiting now for my biopsy to come back. I know people with both problems, and I have reached out to them to understand what I'm up against whichever it is. I will update as soon as I know.