It’s been a while since I devoted a post to my health, and I know how much everyone loves to hear about how I feel. (OK, maybe not but it’s my blog so there you have it.) There hasn’t really been much to write though. Which is a good thing. When it comes to my Crohn’s, no news really is good new.
The short story is that I feel pretty good and my body appears to be healing. I’m not in remission yet but I’m (hopefully) on the way.
The longer version is this. A couple weeks ago my doctor had me complete a small bowel follow-through. One of the things about imaging your intestines is that you have to drink contrast so they will show up. Unlike bones, they are pretty transparent on their own. Over the years I have ingested a variety of fluids for this purpose. Some really terrible and others almost tasty. I haven’t figured out the rhyme or reason regarding the different contrasts or why I get one version one time and something completely different the next time when I’m certain it is the exact same test. But whatever. After a while you just go with it.
However, I never will forget the one time I simply couldn’t do it. Early on in my diagnosis, I was given a vile tasty concoction that had barium in it. I stood there for over an hour, my husband cheering me on, while I attempted to swallow. No matter how hard I tried or how many tears I shed, my throat would simply close up on me with every attempt. Eventually we just gave up. The technician managed to get a few images but to this day I have no idea if any of them were usable. I do know they didn’t order the test a second time.
Going into this last test, I was pretty sure it was the barium I would be facing again. I was nervous. I really didn’t want to go through an experience like that agai,n so I did as much research as possible to assure myself that things had changed in the last 15 years and whatever they gave me would be MUCH better. My husband assured me that regardless of what they gave me, I would handle it MUCH better since I had been doing this for 15 years now, and I had learned how to swallow some pretty noxious stuff. I appreciated his encouragement but had my doubts.
The hospital folks were lovely and everything went right on time. No waiting. I was told the test would take 2-4 hours, so I expected to be there for awhile. The lab tech was a handsome young man, nearly young enough to be my son (God, I hate that!). He was chatty and reassuring. I found it cute and would have appreciated it had this been the first time I had ever done any kind of imaging test. But since I have done these things many, many times, I found myself mostly assuring him that I was fine and would ask for help if I needed it.
Once I had changed and was settled, the moment of truth arrived. He gave me the fluid I needed to drink. Not a terribly large container, maybe 20 ounces. Yes, it was on the thick side and chalky white. Exactly the same as 15 years earlier. So I took a deep breath and began.
Have I ever mentioned how often my husband is right? Have I told you how annoying it is?
He was right and this time I was glad. As I drank the vile fluid, I was able to open my throat, let it slide down quickly and conquer my gag reflex. I really had learned a thing or two over time. I realized I was now a pro. Within 15 minutes I had it all down. The tech was certain it was a speed record. I told him this wasn’t the kind of thing you wanted to sip daintily. The faster, the better. We waited the barium to coat my innards and they took their pictures.
I got dressed and left, glancing at the clock as I walked out the door. I was there for 1 hour 45 minutes. Yes, I was a bit proud of coming in under 2 hours. I’ll take my victories where I can get them.
Then it was time to wait for the results.
It was over a week before I heard back from the doctor but the results were good. The labs showed my white count was within the expected range to indicate the medications were working. The images showed I still had some swelling in my small intestine but there were no longer any holes. Everything indicated my Crohn’s was still active, my recent concerns were not my imagination, and our current course of action was in the right direction.
I talked briefly to my doctor about managing stress and what I was doing to that end with herbal supplements. He agreed that stress has a huge impact on my disease, pointing out that yet again the latest study confirms this. So he was all for whatever I could do to control stress.
As it stand right now, I think I’ve found a happy balance between medication, diet, and supplements. I am about to go off the prednisone now that the new medication should be fully effective. Hopefully that doesn’t send me back into a tailspin. We’ll see. All I know is that I’m making forward progress. I’m grateful for the good days. There have been more of them than bad ones lately. For the moment, I am cautiously optimistic. It’s a good feeling.