Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When Good Snacks go Bad

As a Crohn's patient without a colon a diet for me that is "healthy" is different than the average person's healthy diet. Most Crohn's nutritionists suggest avoiding multi-grain or wheat bread or brown rice, and I imagine most healthy eaters don't eat white bread or rice. 

I can't really eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables. Things that are healthy for most people - strawberries, broccoli, carrots, blueberries, apples, nuts, leafy greens - are all things that make me sick. Don't get me wrong: I'm often seen eating those things and think screw it because they're delicious, and I really want some broccoli! Apples are one of the hardest to avoid. I really love apples, and eating them is pretty much like eating tiny knives. It's not the best plan. 

When people tell me they're giving up carbs I realize that would be impossible for me. Giving up meat would also be very challenging because of my intolerance for beans or other proteins in large quantities. In the last decade or so I've gotten very complacent and pretty much eat whatever I want. I know a yogurt parfait with blueberries and granola will make me sick, but I'll chance it because it sounds delicious. I should not eat broccoli with Chinese food and yet often do because broccoli is amazing. I love chili but eating a lot of beans rarely goes well. Despite knowing all of these things I've largely ignored the discomfort over the history of my disease. Sometimes I'll cut back and eat less of things that make me sick, but other than seeds (the devil) I don't outwardly avoid anything. My Crohn's has not been concentrated in my small intestine, so the stomach upset is often minor. I've justified eating these things quite well.

My husband and I have oddly not been traveling this winter, so we've been able to spend lots of quality time with friends and time at home simply being together. On Thursday last week we had two of our best friends over. We ordered in barbeque and had drinks and lots of laughs. When they left I was thinking of how lucky we are to have such great friends.

The next evening I threw a three-bean chili in the crockpot and had another friend over. We sipped from our fanciest bourbons and ate too much chili (which was, if I do say so myself, delicious). We had another great evening with a good friend, and I was marveling at how nice it is to stay home and catch up with our friends.

Saturday started as a great day. It's been really warm for Michigan in February (thanks climate change!), so we went for a family walk (our dog really needs some help in the waistline department). Afterward I went for a steady three mile run that felt great. I then decided to eat some baby carrots because 1) carrots are delicious and 2) they're a healthy snack. I didn't eat much for lunch - just some chips and salsa. Lunch of champions!

As the day wore on I was having some stomach discomfort, but that happens sometimes when I eat raw veggies. We went to the grocery store and did things around the house, and I began feeling progressively worse. We had dinner plans at 6:15, and canceling them was never an option. Around 5 pm I told my husband I needed to lie down for a few minutes because my stomach was really hurting. I pushed myself to get dressed and go to dinner where I ate a lot of my food because food is delicious. By the time dinner was over I recognized my pain from having it twice before: bowel obstruction.

We stopped by the store and bought Milk of Magnesia on the way home. I thought maybe that would be a catalyst to move things along. I took it at 9 pm. Nothing happened. By midnight I was in so much pain and was so nauseous I knew it wouldn't get better. I got dressed, woke my husband and told him I was going to the ER (about a mile and a half from our house). He wanted to come with me but there was no way we were waking our toddler to go to the ER in the middle of the night. I walked into my son's room and sobbed while I watched his precious face sleeping. I don't want him to have a sick mom. I don't want this to be a recurring situation. 

As soon as I checked into the ER I began vomiting and didn't stop until my IV was inserted and they gave me anti-nausea mediation. A CT scan showed a small bowel obstruction. The challenge with patients who've had as many surgeries as I have is that every time they do surgery they create more scar tissue and more possibilities of an obstruction. It's got to be the last resort.

They decided to insert a nasogastric (NG) tube into my nose. This tube goes through your nose, down your throat and into your stomach. The idea is that it will suck out whatever isn't moving and hopefully clear the obstruction that way. I've woken up from four of my surgeries with a NG tube, and they're not comfortable. Do you want to know what's worse? Having one inserted when you're awake. It's awful. 

NG tube insertion = the worst
With NG tube inserted and morphine and Zofran (anti-nausea) on rotation they admitted me to the hospital Sunday morning to wait. I threw up twice on Sunday with the NG tube in, something that's not supposed to happen. And I was throwing up those f*cking baby carrots so I knew the culprit. Sunday was a rough day, and I was convinced I was heading toward surgery.

In the bowel obstruction world pooping is huge, so every time anyone walked in that's the question they asked. Finally on Monday I had some movement, and on Tuesday they advanced me to clear liquids and then a soft food diet.

Today we see how I tolerate soft foods. Nobody has said the word "home" even once, so I have no idea when that might happen. I do know they want to be extra cautious and make sure the obstruction is entirely cleared before sending me out of here.

Celebrating Valentine's Day with my fam at the hospital. My little dude is used to room service, so he liked eating his dinner on my hospital tray.
Now I wait. I've been sleeping an insane amount and just being still. I never do that, so it's nice to have a quiet room with no distractions. Fingers crossed that I'm avoiding surgery, but I won't believe it until the doctor says it for certain. And from now on all of my snacks will be fattening ones full of carbs. Doctor's orders. 

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