[headline_tahoma_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Chapter 3 – Digesting Digestive Disorder[/headline_tahoma_medium_centered]
[headline_tahoma_small_centered color=”#000000″]Accelerating Decline[/headline_tahoma_small_centered]
I found myself on a major detour from my planned route in life. Forget running, teaching, and my work, I couldn’t even help with the dishes anymore. I couldn’t help tuck the kids in at night. I barely had the energy to walk down the stairs, let alone run or play with my kids. The intensity of my concern rose daily as I lay there flat on my back in pain with increasingly bloody bowel movements.
“Why is this not getting any better? Why does this supposed specialist not seem to have a clue what is really going on with me? There has to be something else wrong!” We had no answers. My lifestyle had been completely shut down, powered off, and turned upside down and inside out. In less than a month I had gone from being a super energetic, take all three little kids camping by myself, conquer the world Dad and husband, to feeling like a lump of worthless mass lying in bed, sucking the energy out of everything around me because I couldn’t do anything for myself, let alone anyone else.
And suddenly concern for my wife’s sanity skipped the line right to the front of my attention. Not only did she have a six week old baby girl who demanded most of her attention and energy, but now she didn’t have any help with the huge needs of the other three young children. And as if that weren’t enough, I couldn’t even get my own food anymore! I could see her emotional reserves draining.
Early in the year I felt driven to automate and outsource my real estate business in order to spend more time working on what I felt called toward: helping others see their life as truly amazing. I was blessed to discover ways to automate that previously appeared impossible. In short order I had reduced my involvement to about 10 hours per week, and watched in amazement as it became even more profitable and successful.
So now with my body shutting down, no stress about income was a major blessing! It’s amazing to me how everything falls into perfect place in life as I follow my heart, and this was no exception.
I suppose I could choose to see things as not working out at all at this point since my body was technically killing itself. But I didn’t view it that way. While I often don’t understand trials in the moment, I always know they will be good for me somehow. I felt gratitude for the inspiration and motivation to unwittingly prepare for this illness financially. It brought immense relief during a time full of fears and uncertainties.
Clearly the way we decide to view things is largely our own choice. We can teach ourselves to look at things differently. If we constantly seek to be grateful our life will be full of miracles and blessings, even during the most difficult seasons.
I felt this was all for a good purpose, but I had no idea where it would lead. Nor could I see the purpose entirely. And as the whirlpool sucked us in faster each day my situation quickly became a burden the entire family had to bear.
[headline_tahoma_small_centered color=”#000000″]Unwanted Rituals[/headline_tahoma_small_centered]
One morning the pain reached a new level of extreme, with burning so intense, even the hot bath no longer helped. I plunked my head against the tile in the corner of the bathtub wall and sobbed uncontrollably.
I could handle a lot of pain, but this overwhelmed me. Out of energy and no idea what to do, I dragged myself naked to my bed, curled in the fetal position, and continued bawling for 10 to 15 minutes. Beyond miserable and bordering insanity.
Nan must have been freaked out. Here was her strong, capable husband, now naked convulsing in the bed out of control. And nothing she could do would help.
At some point the idea came to mind that the burning might just be caused by a tight, seizing sphincter muscle. I begged Nan for some rubber gloves and petroleum jelly and for the next 15 minutes worked the tight muscle apart with my finger. Horribly awkward and taxing on my arm and shoulder, but it worked! The tension and burning died down my whole body relaxed. Aaahhhhhhhhh!
I lay there then in bed, in what felt like heaven thanks to the amazing contrast of relief from such intense agony, physical effort, and near mental breakdown.
That day I called my GI Doc again and explained how much worse I felt and how my body’s weight and energy steadily declined. I couldn’t stand up much at all anymore, and now even hot baths were no help. Realizing the severity of the issue he scheduled me for the soonest available Sigmoidoscopy (placing a camera into the lower colon to observe). In preparation they told me to fast for 12 hours and then do two enemas to empty my colon within an hour before the appointment.
“Great, let’s find out what’s going on!” I thought.
By now I had read a bunch online and started hypothesizing that perhaps I had either Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. I sincerely hoped I had neither! Because the lifelong consequences of those chronic, incurable (according to the medical society) diseases looked daunting and undesirable to say the very least. But it could be even worse, like cancer. Now six weeks in and progressively deteriorating, I was desperate to know the cause and solution to this life-destroying pain.
The night before the appointment as I attempted to sleep the intense and burning pain resumed in its full non-glory. I retired to my bed of blankets in the guest bedroom at the back corner of our basement where I could perform my nightly rubber glove and bathtub rituals without constantly waking up Nan.
Lonely and discouraged in the middle of the night I tried to read, refilling the tub with warm water every hour or so. But tonight the pain didn’t allow reading. So I focused on breathing. I tried to sleep in the tub. I tried to sleep on the floor in every position possible. But the burning waves would intensify and jar me awake. As I glanced at the clock, hoping beyond hope that I had slept for an hour, my heart would plummet seeing only eight minutes had passed. All night long I repeated this torturous game. And every glance at those red digital clock numbers stung worse than the glance before. But all I could do was shift from my blanket on the floor to the tub and back, all night. Constantly praying, begging for it to somehow miraculously just be seven o’ clock already so I could take the enemas and get to the bottom of this insanity.
When Seven AM mercifully arrived, I prepared one of the salt water fleece enemas that seemed to have no problem patiently waiting all night, mocking me from their comfortable place on the night stand. I inserted it, squeezed in the fluid, and lay on my side to wait as long as I could before rushing to the bathroom.
After just a couple minutes I rushed to the toilet for the impending flush of my system. The moment I squatted over the toilet the most painful burning I can ever recall ensued. Trumping all previous burnings! How does this keep getting worse?? An involuntary scream of agony roared out of my mouth. Apparently the pure salt water passing through my damaged and lacerated anal canal meant business, in a serious way. And the fire raged on. I think every muscle in my body contracted as I screamed in agony over that toilet.
Unprepared for that kind of pain, it taxed and overwhelmed my entire system. But it passed and I wobbled back to my bed on the ground to catch my breath and recover.
“How am I going to survive another one of those??!?” The thought made me cringe and curl up in a ball and I cried. “I don’t know if I have it in me to go through that again.” I whimpered to myself and to God.
But I had to do it. I couldn’t risk not being prepared for the camera and risk delaying my diagnosis even further. So after about 25 minutes of resting and talking myself up. I braced myself and inserted the second enema. “Here goes!” I lay there and waited for the ensuing explosion of pain. Less than a minute later I dragged myself to my feet and speed-hobbled to the bathroom.
“AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!” Equally if not more intense this time. I screamed, and moaned, and cried in pain until everything was out. The process zapped all my energy, and sent me into a dazed state of bewilderment and sadness.
“How can this be the state of my life? How can I go on dealing with these insane levels of pain? This is just getting worse and worse!” Tears flowed freely.
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