3.31.2015

Through a Straw

I've been a lazy blogger lately, and it's not for a lack of things to blog about. My world has been spinning with things like treatment, head shavings, work, colon cancer awareness month, and what any nice Southern belle might call "pooping through a straw." There is no more lady-like way to put it, and no more descriptive word than water. And it has consumed me, and any toilet within sprinting distance.

It started a few days after I enjoyed an unexciting salad while out to dinner. At first I blamed that little bit of gluten I had. Or maybe it was the dirty lettuce. All I know is I finally busted out the Imodium, which is something I never take - even when Irinotecan is destroying my gut. One dose and I'm good for days. And I don't like to be good for days.

Only 1 dose did nothing. Neither did the next 5 doses I took. I made it 6 days until my next oncology appointment, where I specifically told my doctor that I thought it was something I ate. I had yet to start the famous Destroyer of Bowels - Irinotecan, and he didn't seem concerned.

He prescribed Lomotil, and told me to take it every 6 hours. A week later, it was doing nothing to help the problem and I was bumped up to every 4 hours, alternating with Imodium. It had zero impact.

Hello, Xombie Hands!

He then prescribed Opium. Yes, THE Opium. Before you get excited and want to come over and try and get high with me, let me tell you that the stuff smells like jet fuel and tastes like rotten petrol. I managed to get it down mixed in a glass of OJ. 2 days later, it was also doing nothing to help the problem.

This is where the story gets exciting and perhaps a little graphic for those of you too embarrassed to talk about what goes on behind the bathroom door. I went into oncology, where I provided 10+ tubes of blood, and pooped in a bowl. Trust me, this wasn't the first time. Or the second. Or the third.

I wasn't given a bowl and a test kit hidden in a opaque bag and sent home. The bowl was placed right there on the toilet in the infusion room. I tell you, there is no other place where bathroom activities are talked about more than in an infusion room. Everyone is in the same boat, so you will get nothing but empathy, a listening ear, and some nurses who have seen it all.

I had the joy of opening the door of the bathroom and inviting my nurse in to collect what she needed. At this point in my life, I can have no shame in this department. The things that have been done to my body on the operating table are far more traumatic than having a nurse scoop your poop. It's reasons like this that I was not cut out to be a nurse. For as much as my own diagnosis revolved around poop, I can't handle it myself. Or at least handle yours.

At this point, I was sure my samples would come back to say I had c-diff - a lovely little superbug that has found its way out into the general population, and is referred to as the "deadly diarrhea" for the numbers of people it kills each year. I was also swearing that I had cholera, or some other 3rd world disease that would have killed me had I not had access to all the Gatorade I had been drinking.

The test for c-diff, listeria, salmonella, and e. coli all came back negative, and my life continued to revolve around when I ate, how much I ate, and where I was 6 prompt hours later.

In the mean time, I moved on to a shot - something called Octreotide Acetate. I started with 7.5ml 2 times day. Within a week I was up to 1.0ml 3 times a day. After another week I finally threw in the towel on the shots as they were clearly not helping at all. 

After my last round of chemo, I headed straight to DC for an colorectal cancer advocacy event, where I dragged my dehydrated self around the Capital and all the way back home with that happy face I'm accustom to wearing despite the misery. By the time I got off the plane, I could barely stand up, and weighed 18 pounds less that I did 4 weeks before when this started. This is not an exaggeration. I knew I was going to oncology the next morning, and also had a gastroenterology appointment I had been looking forward to for over a week. There was no one more excited about going to see a gastroenterologist at this point. Given that I still have 99% of my colon, the services of a gastro aren't something I need.

3 bags of fluid, electrolytes, potassium, and one dryly humorous gastro later, I saw what I hoped was the light at the end of this 4 week tunnel of horrendous fluid export. I was off all chemo until further notice, was scheduled for a flex sigmoidoscopy (to take tissue samples), and was bringing in my own samples to be tested for a few more parasites that can be found on dirty lettuce: giardia, cryptosporidium, and cyclospora. Try scooping up water with a tongue depressor if you want to know how much I suck at that whole "samples" bit.

After a fun afternoon laying on my left side and admiring the inside of my very healthy colon, I left with the hope that I could be well on my way to normal again soon. Little did I know normal would finally come on its own less than 24 hours later. Before a diagnosis could even be delivered, everything slowed down and returned to normal.

A week later and I'm still waiting for the lab results from my samples. In the mean time, I don't have Celiac disease, tissue samples confirmed I still have a very healthy colon, and I'm pretty certain I won the dirty lettuce lottery. As I work to put a few pounds back on before resuming treatment tomorrow, I can safely say it will be a while before I order a salad at a restaurant again.



1 comment:

Carrie S. said...

So strange that everything came back negative and it lasted so long! Glad you are feeling better!