Sunday, February 07, 2010

Three shots to the gut...

That's what it felt like. It hurt even to walk. I felt like I was carrying a solid gold brick in my belly. So what'd I do? I went home early from work, and drank Milk of Magnesia thinking it was just severe constipation. Not having health insurance, and having a general hatred of the kind of inefficient bullshit that usually happens in hospital ER's, I waited a day and a half, still drinking laxatives, before finally going to see a doctor. After being poked, x-rayed and having blood taken, I waited (still in pain mind you, because I've never been to the doctor in pain and they actually offer my anything for it). A half-hour later I was told, very matter-of-factly by the express care doctor on duty that I was not constipated, but I have diverticulitis. He actually asked me if I wanted to be admitted or be treated as an out patient. Of course, I chose outpatient and I'm sure I missed out on a wonderful (not to mention overpriced) stay with Cumberland County Health “Care” Systems (yes, I put care in quotes on purpose, but that's another rant altogether). So, after another wonderful wait at Walgreen's for about an hour and a half for my meds that we were told would take thirty minutes and cost almost $150, I headed home where I've been for close to two weeks developing cabin fever, muscle atrophy, and a pretty fucked up sleeping pattern.

I can't believe I'm only 38 and I've developed an “old man” disease already. I mean really? Diverticulitis? I know I'm fat, but damn. And I'm not getting any younger, but what the hell? For those of you who don't know, and are to lazy to look it up, diverticulitis is a disease that effects the lower large intestines (aka, the colon). Little pockets, called diverticula, form along the wall of the colon. Sometimes things get stuck in those pockets and they can become infected, causing diverticulitis. It hurts like a mother frakker. Now, here's the fun part; it can cause both constipation or diarrhea – WTF? How can the same disease have two totally opposite symptoms? Anyway, suffice it to say that I now get to eat a wonderful “old-man”, high-fiber diet to help keep this from happening again. And for the record, Metamucil decidedly does not taste like Tang, don't let anyone fool you!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the medicine and what a joy that's been to take. Now, the pain killer prescribed was Vicodin; I'm down with that. Vicodin's some good stuff with a wonderful penchant for making me sleep, and I like sleep. The antibiotic however, was one I'd never heard of; a little $14+ per pill number called Levaquin (conveniently not available in a less expensive, generic form). I looked it up. It's used for treating venereal diseases! WTF? Oh, and it “may cause dizziness.” Said so right on the bottle. So, I have an antibiotic that causes dizziness and a pain killer that does the same. Oh, yay! I get to be loopy as hell for a week! But that's not all. Seems the Levaquin also has some other side effects like muscle soreness and muscle spasms, which I directly got to experience. Boy it sure was fun having my whole torso cramp at one time to the point that I couldn't catch a breath and was almost bucked out of my chair for a full 20 minutes. Oh, and then there was the not being able to lay down at all for several days after and having to sleep in a recliner, because going prone caused the spasms to make an encore. Yep, if the disease doesn't get you, the meds will, eh?

So, this whole adventure started about eleven days ago. I can tell the infection's gone (never mind how), but things still hurt inside and I'm still having cramps. My BM's are not normal. I can almost sleep laying down (so far the couch on my back works better than on the bed one my stomach which I would prefer). I'm afraid to eat for fear of the pain it will cause coming out the other end. When I do eat, I'm eating high fiber muffins and drinking Metamucil in the morning as though I'm 70 years old. I'm almost broke because I've not even been able to go in to pick up paycheks from the hours I worked before this happened, plus the fact that I've missed a week and a half of work already and I'm not really sure if I should try to go back to work tomorrow or not.

This has been a cautionary tale. Don't let this happen to you. It sucks and it hurts. And I have no frakkin' idea how it happened to me.

~ JC

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