The Trouble with Scar Tissue: Part 1

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“It seems like every time Kathrine has an important procedure, something always goes wrong.” -my dad

After this last incident, I feel he has a point. Summer 2011 was just a messy ball of wax. My problems were no one’s fault. I’m just incredibly unlucky in the health department. No one could’ve prevented my leak causing me to go septic. No one could’ve stopped the cyst growing to the size of a tennis ball. And no one certainly twisted my bowels to kink shut. I shook the dust off my shoes and pressed onward, as I always do. But after this week, I’m not feeling peace and love for the universe, as I probably should. I mean things could be worse. But then again, things could be better, too.

Let me rewind.

February: Pain in my lower right abdomen, cramping, and random bouts of nausea. I let my medical team know of my symptoms. and my GI prescribed doxycycline, an antibiotic, thinking it was a bacterial infection. I get these frequently since my resections.

March: I didn’t get better. In fact, it was getting worse. The pain came more frequently and severely. My nausea turned into gagging. I even left school one day vomiting. I thought maybe I had caught the latest bug, but in retrospect I didn’t have any other flu-like symptoms. I scheduled an appointment to see my GI.

April: My GI said he didn’t think it was active Crohn’s. Maybe I built up antibodies to doxycyline, my routine antibiotic. He scheduled me an MRI, but also prescribed cipro. If I didn’t feel better from the cipro, then I would keep the MRI appointment. I took my meds like a model patient, but only felt worse. Before my MRI, they tested me for C. Diff, while also prescribing ANOTHER antibiotic FOR C Diff to begin taking IMMEDIATELY. I asked why not wait until I get the test results, but they didn’t want the C Diff to get worse. Take it “just in case.” Fine. I took it. My results came in 2 days later. Negative.

May: I went to my MRI, drank contrast like a good little girl and smiled for the camera with my fingers and toes crossed. I was tired of feeling ill. I hated barely slugging through the day, only to come home and crash in bed while my kids miss time with me. Because I’m half a person all of the time. I couldn’t wait to press “play” on the voice mail. I just knew they had answers for me. “Your MRI didn’t show any active disease or any narrowing of the bowel. So the question we have is what is causing your symptoms. We are going to prescribe another antibiotic for you and possibly schedule a colonoscopy.” Are you kidding me? ANOTHER ANTIBIOTIC??!! I thought we established this isn’t a bacterial infection. I’m doubled over in pain. It hurts to walk. And I puke on a regular basis. Trust me, I’m a pro at holding it in. If I can’t hold it in, something is wrong.

Before I go further, let me explain. I started to second guess myself and unravel mentally. For ten years I’ve kept meticulous tabs on my body, because that is the one thing I CAN control out of this crazy mess. But now they don’t know what’s wrong with me? They just want to throw more antibiotics at my situation? Am I insane? Are these symptoms in my head? Do I need mental help instead?

June: Before the colonoscopy, the doctor said, “I hope this shows us something, because the MRI didn’t show any active disease. If there is a narrowing, I will dilate it with a balloon, and that should help relieve you of your symptoms. I’m just not sure that’s what I’m going to find from this test. We’ll see.”

We’ll see…I woke up to a cramping belly. I’ve had this before, so I shrugged it off with a few toots, getting my kids to snicker. The doctor explained the narrowing was so bad, he couldn’t even see through the bowel. He showed me pictures. I stared at a wall of red with a tiny line running down the middle. That’s it? That’s the hole? For real? Below was an after picture, which was a wall of black, outlined by a ring of red. 18mm. My bowel should be at 30mm, he explained, but he would have to do this over several procedures.

I touched his arm and told him I could cry. I was so happy they found something! No active disease! But no wonder I’ve been feeling so terrible! This was the best news ever. I wasn’t crazy. I didn’t need a psychologist, just a widened bowel wall. Whew!

After I started to wake up from my drugged state, I began to realize something. Hold up. This doctor didn’t exactly believe me when I told him how bad off I was. He kept saying he wasn’t sure he would find anything during the colonoscopy. And afterwards, he kept saying he couldn’t believe the MRI didn’t show the narrowing. Smug is the word to describe me for all of two hours. Because I’m here to tell you, smug didn’t last long.

My cramping got worse, so I took a loritab and laid on my back on the couch, chatting with my mom. I kept thinking it would go away, but within the hour, sitting up was painful. I pulled out my phone and called MUSC…

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