I-I-I-I-I-I-I’mmmmm NOT dyyyyyyyyiiiiiinnnnngggg…

Hi ya’ll so here’s Part II of my saga with colitis that I wrote in response to an amazing gal’s request to be part of an online publication she started about living with IBD.  Her name is Brooke.  You should definitely check out her first edition of Companion Magazine.  It’s truly awesome.  Thanks so much Brooke!  Also, if this story gets too wordy, you can see the abridged version in the magazine:)

Part II of my story (If you feel left out because you haven’t read Part I go ahead and click here: Part I):

Here's a pic of my husband and I this Halloween.  We made our own masks (mine is hanging round my neck in this photo).

Here’s a pic of my husband and I this Halloween. We made our own masks (mine is hanging round my neck in this photo).

I eventually admitted myself to the emergency room. My family had been to my college to visit and had left only the day prior.  I remember dressing my sister up in a wedding dress sort of number and taking artsy photographs of her in the graveyard near my dormitory for my black and white photography class.  I think my mom suspected something since I had gotten up multiple times during the night to use the bathroom; but, to this day, I don’t know why I didn’t tell them exactly what was going on.  I think I called my mom from the emergency room.  It must have been while I was waiting (some 5 hours or so) to find out the results of some tests they had run.  Prognosis: acute pancreatitis and ulcerative colitis.  I think it was just my mom who arrived the next day at the hospital.  After a one week stay, I got out on Halloween and promptly went out with friends to a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I wasn’t going to let some stupid illness keep me from enjoying my favorite holiday.  Hmmm, I just realized that at least 3 of my major flare-ups happened around Halloween.  Oh well, still not going to let it ruin my Halloweens past, present or future.

Here's a page of my sketchbook that I drew depicting my first hospitalization/first colonoscopy.  It's hard to see but I believe I've written "Are we having fun yet" across the top.  I was a bit cynical about the whole thing.

Here’s a page of my sketchbook that I drew depicting my first hospitalization/first colonoscopy. It’s hard to see but I believe I’ve written “Are we having fun yet” across the top. I was a bit cynical about the whole thing.

I had my first colonoscopy during this hospital stay and also began my first regimen of Prednisone (those oh so wonderful steroids).  The only dietary restriction they put me on was not to eat any salt (due to the potential for “moonface”, aka a really big freaking swollen face).  It seemed that anything “salt-free” was also “fat-free” which did not help at all with my malnourishment and weight loss.  I continued to eat candy (after all, it didn’t have salt in it) and all sorts of things that I have now entirely ruled out of my diet.  After that incident, my pancreatitis seemed to subside and only came back one more time (as evidenced by a sonogram saying that my pancreas looked like chopped liver) but I had no pain and it seemed to go away.  A recent blood test revealed “pancreatic insufficiency” but my doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it.

Dance (especially belly dance) has become a form of therapy for me (makes sense as most of my issues stem from the belly area).

Dance (especially belly dance) has become a form of therapy for me (makes sense as most of my issues stem from the belly area).  Photo by Jo-Lynn Otto

After that first hospitalization, I decided to change my life around, including my major.  While in the hospital, I could hear a woman across the hall from me moaning (day and night) a slow and scratchy “I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I’mmmmm dyyyyyyyiiiiiiiinnnnnggg, I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I’mmmmm dyyyyyyyiiiiiiiinnnnnggg” over and over again.  When I gave the nurse a curious look in response to the moans, she looked me straight in the eye and explained in a harsh tone of voice that I didn’t have it that bad and that there were a lot of people in the hospital who were a lot worse off than me.  GEEZE!  I would have cried if I wasn’t so shocked.  But, I guess she had a point.  So when I got out of that hospital, I turned in the illustration assignment that I completed in the hospital, iv in hand, and promptly notified my teacher that I would be changing my major to painting (the least restrictive of the art majors, meaning I would have the most freedom to express myself artistically without the constraints of what I saw to be unnecessary requirements).  I also started taking ballroom and belly dance classes and began studying martial arts (kenpo karate).  I was going to make the most of my life because I wanted to, and a part of me felt like my colitis was a way of my body telling me I wasn’t appreciating it enough and appreciating myself enough.

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