I have come to realize that my colon is a man… Not sure how that is possible, but it is. I mean, it is always full of crap, it is a pain in my butt… I could go on, but you get my drift.
Two years ago, I was an average Jane- fat and sassy- with a history of IBS-D.. You know -Irritable Bowel Syndrome with… Diarrhea… growing up my granny always said I had a “nervous” stomach- and that was true, really. Whenever I got nervous, had an appointment coming up- got bad news… everyone knew they would find me shortly after- sitting on the throne. I had my first colonoscopy at 16- ulcers, gastritis… I was a MESS. But, I learned to live with it. When I got married the first time, I was already a big girl… a big girl who married a big guy. Eventually, after having two children and just living life- my husband’s weight had soared to over 450 lbs and I was close to 300 myself. I still loved him and thought he was handsome no matter what. However, he was sitting on the verge of a heart attack. We were young- still in our 20s- and he was taking a handful of pills everyday. He ended up having a gastric bypass- lost over 200 lbs, and left me. Fun stuff, right? So- I went into a major depression and my weight soared to almost 350. As a now single mother, I couldn’t afford a gastric bypass, but found a procedure called a LapBand. Still too expensive- but not quite as much. I started saving money. Then, I found out about bariatric surgeons in Mexico. For a mere $7500, I would get pre-op, two days in the hospital, and a surgery that would change my life. I know- you are shaking your head because, well, Mexico… but desperate times call for desperate measures- and I was surely desperate. So, I flew to Mexico and back- ready to change my LIFE. A year later, the lap band broke, wrapped around my intestines and had to be removed. Well Crap… So, I start petitioning BCBS for a Gastroc Bypass. This was the year when they were paying for them, but only until Dec 31. A few months later, I got the approval by my insurance for a Gastric Bypass, and this time only had to travel as far as Ocean Springs, Mississippi-celebrating the new year in the hospital. Afterwards, I lost a lot of weight and kept it off for a while. After about 10 years- a portion had come back- but not enough for me to worry. I was happy and healthy. Fast-forward to 2015. I had reconnected on FB with a friend from High School and, before you know it, he had proposed. At this point, I was still dealing with 3 BMs a day- but that had been a part of my life for so very long, it was normal. As my wedding got closer, I was exercising every day, and decided to take some HydroxyCut pills just to help me with those few extra pounds to get me in that wedding dress- a low cut number to show off my… assets, with a tight corseted waist that shows just how small my waist was the day I said I DO. During that time, I noticed my… movements… had slowed to only twice a day- but I figured I was eating less… so it was all good. I kept working out, taking the pills… Then it happened… I stopped going AT ALL… What the heck. I had not went a day without a BM since I was a teenager… Now suddenly it stopped… I thought maybe my nerves had flipped the script on me and instead of causing diarrhea, it was causing constipation. I mean, i was planning a huge wedding and becoming a step mom for the first time… so many changes. For a few days, then a week, I thought it would be FINE. I tried not to even think about it. The wedding went off without a hitch- I fit in that beautiful dress- and all was good- except I still wasn’t going. My BFF said- GIRL- you get yourself in to see the DR. This ain’t like you!”. I got in pretty quickly- like within 2 days- after I told them my situation. When I walked in the office I had not had a BM in 21 days. YES- 21 days. Like 3 whole weeks… My husband loved to joke saying I couldn’t get mad when he said I was full of crap, because I really was! So- they scheduled an emergency Colonoscopy for the following day. I did the prep= which did not do its job- but cleared enough that they could see what they needed to see. They found I had an Atonic Colon… I came to understand that basically meant it just wasn’t working right. They had NO idea why. All they knew was that it had slowed to almost a stop…. Then the meds started… this was the end of October 2015. I went through every medication out there, I had exhausted all of the Over the COunter stuff- and now went from script to script until I tried all of those as well. Finally, as the summer approached- the DR decided to send me to a Motility Specialist hundreds of miles away in a different state… I stayed there for 5 days- having test after test. This was a teaching hospital- so I had students sitting in on every procedure. You cannot imagine the tests. I had so many different people wiping my backside that week- I can’t keep up. I had a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, biofeedback, stress tests… tubes in and tubes out… internal sonograms… 24 hours wearing wiring that had been implanted in my colon that tracked the muscle movements- which my husband had to adjust periodically and check each time I went to the bathroom… had to eat various foods with probes inside of me… so many tests. At the end of the week- the team came in and gave me the news. My colon had basically stopped working- my rectum as well… SOOOO- my poop-shoot just didnt work anymore. So- back home to find a surgeon. I had to lose my colon and would end up with a colostomy bag. Oddly- with the recommendations of TWO specialists… no one wanted to do that type of surgery on a woman just hitting 40. It took me so long to find a surgeon, my surgery was scheduled for the first day of school. Being a school teacher, this was beyond stressful for me- but I pushed forward. I assumed I would be waking up with my backside sewn shut and a stoma in my side- or at least all of my uncooperative colon gone and my small intestine attached to my backside. BUT- instead- I wake up with neither. I wake up with the surgeon telling me he found a section of my colon that had been compressed by my gastric bypass- so he removed up to that section- reattached the rest of the colon… and now we just had to hope for the best… It was a 50/50 chance that this would work. We just need to hope for the best. I didnt know whether to be thankful that I didnt have a bag- or angry that the Dr made a judgement call without consulting ANYONE. I decided to err on the positive side and believe that I would be fixed…. took me 7 days to go the first time- which was SOOO painful- but I went- so I got to go home. At my month checkup, I told the surgeon I was still not going like I should… still 5 or 8 days… still impacted… he told me to give it more time. He gave me fiber packets to drink and sent me home. When I saw him again, my stomach had swollen so large it looked as if I had a hernia. He said it was fine and that it would get better… Guess what, it didn’t. And, almost as soon as I got home, I started to gain weight. And I mean FAST. Within a few months, i had ballooned 50lbs. Here I was, practically a newlywed- sick for the first year of marriage- major surgery- and now I was plumping up like a Thanksgiving turkey. I saw a specialist on kidney issues as well as an endocrinologist. I then went back to my original gastro doc over and over… the dr talked to be about dieting… then he basically told me there was nothing else they could do for me… the only option was to have the second surgery- and that was up to the surgeon. After a few months, a new and scary symptom arose- I was having trouble swallowing. Food was actually getting stuck and gagging me. So- emergency endoscopy which resulted in my throat being stretched.
So- here I am, coming up on the first year anniversary of my partial-colectomy… and here is where I stand… I have a colon that doesn’t work on its own. I envy friends who get stomach viruses= REALLY. The nerves that control your colon and rectum ALSO somehow control your kidneys and bladder- so I also have issues with not emptying my bladder, leakage… Great stuff. My throat has begun shrinking again, leaving me choking many times while I am eating… and after 6 weeks of restrictive diet and taking Phentermine… I only lost 1 pound… I am headed for a sonogram of my throat area Friday in the Endocrinologists office- blood work showed nothing, but they feel that I have either a thyroid issue or an auto immune disorder… every night I take a handful of pills for various ailments, and every morning a handful of vitamins and probiotics. The backup in my system causes me to have severe bacterial outbreaks in my system- causing swelling and painful gas. At times I look 9 months pregnant with triplets. My teeth are falling out- crumbling in little pieces- my eyes and skin are dry- my face looks blotchy- and my hair is falling out. Bacteria leads to thrush through-out my body, especially my mouth, and I have sores in my mouth and nose. I have one med that, if I take it every 3 or 4 days- it will allow me to go- but it is so unpredictable… Sometimes I can take it and nothing happens… the next time I take it, I have to be really close to a bathroom because in 30 minutes my bowels will dump their entire contents in one big WHOOSH. So- I cannot take this unpredictable medication when I have anything to do.I can’t take it in the evening for fear it will wait until I am sleeping… I am on the highest dose- and at times have taken 2 or 3- with still no result. It is overly frustrating. Feeling your body continue to grow bigger and bigger- with nothing stopping it. Lying down with this huge pregnant belly smothering me- or lying on my side with it poking straight out- not wanting my husband to hold me because I am so huge- my stomach is so huge. Some days it feels so bruised I feel like I AM pregnant with triplets- ones that are beating me from the inside. I know there are people out there who are battling cancer and MS, brain tumors and debilitating illnesses. I know that I have it so much better than others do. But I also know I am miserable and just want to go back to being me. If that means a colostomy bag- another surgery- a “barbie butt” that doesnt work anymore- so be it. I just want to get my life back.