Monday, April 19, 2010

What it is to be Addicted

I will always purport that I do not have an addictive personality.  My Crohn's, however, has a different grasp of physiological priority.

We all know the taste of sweet freedom that comes with the alleviation of a flare.  The opportunity to stuff ourselves with forbidden sweets, meats, fiber and alcohol is oddly new every time it occurs.  Be it a week of starvation or six months, the gustatory ambition that surfaces at the first sight of a pain-free day is unstoppable.  This is celebration (and, perhaps, weakness), but not addiction.

No, the phenomenon of which I speak is of a chronic and somewhat masochistic nature: a beast that hibernates during the most turbulent parts of Flare Season and soon overwhelms the first glimpses of attenuated agony that might suggest the ingestion of food without consequence.

I speak, of course, of The Compulsion.  Normally, The Compulsion takes the form of the homunculus in my brain who demands that I constantly have something constructive for it to do.  Lately, after eight months of excruciatingly limited diet, The Compulsion is more concerned with food.

Primarily when we have guests staying for weeks at a time in our home (which is more often than you would suppose), The Compulsion wants to be a good host and assumes the responsibility of eating and drinking those forbidden sweets, meats fibers and alcohols that our friends appreciate in our cooking.

And so, Dear Friends, the last week has once again been especially filled with pleasant dining and indulgence in my favorite wines (in the tragic way that only an oenophile can treasure good wine after eight months prohibition).  This, while keeping The Compulsion happy and contented, has been accompanied by nightly sits with the hot pad; teaearlgreyhot; the toilet and, occasionally, our loving companion, Percocet.

This is the plight of an addict -- to lack the composure to say no to food and drink in social scenarios, even when the pain is immediate.  Seriously; if you've ever tried to quell alcoholism or quit chain smoking, this is the mental state I am in right now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Of Sloth, Glutton and Remicade VII

On Friday night, I lost my family dog.  Physiologically an aging hound, he was otherwise a puppy; he was an energetic, spoiled, happy, somewhat disobedient, gorgeous, gigantic puppy.  I did not become aware that he was even ill until two hours before he died, and the blindsided nature of his death is what makes it so difficult.  Post hoc analysis (note: assessment of tests/behavior, not autopsy) has strongly suggested that he had a stomach tumor which ruptured and took him fairly quickly.  My poor little Aussie-Collie-Horse-Cow-Dragon (yeah, 80 lbs of pure child and beauty).  I am choosing to ignore the frequency of this fate in many dog breeds and feel that it is oddly ironic that my dog should die of stomach cancer.  It was hard after rushing to my family's house in shocked and frightened tears to see him just laying there majestically in the backyard.  I don't know how my parents managed to be with him as he twitched and let out his last breath.  I don't know how my father found the composure to clean the vomit from his front paws and close his eyes.  I have no idea how, two hours after I arrived, I was finally able to go outside and sit with him, kiss his head and stroke his back to say goodbye.  I have no idea how I managed to leave his side.  No matter how comfortable I become with the nature of death, it always destroys me.

Enter the Sloth.  On Saturday, feeling physiologically superior to what I have now accepted as my "normal" self, I hoped to be constructive.  I hoped to write my science paper, my "novel" and give some attention to my books -- I am thoroughly engrossed in the 12th and 13th century and m seemingly unable to wrench myself from it.  Instead, I moped in bed until 9am and let H.K. drag me to the park to play with his new sexy camera and micro-dolly.  There were, of course, dogs at the park.  None of them were nearly as beautiful as Shep, and made me miss him all the more (I have included a photo for those of you who never met him and begrudge my maternal bias).  I came home and moped some more, with a bit of writing peppered into the evening.

Enter the Glutton.  I have, since Friday night, been consoling myself with Tootsie pops and pomegranate juice (the latter is prescribed for my non-infection-[now]E.coli-infection, I assure you).  It has to be something like eight spanning the weekend.  I've also been gorging on crackers and forbidden cooked vegetables, since my appetite has chosen to overwhelm me in the absence of pain (which before today was on a 4-day winning streak).  And that craving for hard boiled eggs?  That had me bringing up my entire stomach contents last week, and -- surprisingly -- again, when I ate them today anyway not wanting to waste food.  But let me take a step back...

Enter the Remicade.  On Sunday morning, I received a phone call at 942am asking if I could come in for my infusion at 10am instead of 2pm, as I was scheduled.  This was such a strangely healing day.  I packed my Infusion Survival Kit and made it to the hospital by 1002am.  For what seemed like only 2.5 hours (as opposed to the usual 4) I sat working on my science article with old Simpsons episodes in the background and Nilla Wafers at my side.  When I drove home, I ran a mile and a half (this is a big step forward for me since last August), cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed the rest of the apartment and wrote some more science before crashing in my bed with my tea and Frank McLynn's version of Richard and John Plantagenet.  Then we made coconut lemongrass chicken soup for supper (which has become a weekly habit).  One hell of an awesome day.

Today is a miserable one, but not because it is Monday.  As aforementioned, I decided to eat some hard boiled eggs today; not a good decision.  Work flew by in what seemed like a third of the time I spent there -- I don't even remember doing most of what I did.  The bus ride home was twice as long because I was concentrating so hard on not vomiting.  My dear friend is coming to stay with us for a week and I do not have the energy to adequately prepare the house/her bedroom for her.  My stomach is raging at me.  And I am still finding it a strenuous task to come to terms with losing Shep, although his quick departure is a comfort in that his pain was somewhat minimal, and not drawn out for months in attempt to stabilize him on various medications.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Madness, Glorious Madness

I hesitated to report until I was sure the following occurence was not a fluke.  Still not 100% convinced, I am willing to at least admit that I am utterly flabbergasted.

Beginning on Thursday April 1st, 2010, there was a noteable absence of  stomach pain/nausea/dizziness/hot flash that lasted the entire day.  An April Fool's joke from my insides, I thought, a silly trick my own mind is playing on me by bestowing a fleeting power to ignore all discomfort.

Lo' and behold, I awoke Friday April 2nd with yet another suspicious lack of agony.  What is this chicanery, I thought.  Since when do April Fool's tricks legally last beyond the first 24 hours of the month?  Naturally, I tried to out-do this mind-gut-wizard triumvirate by stuffing myself with a full serving of rice noodles.  Surely, this will welcome back the pattern of food=pain=nofood=pain that has characterized the last 2 weeks.  Alas, I returned home with a psychotic energy and not enough time to utilize it.  I ran, I cleaned, I made business phone calls, I added a few unpromising pages to Raganovel 20??... no percocet or hot bladder required.  Tea, however, is always required.

When Saturday came and I was approaching 3 full days without the familiar stomach pain/nausea/dizziness/hot flash to which I have become accustomed, I decided a further assault was in order.  Sushi.  That's right.  Raw tuna, crab, yellow tail and avocado.  And I waited impatiently for an army of nociceptors to wreak havoc.  Half an hour later, thirty measly minutes of stomach bloating.

Sunday I was beginning to think this was something I may have to get used to, so I pushed it to the max: pasta with a few peppers/zucchini/chicken/garlic and a bit of oil in the sauce, some organic gummy candies and a diet ginger ale, and a hardboiled egg wish horseradish (yeah, serious business).  Nothing.  Not a god damn peep.  Total comfort, almost total sleep aside from waking up every three hours for no apparent reason, total abandonment of the hot water bladder (for whose neglect I feel considerable guilt).

Today, Monday April 5th, 2010, is the last of four hellfire Mondays of this experiment at work, and I not only ran before work for the first time in 1.5 weeks, but am on a productive and enthusiastic roll.  My doctor may have been right about my experiencing a delayed withdrawal from Prednisone.  We shall see in the coming days.  Remicade VII is up to bat this weekend.

Cheers, Crohn's, you have me convinced that I am at the very least experiencing some kind of prolonged bodily displacement.  And Tummeh... job well done.