Saturday, September 29, 2012

wherein the anti-inflammatory diet bites me back

On September 27th, I woke up with stomach cramps.  They weren't strong enough to prevent me from biking to work and I expected that they would wear off by mid-morning as they and nausea typically do.  On this occasion, however, the opposite occurred and the cramps not only got stronger but began cycling through the wave, with which all Crohns are familiar.

For those unfamiliar, the wave is a cycle of pain in which the sensation begins modestly and proceeds to grow like a swell before hitting a peak around which it dawdles for a time and then swells back down.  Each cycle can last anywhere from 1-10 min depending on how violent is your episode.

The day before, I was very proud to have gone my first complete day without eating any "illegal" foods on my self-imposed anti-inflammatory diet.  Like a veteran, I weened myself away from refined sugars and carbs very slowly:
Breakfast:  banana and blueberry smoothie (with coconut oil) 
Lunch: leftover steamed veggies and roasted fennel
Supper: coconut flour biscuit with lox and raisin cashew carrot salad (with lemon juice)
Apart from the food -- none of which was new to my system nor should have done any harm -- the day was not without a very significant amount of stress, which no doubt contributed to the episode the following day.

Since I had a masters and undergraduate student arriving on the 27th to be under my supervision, and the 4th day of 12 straight days of behavior to conquer, there was to be no standing down.  By 10am, however, the waves had picked up their ardor and I found myself clutching my stomach while giving a microscope tutorial and a brief anatomy lesson.

At 1130am it was time to traipse from the medical to the main campus (~10 min walk) to do behavior.  By this time, the waves were such that when I walked I could feel every reverberation from the placement of my feet -- a shock spiraled up my spine each time my heel hit, the ball of my foot, my big toe, the rest of my toes, and as weight shifted back to the ball of my foot, to the side, and as my heel lifted and weight transfered to my ball and toes again.  It took me almost 20 min to make that trip, slowing down in attempt to increased the fluidity of my steps in vain effort to avoid the reverberations.

Just 2 hrs, I told myself, and H.K. will pick me up and bring me home to drug myself into oblivion and hopefully avoid a visit to the ER.  To briefly elaborate, the wave is almost never a sign of a rupture or abscess.  Four times in my Crohn history a day like this has been as debilitating: the first, when I was maybe 14 and no visit to the ER was made, and I was fine; the second, third and fourth when I was in my early 20s and made visits to the ER during which I was given morphine and a CT scan after which time I was sent home with a bottle of percocet and told that nothing was wrong.  The all-too-familiar gab of a physician who doesn't give a shit.  As a scientist, I can tell you via very basic logic, that if the body allows nociception to deliver enough consistent pain to knock a person off their feet, there is something wrong.  There just is.

I have no idea how I survived those 2 hrs of behavior.  Honestly.  I'm fairly certain that I took the opportunity to black the fuck out during my 20 min break.  As to my subjects?  I have tremendous and impressive control over the projection of my chakras.  If they knew anything was amiss, I would be flabbergasted.

In any case, I did not go to the useless and unhelpful ER.  I did, however, take 20 mg oxycodone over the course of the evening, and a hit from my vaporizer each time I awoke in pain throughout the wee hours (1, 3, 4 and 5am).  Yes, my friends, it was in fact that bad.  On this day, I was only able to stomach a few spoonfuls of broth and 2 saltines, and that only to give the oxy something to mingle with.

On Sept 28th, I did not move from my bed until 11am, at which time I needed to return to the lab to do more behavior.  This was a most assured FML event.  H.K. was wonderful enough to put off his own work for a few hours to stuff a Boost down my throat, drive me to my destination and run an errand for me while I did my thang.

Upon returning home, I again relieved the still miserable but notably less excruciating pain with more drugs and slept until the evening.  Not a BM to be found through this whole saga, mind you, nor was this gas related.  So the remaining culprits are stress and food intolerance.

Today, the 29th, I am sore, weak, bloated and nauseous, but the wave is gone.  I performed my behavioral tests today in significantly less agony.  And I am slowly adding back solid -- although not remotely anti-inflammatory -- foods back into my system.  Saltines?  Noodle soup?  Jello?  This is a documented instance in which anti-inflammatory food brought me to my knees and carbs and sugar revived me.

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