crohns

Ostomy Awareness Day 2019 - #MyOstomyMyLifesaver

Osotmies are Life-Savers UOAA Ostomy Awareness Day 2019

I have Crohn's disease. More specifically, severe Crohn's disease.

Crohn's disease is one of a class of autoimmune diseases. The common theme for these diseases (including RA, Lupus, Colitis, MS, Psoriasis, etc.) is your body's immune system decides it's more fun attacking your own body than it is to attack outside infections.

Currently, there are no cures for Crohns or Colitis (a very closely related Inflammatory Bowel Disease). There is no diet, no lifestyle change, and no pill that can make those suffering from a Crohn's disease flare-up heal permanently.

There are a lot of drugs that can help. I should know, I've been on literally every one of them.

But for many people with IBD, the drugs stop helping (or never help in the first place), and your immune system goes thermonuclear on your guts. This happened to me last year.

Recovering from surgery and living with my friend, the Stoma

It's been just over two weeks since the big one; I had my colon removed and was given in its place an ileostomy, which dramatically changes the way I go number two.

As with most stages of my Crohn's journey, I thought I'd write up this blog post with my experiences—and maybe a liiiiittle sarcasm thrown in—for the benefit of anyone else going through a similar situation.

Bowel Prep

My doctor requested a full cleanout for this surgery, I guess so he wouldn't have to deal with stinky poo while yanking out my guts, and I obliged. Unfortunately, for most Crohnies or IBD patients who have to get a colectomy, they're already not in a great place prior to surgery, and neither was I. I was already underweight and not nearly 100% energy-wise, so having to empty out (same prep as for a colonoscopy) meant I did as much as I could to stay hydrated and not faint.

Colons, semicolons, and Crohns surgery, oh my!

"Rectum? Darn near killed 'em!"

— My Grandma, every time she has the opportunity...

In a short time, I'll be getting a "total colectomy and proctectomy" (or, for short, "proctocolectomy"!). This is a procedure where a doctor takes a robot with pointy sticks and knives, sets it loose in my belly, and then the robot proceeds to become sentient and take over my body cut out all of my digestive system, from the end of the small bowel, to... the end end.

Colectomy diagram - red scribbles over large intestine colon and rectum

Red = parts to be removed (source: Wikipedia).

Heaping Helpings of Hospital Humor for Healing

As a Geerling, when a situation goes upside-down I turn to humor. If you need evidence, go read The Joy of Crohn's. Back? Good.

Take today, for example. Day 3 stuck in a hospital due to complications from having Crohn's disease.

Jeff makes a strong arm with a new picc line inserted

I'm in a bit of an awkward situation: I'm mostly fine, and I can walk around, do most things normally, talk, eat, etc. But I have this one little problem: My poop (due to having Crohn's disease) has gone thermonuclear, and it's now affecting my health.

Apparently I have this thing called CMV Colitis. It's one of a number of ailments that either exclusively affects immunocompromised patients (generally, people with IBD, Crohn's, Lupus, etc.), or makes said patients waaaay worse off than your average person. Like, nearly fatal instead of a low grade fever!

Anyways, picture an average week in a Crohnie's life:

Colonoscopy, or: Mount Vesuvius followed by blissful sleepytime!

Alternate title: How I survive 8 hours on a toilet, then enjoy the most relaxing 30 minute nap of my life

I still haven't decided if gastrointestinal doctors are genuinely caring, or sociopaths.

If you have Crohn's or some other form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or if you're 50 or some multiple of ten beyond that, chances are you've had one or more colonoscopies. If you're even luckier, and have active and/or moderate-to-severe IBD, there's a good chance you've averaged at least one colonoscopy per year (my current record is two in a year!).

I'm prepping for my (by my count) 8th colonoscopy tonight, and while I still have the energy, I figured I might as well write something about the process, in the hope that I can make the process slightly better for you. There's something about sitting on a shiny white porcelain object that makes one wax eloquently about... human waste?

Server Check.in turns 4 years old

I started Server Check.in, a simple website and server uptime monitoring service, almost four years ago. I built it when I was in the hospital and recovering from mono (symptoms were worse because of one of the Crohn's-related drugs I was taking), and it's been a very slowly-but-steadily growing service since.

Server Check.in logo

I wrote a four-year retrospective post on the service, and published it on the Server Check.in blog: Four years running Server Check.in.

The Joy of Crohn's

According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, there are 1.6 million Americans with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). While that means less than 1% of Americans have either Crohn's or Colitis, that's a pretty big number—and chances are you know someone with IBD, maybe even a close relative!

But due to the fact that Crohn's is usually an invisible illness, many people don't know some of the myriad joys of a typical Crohn's patient's life. This blog post aims to clear that up.

Phobias

Most people I know have one or more of the following phobias:

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