Monday, August 13, 2012

Because I Know What Love Is...

Okay, to begin with, I’m fine. For those of you who saw my status and went into a blind panic arranging walks and car washes, (Madison) thank you, but you can stop reading and go find more pressing and more deserving causes. For the rest of you, I want to tell you a story.
It’s a love story.
And a medical drama.
Kind of like Grey’s Anatomy but without the voice over and the doctors having sex in the store room.
This goes back a while. For those of you who don’t know me intimately, I’ve always been a picky eater. Not like a five year old who won’t try anything unless it’s been slathered in catsup, but more like I can look at a menu item and tell if it’s going to make me sick. Sometimes everything sounds good, sometimes nothing sounds good. Either way I can pretty much tell what’s going to make me happy and what will make me friends with the toilet. But sometimes I’m wrong and sometimes I’m stupid and I ignore my intuition in favor of pizza and ice cream.
After a while I realized that while being a picky eater was pretty normal, the lengths to which my body seemed to dislike any food in general was not normal. My family and my boyfriend encouraged me to go to my doctor, which I did. After three failed diets and the gamut of liver/blood/kidney tests, I was loosely diagnosed with stress induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
IBS is actually fairly common. There isn’t a lot that can be done for it. For more severe cases it can be managed with medication, but for milder cases like mine, one simply adjusts their diet accordingly.
So no big deal, right? And for the next few years it was perfectly manageable. Now we fast forward to two years after the diagnosis to about four or five months ago.
Late March to early April I was under a lot of stress. I was working two jobs, student teaching, taking classes, preparing to graduate, dealing with a myriad of personal issues and some family stuff on the side; so my stress induced IBS was in full swing. Then I started to notice new symptoms: mild joint pain I dismissed with too much fun at the gym or standing on my feet all day. The headaches were from doing lesson plans and studying into the dead of night. The nausea was simply my IBS coupled with a lack of healthy food options at my school.
But when certain things started coming out the other end; things that should never come out down there, I realized that they couldn’t be ignored.
(For those of you who want to be spared the details, skip ahead to the end. But you’ll miss the best part; this is a love story after all.)
Blood. At first it was just a little. But pretty soon there was a lot of it. A lot more than anyone should ever see in a toilet bowl. What’s worse is that I wasn’t eating much, working fifty hours or more and loosing blood at an alarming rate. I kept hoping that it would stop, heal, go away, whatever, but after two or three weeks I knew it was time to talk to someone.
Let me be clear that the idea of talking about bodily functions with anyone with whom you are romantically involved  is mortifying. Talking about blood in your stool is pretty much off limits. Every disease comes with a stigma and like my father’s prostate cancer, my disease has to do with a part of my body that rarely sees the sun let alone gets discussed with civility.
But I knew I had to tell him, so I sucked it up and told Taylor about my poo.
He wasn’t grossed out. He didn’t dump me for a more civilized, healthier woman. He wasn’t hysterical and panicky. In fact, he was just Taylor. He held me and kissed me and told me it was probably nothing, but that we should see my doctor again.
For some reason, talking to your doctor about what comes out of your butt is actually much easier than talking to it with anyone else. This is probably because doctors are just supposed to nod and then tell you what to do to fix it. I went back to my doctor and was prescribed another plethora of tests, including a stool test. For those of you who thought a stool test is as simple as taking a dump in a cup, you’re wrong. In reality it is much more complicated and much more humiliating.
And when I came home and complained about the stool test to Taylor, he cheered me up with the “Check the Poo” song from Scrubs.
There’s only so much that a general doctor can do. So when the tests came back inconclusive, I was sent to a specialist. Gastroenterology is the doctoring of the digestive tract. We call them GI doctors (because Butt Doctor is probably no PC.) I went to the hospital to have a talk with my GI.
I was prescribed a colonoscopy. These procedures are usually reserved for people in their forties, in particular men in their forties. For example my doctor has a poster in his office that reads “If seventy five is the goal, at forty five check the hole.”
I was a twenty three year old woman getting a test common for men twice my age.
To make matters worse, they only offer this procedure at two times of the day: Ungodly early and even more ungodly early. More so, I couldn’t drive myself because I would be under anesthesia. Both my parents work, so they would be no help. But along came my super awesome boyfriend who offered to wake up and drive me on my day off.
And no matter how many times I apologized, Taylor just told me that it was his job to take care of me.
No matter what.
The day before the procedure, you can’t eat anything other than popsicles and chicken broth (and Jell-o, but none of the good flavors.) Worse yet, you have to drink this god awful bowel cleanser which tastes like someone ground up a bunch of grape sweet tarts and then pissed in it. And you can’t chug it, you have to savor that crap.
Once you drink the stuff, it starts to work. It’s a bowel cleanser, so it does exactly what you would expect it to do. I spent most of the night in the bathroom, exhausted and disgusted with myself. But every time I came out, Taylor was there to wrap me in his arms and kiss all my fears away.
You drink the bowel cleanser twice. Once the night before and once four hours before the procedure. So I was up at oh-dark-thirty to spend a few more hours in the bathroom. This was coupled with waking up to the news of the Century 16 shooting, so my nausea was also personal in nature. So while the rest of the country woke up to tragedy and shock, I was sitting with my boyfriend in a doctor’s office, waiting to have a scope shoved up my butt.
Taylor stayed the whole time. He never left. And when I came out, he cuddled me and kissed me and told me I was beautiful and that he loved me. He didn’t even make fun of me (much) when I kept flirting with my elderly nurse and tried to get her to tell me where she got her awesome scrubs. After all that he took me home to sleep off my drug induced haze.
It takes a few weeks for the biopsies to come back, but in the meantime was prescribed a suppository (if you don’t know what it is, look it up.) The medicine helped relieve the initial symptoms, but it came with a long range of side effects: Nausea, sore throat, stomach cramps…and my favorite, flatulence.
Oh yeah, lots of farting. This of course made the idea of going out in public pretty mortifying, but I worried that this might be the last straw for Taylor. I mean, I’m not the sort of girl who is too suave to fart in front of her boyfriend, but there’s a pretty big difference between the little gas giggle and a full blown trumpet every few minutes.
You of course know by this point in the story that I had no reason to worry.
Taylor did what he always does: loves me. And even though I feel about as sexy as a wood pecker, he takes good care of me, telling me that I’m beautiful and that he loves me.
And he didn’t even freak out when the test came back that I had Chrone’s Disease.
 For those of you who don’t know, Chrones is an autoimmune disorder. Long story short, my stomach and my intestines hate each other and send out little antibodies like war planes to cause the other one pain. For my geek friends: my coding is whack.
The disease is perfectly manageable. And even though it doesn’t exist yet, I will probably see a cure in my lifetime. In the meantime, I get to start a long regiment of medications, more tests and more dealing with my insurance. Mostly I get to take shots like a diabetic (not like an alcoholic) only I have to put the little gun in my thigh. Taylor and Madison see this as a reasonable excuse for me to wear miniskirts as often as possible. I have to agree. (I have fabulous legs.)
So tomorrow Taylor has to once again wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to take me to get X-rays. It probably won’t be the last time either. I’ll be dealing with this disease for the rest of my life. Or should I said, we’ll be living with it for the rest of our lives.
(Those of you who skipped the details can reenter our story here.)
Taylor is the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with. If I or anyone else ever had doubts of his love for me, this story erases them. He is without a doubt the greatest boyfriend in the history of boyfriends.
For better or for worse.
In sickness and in health.
I know Taylor will love me no matter how much my insides hate me, no matter how picky I eat and no matter how much I fart.
And that is true love. 

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