Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Now I know.

I saw the GI doctor again last week. I had spent the prior Sunday in the ER with awful belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Whilst going gluten-free had helped, I was clearly still having problems.

She reviewed my test results (biopsy results and blood tests from the ER) and, after examining me, concluded that I'm gluten intolerant, and that I have Crohn's disease.

It all makes sense. The renal damage, the dramatic weight loss (I'm 120lbs now)the aching joints that come and go, the fissure in my natal crease that sporadically opens up, the "ulcer" that never responded to treatment but seemed to wax and wane ....everything that I've been dealing with for years all comes together in a single diagnosis.

I had wondered if I had Crohn's a while ago. I'd been trying to NOT make all my symptoms fit; I didn't want to be the kind of patient that reads about symptoms on the internet and erroneously diagnoses themselves. I had a feeling that it was more than Celiac disease, though.

So, I have a diagnosis at last. The good news is that it can be controlled. There are lots of medications available to put Crohn's into remission; I started taking one last night and have to go back in 2 weeks to report on how it's working for me. I'm learning about signs that a flare is coming on, and I'm also learning to mitigate my stress levels (stress doesn't help Crohn's disease and can sometimes lead to a flare).

The not-so good news is that I doubt I'll be able to go back into medicine (emergent or otherwise) again. It's quite a blow, to be honest; I'd always envisioned myself in EMS or nursing for the rest of my working life and now that doesn't look like it will happen. I'm having to reassess and think about where I want to go and what I want to do. I've enrolled in part-time classes this fall and am continuing my degree with an emphasis on sign language interpretership. I took a semester and a half of it some years ago and really enjoyed it (did well, too), so I'm looking to build on that. I can still use my medical knowledge (hospitals use ASL interpreters for their translator banks), but the stress levels will be much lower.

I'm just grateful and relieved that we've finally figured out what's wrong with me. I was starting to get worried that we'd never know - and I'd also started to doubt the validity of my symptoms. My husband and kids said that they were wondering whether I was really feeling as ill as I said that I was; if I wasn't embellishing a little to get attention. Now we have this definite diagnosis, I can leave the limbo I've been living in behind me and get on with life again.

Life is going to be good!


MedicMatthew said...

Well, I'm glad that you finally have a diagnosis.
I know a handful of EMT's & Firefighters & nurses with Crohn's. Just sayin....

michael said...

out of curiosity have you ever been on acutaine? I just recently found out that my ibs may have been caused by acutaine.

Ninjamedic said...

Matt: I think that knowing what's wrong is a huge step forwards. As for nursing/EMS...yeah, I don't think it's going to be a good idea for me to try.

Michael: No, I never took Accutane. Mine's probably genetic in nature.