The thing about having a chronic medical condition is you can’t always guarantee that you’ll keep it in check. That is an issue I recently had. My colitis decided it had had enough of lying dormant and it wasn’t digging its daily dose of drugs. It wasn’t enough for the colitis to rebel against me, it decided to get the liver involved. All of this was causing huge problems, mostly a good dose of light headedness, which is fun at first, like some wonderful drug trip. Then it started affecting my day to day.
I took all this information to my doctor, he couldn’t quite pin down what the problem was, but had some ideas. First idea was to have an ultrasound of my liver, and see what’s going on there. Then follow that up with another colonoscopy. My second one and I’m only 31 years old.
Well, my understanding of ultrasounds was they’re used to look at fetuses. Not having knocked anyone up, all my knowledge of this came from television and movies. I never thought they used it for anything else. Looking back I realize this was stupid. Obviously this technology could be used for more than looking at unborn babies.
Clearly this was a new experience for me. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything eight hours before the procedure and with an appointment in the morning this wasn’t really a problem, or so I thought. Turns out I love a glass of water first thing in the morning, and I tend to lap some up in the shower, unless this is a weird thing to admit in which case I don’t do that. But I have will power, so I got over it. I still wasn’t sure what to expect, and still sort of assumed I would be in an elevated seat, maybe with my feet in stirrups, looking at some weird monitor while the doctor pointed out things.
It was not like that at all. I was on a bed at a normal chair level. It was a little awkward. I was told to lay down and pull my shirt up, while the doctor, or the ultrasoundologist (I’m sorry, I’m not sure what the proper term is for this lady), dimmed the lights, all while there was some new-age Enya-esq music playing. The goo and the ultrasound wand were both warmer than I expected, and the process involved a lot of deep breathes. After the initial awkwardness, it turned out to be fairly relaxing. I forgot there might be something wrong with my liver and was on the verge of sleeping.
When we finished, the ultrasoundologist told me to towel off and that the radiologist would read the results and pass it on to my doctor. So it would be a few days before I knew anything. Swell. Despite having to wait for results, I was starting to feel better about things.
But that was temporary as the task I had following the ultrasound was to get my colonoscopy prep kit. Granted this is the simplest part of the whole colonoscopy, but it’s the first reminder of what’s to come. This was Friday and the colonoscopy was Tuesday, so I was able to put the supplies aside and distract myself for a few days.
Monday morning came around and I started to dread what I had to do that evening. It technically starts that morning as I have to go on not only a liquid diet, but a clear liquid diet. I drove to work weak, angry, and anxious. I found Strung Out’s “American Paradox” to be very helpful in calming me down. I really can’t say enough good things about Strung Out. There has never been a time in my life that hasn’t been improved when I put on some Strung Out.
My boss, who has been fully aware of my situation, could see that I was in bad shape this day and sent me home. This was nice as it allowed me to nap before I had to submit myself to the colon clearing cocktail that evening. The nap helped, as did watching some Demolition Man.
Then something happened as I was watching John Spartan hunt down Simon Phoenix, my doctor called. The ultrasound didn’t show any major problem with my liver, or other organs. I mean he said the liver is a little fatty, but nothing to be concerned about. However, this doesn’t explain the blood test results, so let’s still be a bit worried about the liver.
When the doctor first expressed concern about my liver and ordered the ultrasound, I did what I assume most people would do and run through every possible problem the liver could have. I never thought much about these problems, but they definitely crossed my mind. They were probably a bit deeper than I realized because the wash of relief I felt flow through my body when my doctor said it wasn’t cancer was amazing. He just casually mentioned it too and it was a surprisingly huge weight off my shoulders.
Since the ultrasound showed nothing but the blood tests did the doctor then thought the liver problem might have something to do with a liver issue that often arises with those who have ulcerative colitis. Or it could be a side result of the drug I have been taking for the last seven years. Either way he thought the best idea would be to get me into a clinical study for a different drug, if I was game.
He didn’t give me much information about the clinical study, but he did tell me the study would require me to have a colonoscopy, the cost of which would be covered by the clinical study group. As such he wasn’t going to put my though an extra one. So the one for the next day was canceled. Even though I would eventually have to do one, it was nice to know it wasn’t the next day. I was also happy the doctor called before I started cocktail.
The next day I would get an initial call about the clinical study. It is a 58 week study, I plan on writing about the experience as I go along. I’m not completely sure what to expect, nor did I ever think this is where life would take me, but that’s part of fun, right? So if you have ever wondered what it’s like to be part of a clinical study, or if you hope to see me suffer some more, check back as I chronicle my experience with this. I’ll do my best to keep the grosser stuff minimized.