Editor’s note: there is going to be lots of chatter about bowl movements and blood in this post. You’re also going to learn a lot more about my medical history than you were expecting. But I want it to be clear why we’ve had the level of content around here that we have, and what you can expect going forward. You’ve been warned.
In December of 2018, I started to notice a little bit of blood in the toilet after my bowel movements. It wasn’t in every movement, and it wasn’t a lot…at first. Now I just thought this was part of my IBS (more on that later) and that if I increased the amount of fiber I was consuming it would go away; and it seemed to. The more fiber I took the less visible blood there was, but that depended on me actually remembering to get both sets of fiber capsules in the day.
If I missed my morning dose, or my evening dose, there was still blood. And as we ticked into the new year, then February, then March, and then April; every day I forgot to take both of my fiber doses there was blood…more, and more blood.
But I just assumed that was part of the IBS I was told I probably had back in 2014; and that the fiber was helping when I remembered to take all of it.
In the summer of 2014, when I was still a college student and working on this blog, I was working at Taco Time when my manager noticed that I was spending a lot of time in the restroom. She pulled aside into the office and advised me that she noticed there were days where I’d hardly go to the bathroom; but then there would be days where I would spend 15 to 20 minutes in the bathroom at time and frequently going back to the facilities. This caught her attention because she’d noticed this habit with someone they knew who was later diagnosed with an IBD…a lot of the symptoms that person experiences sounded very familiar to me.
I called my doctor after my shift was over to schedule an appointment…three days later he was referring me to the GI department at the Everett Clinic and I was into see the GI doctor within a week of that conversation with my boss.
The appointment with the GI doc was pretty straight forward. I described my symptoms to him and that I had had a conversation with my manager at work about it. I remember him asking me I there was any blood in my stools at the time (there wasn’t any visible blood) and if I was bloating. When I told him I was bloating at the time he asked if he could check, he pushed around my upper abdomen and stomach area before looking at me; “This definitely could be chrones, or it could be IBS. I want to do a colonoscopy to check.”
I left the clinic and scheduled the appointment for the colonoscopy, unfortunate the closest appointment they had was three weeks out. But schedule it for that date I did.
Now the trick with getting a solid diagnosis with a colonoscopy is that you have to be experiencing the symptoms of the issue when you get the actual exam. Otherwise it can be damn well near impossible for the doctor to get a good picture of what’s affecting you.
When I graduated school in 2015, I felt that I’d be able to dedicate more time to writing this blog without the extra duties at KUGR…but the rest of life got in the way outside of my full time job; chores, friends, family, etc. And it was okay to balance when I wasn’t taking taking fiber, even if I did have more cramping and IBS symptoms; but when I’d take my fiber those same symptoms got worse…while some of the other IBS stuff improved.
So I inconsistently (admittedly) took fiber and there was improvement when I consistently take my fiber. But, looking back on it, things never seemed to gel with IBS and a need for more fiber in my diet. There was overwhelming fatigue; an increase in with my anxiety; and a dramatic increase in my attention issues that seemed to happen at the same time while also bordering on overwhelming; this was especially worse when I was taking my fiber. In college, this meant trying to spend less time on some of my extra curricular activities and this meant this blog suffered so I could focus on college as well as my duties on the KUGR board of directors.
I don’t remember when I realized that the symptoms of the flare-up had passed in 2014…but I just remember thinking as I was getting ready for my colonoscopy that I was out of it. This was confirmed when they didn’t see anything and I was told to increase my fiber intake to help manage my symptoms.
Moving out of my parents house only made the issues of balancing the fiber induced fatigue, anxiety, and attention issues worse because all of the chores were my responsibility now (especially since I really, really suck at asking for help)…and the content on this site became even more inconsistent. Then December, 2018 rolled around and the blood started.
So now we’re up to April, 2018 where the blood has slowly been getting worse when I don’t take both doses of fiber. Then I got a sinus infection at the same time as a couple of my coworkers in the office; they were bouncing back quicker than I was and I didn’t completely understand it at the time; so I made the decision to go to the walk-in clinic. And they put me on a rather strong antibiotic to prevent the sinus infection from turning into pneumonia.
It was an antibiotic I’d never been on before, and it turns out that I’m actually allergic too. Immediately it made my sinus infection and bowels issues far worse…no matter how much fiber or vitamin C I took. In fact, I got tothe point where getting out of bed to refill my water was too much to ask within a week of me starting the antibiotic. This meant it was time to do a couple of things:
- Go back to the clinic to get a new antibiotic; they also put three bags of IV fluid in me because I was so dehydrated.
- I needed to go back to my parents because it was clear I could no longer take care of myself.
This began the adventure of endless doctors appointments, blood draws, and test. All of this led to me ending up with a rush colonoscopy to see what was going on down there. And, after nearly five years of me being stubborn, we finally got a firm answer as to what was going on.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
So what is Ulcerative Colitis? From WebMD:
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes irritation, inflammation, and ulcers in the lining of your large intestine, or colon.–WebMD
UC is different from other diseases with similar symptoms, like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. There’s no cure, and people usually have symptom flare-ups off and on for life. But the right treatments can help you keep a handle on the disease.”
So what’s up in the future?
Right now, while we’re searching for the meds to help me manage this, I’m still working full time and battling the overwhelming fatigue. It’s still really hard to stay on top of the chores and I’m taking frequent naps…but this blog is honestly my lowest priority while I’m getting my health sorted out.
Despite this being my lowest priortiy, I make this promise to you guys. I’m going to do my best to get articles out regularly (and I’m not talking about the quick hitter twitter highlight post, I’m talking about analysis). I can’t promise you a set date or time for these post…but I’m going to set aside time and get them out more regularly because you guys deserve it for your support.
I’m also looking to relaunch the edited podcast within the next month and I’m hoping to do that at least twice a month. Again, I can’t promise specific days of the weeks for the recording and posting…but I’m going to do my best to get back in the grove while I’m sorting out the medical issues. Thank you for continuing to read the site and check on it, we really appreciate your support.
I do want to take a moment to thank Brett Miller for continuing to share his BS podcast on the blog when they record. It’s a good listen on your morning commute and I highly recommend it.
For the rest of the Sports with Neil and friends team, thanks for toughing it out with me. We’ll get this sucker turned around.
Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.