At some point in April of this year, I began to have the first symptom of a flare – blood in my stools. As in the past, because I am optimistic/unrealistic, I ignored this sign for the rest of the month, hoping the blood would go away. By the time final exams came along, I had started to not feel well and was still bleeding. I got through the exams alright and started prednisone, but unlike in the past, the prednisone didn’t help, and I continued to get worse. Panic mode! But then I tested positive for C. diff, a bacteria I had had before that inflames the colon, and this was good news because my doctor suspected that the C. diff was the root of the flare, and after a round of antibiotics, I’d begin to feel better. Phew! But the antibiotics did not make me feel better. Whether or not the C. diff caused the flare, getting rid of it was not going to stop the flare.
Summer classes began, and I physically couldn’t go to them. I was in discomfort and was using the bathroom frequently, especially in the mornings (and mornings are still the worst time of day for me). I stuck to eating chicken broth with white rice in it, and yogurt, and I didn’t eat often. This was all too much to handle, so I called my parents to bring me the few blocks over to Children’s Hospital to be admitted. (It’s times like these I’m really happy I didn’t choose to go to school in Oregon.) Of course, one must go to the emergency room to be admitted, and it took about 6 hours to finally get a bed, but at least I was there, and I expected to be better in a matter of days. I emailed my professors to let them know I’d catch up, but eventually, I found myself emailing them to say I’d catch them another semester.
For almost a whole week in the hospital, I saw no improvement. I was on IV steroids, fluids, and the antibiotic for C. diff, and the C. diff went away, but I was still just as sick. My appetite was still low, too, and they had me drink Ensures, which have the nutrition and calories I needed in drink form. On the sixth day, I got a colonoscopy, which showed just how severe this flare was; my doctor actually said he was surprised that my colon was so ulcerated. This was not surprising to me, however, considering how I had been feeling all this time!
The day after the colonoscopy, I began a new (to me) drug called Remicade, which is given through an IV. Typically, the second infusion is administered two weeks after the first, and then once a month after that. I improved with my first dose, but not to the extent that we were hoping, and so my second dose I received only a week and three days after the first. In the days between these doses, I was feeling better than I had during my first week in the hospital, but I was still generally in discomfort, had a small appetite, was using the bathroom often, etc. With the hope that the second dose of Remicade would do the trick, and considering the IV version of my medications weren’t helping any more than the oral ones were, they finally sent me home the day after I received the second dose.
Home! After being in the hospital for two and a half weeks! Time to start healing.