Monday, December 17, 2007

 

In Which This Too Shall Pass (which is a worse pun than you might think, once you finish reading this)...


What? Mid-December, already?

I know, I know, it's awful isn't it? Before I was chiding myself for maybe publishing one post a week, now it seems like one a month is the norm. I've come a realization about myself and it's this: I only like to post about my life when I have something funny to say, or when I have something awful to say, but something awful that be made to sound funny. And just lately I'm going through something that I'm having a hard time making sound funny.

Her Lovely Self is sick.

I've never written about this on the blog, which is an odd thing, because at this point there are very few depths of my life that have gone unplumbed here, so you'd think I'd have talked about this before. Yet I'm sure this uncharacteristic restraint is out of respect for my wife, who is already mortified enough about the things I write.

The long and short of it is that Her Lovely Self has a rather unlovely and chronic disease whose side effects are so painful and awful that I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemies (with perhaps one exception. No, two). My wife has Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that has plagued her since she was in her early 20s. It's a condition marked by periods of flare-ups and remission, and I have to say that she has been in a flare-up period for months now.

No one's really sure what causes Crohn's, but it's considered an auto-immune disorder, for whatever that's worth. All I know is that when she's in a flare-up, my wife's in a lot of pain and discomfort, dealing with pretty much every unfortunate gastrointestinal side effect you can think of, plus others, such as intestinal obstruction and pernicious anemia, which weakens and fatigue her. Most recently, we've discovered that she has developed as many as three tunneling fistulae. The disease is not just inflammatory but corrosive, you see. During a flare-up, the disease can burrow passageways between different loops of intestine--Her Lovely Self has a fairly large one that effectively bypasses a substantial portion of her small intestine and leaves her prone to all sorts of nasty infections--and sometimes even connect your digestive tract with parts of your body it was never intended to interact with, such as vital organs, nerve clusters and, in the case of my wife, her uterus.

You'd think surgery would be in order, but for some reason, with Crohn's sufferers, surgery has a way of making the disease even worse. Cut out diseased section of bowel and the disease will sprout up, Hydra-like, in adjacent loops, and removing or closing off the fistulae that form has been shown to be terribly successful. A new class of drugs has been approved to deal with inflammation and even some kinds of fistulae, but it's hard-core stuff, delivered by IV every few weeks, and something that you have to stay on more or less forever, or until you suffer an allergic reaction to the stuff, which is all too common, and sometimes even fatal. And even then, the stuff has an efficacy rate somewhere in the 30-percentile range, and even less in terms of healing the deep internal fistulae, such as the big one HLS has high up in her digestive tract.

So even as my wife has had to deal with all manner of painful and undignified problems, she's also been tired and weak, and I think it must said, in a growing and unassailable sense of despair. Soon--not next week or next month, but soon--she'll have to decide whether or not to have surgery to try to ease some of her symptoms or to go on the IV meds. Neither one is appealing to her, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that my wife is the kind of person who likes to feel in control of her life, her health, and over the past several weeks we've been getting a crash course in understanding that there's very little about this disease that she can control. At the urging of friends, she has pursued some alternative therapies and taken heroic measures to alter her diet. We've always tried to eat relatively healthy foods, but in the past few months we've made a more drastic switch to organic foods (processed foods seem to cause much more damage to her compromised digestive tract) and added a variety of supplements to our diet (including omega-3 rich fish oil and all manner of herbal and mineral capsules designed either to heal from within or supplement her body's diminished capacity to absorb nutrition). Still, when your body has gone haywire to the extent that it's building brand-new unauthorized ersatz intestinal tract, winding every which-a-way through your abdomen like a drunk on a bulldozer, it's hard to feel like you have any control. Of anything. At all.

So things have been a little somber and even sometimes actually grim here at the Magazine Mansion, and when life is like that, I just kind of hunker down and reserve my good humor for the people nearby who seem to really need it. If that sounds selfish and neglectful of you, my friends, well, I apologize. But I also expect you to understand.

"What we really need in our lives," my wife said last night, as she was reading organic cookbooks and a sheaf of medical reports about Crohn's research, "is someone who's even more fucked up than we are. That would put my problems into perspective, you know?" And she's right, of course.

But more than that, she's going to get her wish.

Because in 48 hours, my big brother will be here to spend Christmas with us.

Which also means that the long drought of having anything funny to write about should be coming to an abrupt end.

Stay tuned.


Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead


Comments:
Glad to see you back, MM, but very sorry to hear about HLS's illness getting worse. I hope that whatever therapy you choose it's wildly successful and the disease goes into inactive status for a long time.
 
Oh that sucks! I have a friend who has that and it is a terrible disease.
 
I know ppl with Crohn's too and I'm very sorry HLS has it too. I have inflammatory bowel syndrome myself. It's nothing compared to Crohns, but it does give ma a faint feeling of what it might be like.

We might be able give you competition in the fucked up life dept, but I'd rather not get into that.

I was hoping BB wouldn't be alone in your parent's former home at Christmas, and I'm glad he's going to be with you.
 
Dear his lovely self, I'm really sorry to hear about her lovely self's misfortune. I didn't know that she was old enough to have a Crone's disease.

( sorry, I have to afflict that pun on everyone I know with Crohn's disease. It usually puts a smile on their face and with a reinforcement like that, I can't help myself.)

--- Mr. Gator (yes, really o truly o partner of Little gator or at least until she tells me to get me to a punnery)
 
Of course we understand. And as you can see, regardless of when you decide to return after a posting hiatus, you will always have your audience.

Best wishes to you, HLS, BB, and everyone.
 
Really sorry to hear that. My best wishes to your wife.
 
The best man in our wedding has Crohn's and just had a hospital stay due to a flare up that had been lasting far too long. I hope that this flare up of HLS passes soon and you are able to enjoy the holidays. Best wishes to you and yours on a better new year.
 
MM,
I will certainly be saying prayers for HLS. I'll pray that she will be able to chose the best answer about surgery. I'm sorry she is suffering with this disease. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy new year! I will patiently and anxiously await stories of Christmas with BB.
 
Hi MM,

Please pass along my best wishes to HLS. Crohn's is related to Arthritis in that it's an autoimmune disease so in a way, we are experiencing something similar. Her tummy, my joints. I was hoping that pregnancy would bring about remission, but not so far. Pregnancy can cause a flare later on of my disease - perhaps this is what happened to HLS?

My brother-in-law has a bad case of Crohn's and he has found that a course of prednisone has helped him dramatically. It is a short course, she'd have to go on and taper off, am wondering if it is anything she has heard about or considered? It's much less dangerous than those other meds you mention, which are also prescribed for Arthritis.

Write to me if you'd like more info, and my love to you and yours...

Straight Poop, who is by the by, 15 weeks prego!!
 
My beloved father in law has struggled with Crohn's for decades. He was even president of the Tacoma chapter of the Crohn's Society. He also has many, many problems with fistulae and with the IV drugs. He's had some surgeries and they have actually gone very, very well.

We went through a harrowing fall here when my oldest son started showing signs of Crohn's. Fortunately he doesn't have Crohn's. Unfortunately, we don't know what he has...

At any rate, I'm sending a lot of positive thoughts and energy to you all. Crohn's is so hard to deal with and I have a very good idea of how HLS is feeling. I'm hoping the drugs or the surgery will give her some relief.
 
Oh wow, MM. I'm so, so sorry about HLS's misery. I wish her a quick recovery, whichever route she decides to follow for treatment.
I'm glad to hear that BB's coming to spend the holiday with you, though not just for the blog fodder. Seems like it could be good for all. I hope you and all the kiddos are hanging in there.
 
I'm so sorry for your family and especially for HLS. Things like this really can suck the funny out of a person. I've been dealing with an issue with a member of my family that has kind of been blocking my funny as well, and it is hard to balance their privacy with the need to process and share.

I really hope HLS finds a course of action that works for her. In the mean time, keep eating the whole foods that she's making with a smile on your face and tell her it's great! It's really hard to make a new recipe and see rejection all around the table.

Sending you all positive thoughts...
 
I'm so sorry that HLS is having such a rough time with Crohn's right now; that has to be hard on all of you. I have ulcerative colitis and my mother has Crohn's, and Mom's disease has responded very well to remicade infusions. Mom hasn't mentioned any side effects to the remicade, and she's not one to keep that sort of thing secret. I hope HLS goes into a long remission very, very soon.
 
I've been checking your blog every day hoping to see something new, but this is definitely not what I was hoping to read. So sorry about HLS - I hope things settle down so she can enjoy the holidays - and BB's visit.

And of course we understand. Even if you only write once a month we'll still be here waiting.

Sending prayers your way...
 
Oh, how awful for her! :( I'm so sorry to hear about this.
Has she been tested for Celiac Disease? My kids just tested positive for it, so its my latest cause, but one of the "symptoms" often listed for it is Crone's. Wishing her well...
 
Hi. I'm delurking to suggest that you guys check out "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by Elaine Gottschall. Or you can do a search on specific carbohydrate diet. It has helped a lot of people.

Warm wishes to you and your family.
 
Oh poor HLS - one of my best friends has Crohns and it controls so much of his life. I hope that things settle down for her (and you all) soon.

And what an appalling pun for a post title.

I'm glad BB is coming for Christmas - I hoped he wouldn't be alone.
 
That's awful for her. I hope things get better soon. I'm glad your brother is coming for Christmas. I've been worried about him since, well you know.
 
I know someone that is using Remicade successfully for treatment of his Crohn's disease.

DLS, I pray that you go into remission and stay there.
 
Oh boy, I've only ever heard how crappy (no pun intended) Crohn's is. No fun at all. But nothing like a visit from BB to lighten the mood at the magazine mansion :) Best wishes for a happy holiday, and may a clear answer for that decision about surgery or drugs or whatever come your way soon.
 
Sending best wishes and hopes for a swift and miraculous recovery.

I'm hoping you all make it through the holidays fairly unscathed. This first one is going to be a rough one.
 
I wish BB's blood was the cure for Crohn's disease.

Not only would he save the day, but naturally, a funny anecdote would follow.

Good luck with everything!
 
hoping today is a good day for HLS. Crohns is a horrible disease.
 
MM,

Hugs. There is no way to express the kind of pain she is going through. Take care of her.

Prayers going your way.
 
MM:

What can I say other than that you and yours are always in my prayers?

Well, I suppose I can say that a visit from BB is sure to result in some wonderful posts, so I'll be looking forward to those with great relish.

(Or mustard.)

Keep a smile on HLS's face. Laughter is a great curative for many maladies, even if only the short term.
 
I'm so sorry to hear about HLS's illness. She's lucky to have you there with her, though. I too am glad that BB won't be spending the holiday alone in the house... maybe having him around will be a nice break for the family. You guys will be in my prayers.
 
MM - I went through 2 years of tests, more tests, drugs and more drugs b/c that is what the GI thought was wrong with me. It turned out to be severe fibromyalgia instead (which I am thankful for), but I am so sorry that HLS and the rest of you have to go through all that. I wish I could wiggle my nose and make it better. She should be proud of the fact that she's dealing with it and still being a great mom rather than be embarrassed.
 
Glad to hear from you again...but so sorry to hear about HLS's illness.
 
MM Welcome back. I hope that things improve with Crohns. My youngest sister suffers from it and was diagnosed when she was in her late teens.

I will keep you all in my prayers that BBs visit provides the perspective HLS needs :)

Oh, and congrats to thestraightpoop on her impending little poop. :)
 
I am so sorry to hear of HLS disease and discomfort, MM.

Have you looked into "The Maker's Diet" by Jordan Rubin?

A
 
Please know that my heart goes out to HLS. That disease is a big meanie. I will send up good thoughts and plead for good health~
 
Crohn's is a miserable disease. Sorry to hear HLS has it. My grandmother takes Carafate for her flareups- it usually helps at least a bit. If HLS doesn't, you might look into it.
 
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