July has been a slow month which has raced by so very quickly. Where is the summer going?
The heat has certainly been oppressive too Knowing that heat affects me negatively, I have been enjoying the great air-conditioned indoors. How about you?
But heat is not the only thing which affects my MS negatively. Infection does as well. Last Tuesday, I began feeling unusually fatigued and wrote the following tweet:
I was concerned that the MS relapse which never fully developed in June might be finally making an appearance. Not a happy thought.
Wednesday, I was fatigued and had many music lessons to teach. During my brief 30-minute supper break, I noted that my belly just didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel constipated, but maybe it could be so. I wondered if I were developing a bladder infection, what with the increased symptoms, but was sure that THIS felt different.
I was perplexed but definitely didn’t feel "normal" in the least. Just in case, I took a laxative to see if that might give me some relief.
Thursday, I felt somewhat worse. My belly was tender to the touch and I slept much of the afternoon (which didn’t seem so odd since I had been up during the night several times). Those around me suggested that I call the doctor if it got any worse.
Friday morning, I still had tenderness with some definite areas of pain upon palpitation. I called my doctor at 10am and she saw me at 11am. Turns out I did not have a bladder infection. But I obviously had something going on.
The location of my distinct "ouch" indicated three possibilities:
a) appendicitis (immediate action needed)
b) ovarian cyst (usually goes away on its own)
c) functional digestive issue (something to deal with as needed)
By 1pm, I was at the imaging center drinking orange juice spiked with barium. At 3pm, I was getting hooked up with an IV to administer a contrast agent during scanning and then was waiting for a CT room to open up. At 3:20pm after the scans were done, I was asked to wait a few minutes while the radiologist looked at the images. If it were an appendicitis, they were not going to let me go home.
Just as the CT technician was telling me that I did not have an appendicitis, the radiologist was calling my doctor to tell her the same. Lots of inflammation was found in the colon, I was told. My first thought was, "Crap, please don’t tell me that I’m developing yet another autoimmune disease."
Before I left the imaging center less than five minutes later (with a disc of my scans in hand), my doctor was calling me to tell me that I had a case of diverticulitis and that fortunately there were no abscesses or ruptures. Good news. The recommended prescription would be two different antibiotics. Since I take powerful immune suppressors (ie. methotrexate and Rituxan), my doctor wanted to be extra cautious in attacking any infection.
So I didn’t have a bladder infection, but I did have an infection. My MS body was letting me know that something was going on last week and fortunately I listened. If I had waited until the pain was unbearable, it would have been much worse.
In a way, MS was my early warning system. Secret benefit of having a disease which is sensitive to illness? Maybe.
This weekend I have been sleeping A LOT and the meds are doing their job. I am so glad that this round of diverticulitis did not progress to the examples I’ve heard about from others. I’m still fatigued, but expect to feel better soon. This and MS can’t keep me done too long, I have things to do and places to go this month.
Hope you are taking care of yourselves. Keep cool, enjoy the summer, and continue to stay healthy.
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.