Never again!

Well it seems I doom myself if I make bold statements on my blog about how I am doing health-wise. After my positive statements yesterday, I went on to have a huge anxiety attack and I slept until 2 pm today. Plus, just to add insult to injury, I have been running to the bathroom all day today.

Since I developed a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)[1] a couple of years ago, I had already had a taste of not having control over my body. Six years of the ravages of ulcerative colitis the anxiety disorder arrived. Once might wonder what it is specifically about ulcerative colitis that would cause one’s anxiety to run out of control.

The obvious first thing is the unknowing of when you will be hit with the need for a bathroom. In the early days this would come on all of a sudden. I would be literally sweating and crying as I drove to try to get to a bathroom. At its worst, ulcerative colitis had me going to the bathroom upward of 20 times per day with great urgency. The place I worked at the time was laid out in a circle. The place I sat was all the way at the back. When the urge struck I did not have much time to make it there. It was incredibly stressful. My hour-long commute was something I constantly dreaded, as I never knew if I would make it to the office. I had to stop eating breakfast because any food in my system would stimulate my colon. Even though I would be going to the bathroom many times a day I was completely constipated.[2] Instead of passing stool, I was passing large amounts of blood and mucous. Every day, I grew weaker as I lost more and more blood. This constant blood loss landed me in the hospital in January 2008.

After being hospitalized, I then had the anxiety of not ever wanting to be that sick again. Once the bleeding was under control, I would move between constipation and diarrhea. Mostly constipation though was the order of the day. I also began to develop severe pain. The debilitating, chronic pain put me very much on edge and contributed to the anxiety. My doctor then put me on an anti-depressant to help with the anxiety. Once the pain was being treated with morphine on a daily basis things did get a little better on the anxiety front – enough so that I could go off the anti-depressant. Sadly that did not last long and I have been on another one for over a year. My doctor keeps hoping my pain levels will go down, as do I. However, I have yet to see that happen. There are days I require less morphine and I take less. It is a funny thing; I never think to take it unless I am an agony. Even then sometimes I will try to wait it out. It is probably not a good thing for my GAD.

The heat of summer also makes things worse. I am not sure why but it seems to be a feature for most people who have an autoimmune disease. When it is hot outside and I am overheated I really suffer. This year seems to have been particularly bad. I was hot even in the winter. I also lose one of my very effective pain relieving treatments – my heating pad. Since I started using a heating pad a couple of years ago, I have noticed that I have far less pain in my back. I sleep with a heating pad at night on my both my stomach and back and it does help to relieve a lot of pain. With the really good air conditioner we now have, I can sleep with the heating pad all night.

Fatigue is also a huge contributor to my anxiety levels. If I have to get up early and be somewhere at a normal morning time[3] I have a really hard time. Even if I get 9 hours sleep I still suffer. Last month I had to attend an all day training session in Vancouver that started at 9am. I was completely exhausted. I had to drink tea all day to stay awake. It took me about a week to recover. The stress of having to be places when I am extremely fatigued causes me a great deal of anxiety.

A byproduct of being an anxious person is loud noises and beeping. I have a visceral reaction to loud noises. I find them extremely jarring. Beeping is the same thing. I fit goes on for any length of time it really stresses me out. It seems to that the list of noises that bother me is getting very long. Yesterday, the movement of dishes in the dishwasher was too much.

I try really hard to identify the cause of my anxiety and deal with it. If I am not, I sit by the air conditioner; if I am in pain, I take something; if there are loud noises, I move away. Sometimes these methods don’t work so then I add in deep breathing and trying to focus my mind on something else. Last night all of my tricks did not work. I could not breathe and was bordering on tears. I took a clonazepam. I really don’t like to take them and my doctor won’t give me that many so I save them for the really bad days. Interestingly, it seems to take me 2 days to get over an anxiety attack. Today with all the pain I had to medicate again.

Not having control over some of the functions of my body is very disconcerting. It really doesn’t matter if it is the ulcerative colitis or the GAD. Having your body do or not do things that you need it to do causes all sorts of problems. The stress of not knowing when I might have a ulcerative colitis attack or an anxiety attack makes things very difficult and stressful. All of this becomes a feedback loop and the more stressed I am the more I have problems with the ulcerative colitis and the GAD.


[1] I am just reading the definition in Wikipedia and it says things like numbness in the hands, sweating and hot flashes. I seem to have even more symptoms.

[2] This is a factor of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This is different from Inflammatory Bowel Disease of which ulcerative colitis and Crhon’s Disease are the primary manifestations.

[3] Like 9 am.

The power of mothers

Mothers have great power. Some mothers choose to use their power for good. They support and empower their children. Good mothers recognize and celebrate the strengths and accomplishments of their children while supporting them through any difficulties they may experience. Sadly, I do not have a mother like this.

Instead, I have a mother who belittles me at every opportunity. Deb says it is because she can’t stand how smart I am. She knows I am sick and today is a particularly bad day. I have to take powerful laxatives from time to time to make sure that my system does not cease up due to medication. I can’t take the medication I need if things are not moving. This is actually not a colitis symptom. I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome which, of course, exacerbates the whole situation. Someone accidentally tracked poop in the house. Deb said she would clean it up but instead my mother handed me a brush and the carpet cleaner and said “here this will keep you out of trouble.” She knows I am sick, really sick today and bending straight over at the waist puts huge pressure on my sciatica and my bowel. Agony. I was in tears.

She has an ability to make me cry easily. Over the years, I have gotten better and she is not really as able to do this but not right now. I am not strong right now. I know that. I knew that before we got here. Most years I am really good at keeping the peace. I am not able to do that this year. I am also not able to see the little pitfalls she puts in my place. She has managed to pack more crap into 2 days than she usually does in a 4 or 5 day visit.

My anxiety level is completely ramped up because of pain and my lack of emotional stability. She has a way of getting me when I least expect and she can seriously destroy my self-esteem when I am here. This brings up all sorts of negative thoughts I would not think otherwise. I think part of the reason I embrace work while I am here is because it is a touchstone for me that brings me back to my reality. My mom is out with Deb (poor Deb) doing some errands. I will be back under control by the time they get back because I will not allow that women to know that I cried.

I am also so grateful that Deb stayed. I told her she could go to be with Kirby if necessary but of course I did not want her to go. Thankfully Kirby is fine and at home and Deb is here with me. We also have Piper and Sawyer with us which is awesome too. Although even the dogs don’t escape the criticism. My mother has told Piper she is fat about 6 or times per day since we got her. I can only imagine how poisoned her mind must be that she wants to put us through this hell.

I am an idiot…

My health has been pretty good for the last several months. i have been taking immune suppresant drugs and my colitis has mostly been in remission. I still struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome but it is manageable. So last night when I was woken up with a familiar pain I could not understand why it was there. I have not had that kind of pain in several months. I took some emtec and was able to get back to sleep. When I got up this morning I still had the pain and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, it dawned on me, how much of an idiot I am. I ate popcorn yesterday. Not much but it was mostly the little pieces that is all brown kernels. Popcorn (like nuts) is an enemy to those of us with colitis. The little pieces irritate the hell out of the colon and cause a lot of pain. So, I am suffering today. It is a good reminder that I am not out of the woods yet. I still need to be very vigilant with what I eat or I am going to be in trouble again.

The spectre of colitis right now is very large. It was about this time last year that my health began to spiral out of control. I am so afraid that my improved health will be lost. I have worked very hard to become more healthy and get back to work. My doctor says it will take quite a while before the anxiety lessens. I take my medication religiously and it is working. I also tolerate the immune suppresants very well. In my case, if the immune suppresants stop working I am likely going to have to consider colon removal if this happens again. Having enjoyed relatively good health for the last couple of months I don’t think I would hesitate to have it removed if the colitis came bac with a vengeance.

For now though I do not have to face that decision. But I will not eat popcorn again anytime soon.