So, I’ve got diverticular disease - pockets that protrude from my colon. Lots of people have it, but mostly a lot of old people. I suspect I have it at such a young age as it can be hereditary and my great grandmother always had it. Actually, a fair few people in my family have gastrointestinal disorders.
I’ve also read that it primarily exists in western culture as a result of eating too much processed food. More on that later.
I’ve always had stomach “issues” since childhood, but my family doctor could never pinpoint an issue. It wasn’t until I came down with what was suspected to be food poisoning that I found out about these little pockets on my colon.
On that night 4 years ago, I found myself doubled up in the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life. In between trips to the bathroom I rolled and writhed around as pain bubbled up, pinching and stabbing through my pelvis, for hours on end. I couldn’t keep anything down and was incapable of standing without feeling faint or passing out.
I’d never been to the ER before, but I went that night - mostly due to dehydration. I remember the nurse having to talk me down from hyperventilating. They stuck an IV in my arm, stuffed me full of anti-nausea meds and made me sleep for a while. When I woke my entire body was in pain. I spent the next week recovering and never found out what exactly had caused my illness.
Jump two months down the road and I start getting pains in my lower abdomen, right side. Stabbing pains that don’t feel normal. I go to an urgent care clinic - they push on my appendix and I yelp in pain. Time to go to the hospital.
Before I know it I’m getting my CAT scan results back. My appendix is obviously infected, but something looks odd and they’re not sure what it is. Either way, they’re going in to operate. Right now. I’m naked on a table. I go under. It’s over in what feels like seconds. When I wake up I find three wounds on my abdomen and everything about that day runs together, but I remember the doctor’s explanation.
One of the pockets on my colon had trapped bacteria or some kind of infection, diverticulitis most likely caused by my food poisoning incident. The infection spread as the pocket came in contact with my appendix and the entire outside became infected and inflamed.
After I recovered, a colonoscopy cleared me of any more potential illness or diverticulitis, but the diverticula (pockets) weren’t going anywhere. I’d need to be sure to eat much more fiber and keep myself regular, otherwise I’d stand the possibility of another infection.
Now, you can imagine how this incident has impacted my life in a lot of ways. At first, it took me a long time to be able to eat normally. I threw out food that was even close to expiring. I stopped eating fast food, or ate it only sparingly. I became overly paranoid about undercooked food and stopped eating raw fish. I inspected every single thing I ate before putting it into my mouth.
I have made a lot of progress since then, but whenever my stomach acts up in a specific way - that unique stabbing pain in my lower abdomen - it takes me back to both of those incidents.
I’m having one of those nights.
When I feel like this, I don’t know what to do except blame myself.
“I shouldn’t have had that cheeseburger last night, what if it was bad?” “I should have been eating more fiber” “I should be exercising more, it’s supposed to be helpful”
On and on and on and on.
So to stop the cycle I decided to write about it, right here and now, and it’s helping, but I’m still having a hard time owning myself and my body tonight. Owning my actions. Being okay with them.
I keep feeling like I have to justify or validate things to myself.
“But I’ve been eating so much fiber lately, I ate all those veggies and hummus last night!”
I’ve been on a spinach kick as well and I’m putting that shit on everything.
As much as I eat “healthy”, I still eat processed foods as well. I scale back on them time and again, but sometimes it’s necessary to grab a fast food meal when I work as much as I do and barely have time to leave my computer. Sometimes I gotta grab a danish in my morning. Whatever. Either way, sometimes I think my diet is actually quite balanced - but whenever my stomach acts funny, I start overanalyzing every single aspect of it.
Now I’m having this internal battle with myself and I really hate having this battle, because I’ve worked so hard to stop feeling guilty, and it’s all just flooding back. All of the guilt. It’s overwhelming. That’s all I can articulate.
This has been a very dismal post, but there it is. That’s what I’m feeling. It felt good to say.