Saturday, April 01, 2006

Posting hiatus - Acute Diverticulitis

I had a bit of a posting hiatus. Not one by choice, just one of those dealt to you.

I'll start with some definitions from Even though they may have specific meaning a lot of people use them interchangeably. It is not a topic that one really likes to discuss with others, but it is reality.


The intestine. Often used in the plural.

A part or division of the intestine: the large bowel.


The portion of the alimentary canal extending from the stomach to the anus and, in humans and other mammals, consisting of two segments, the small intestine and the large intestine. Often used in the plural.

large intestine:

The portion of the intestine that extends from the ileum to the anus, forming an arch around the convolutions of the small intestine and including the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal.


The section of the large intestine extending from the cecum to the rectum.

I found myself doubled over and not doing to well after eating lunch with my father-in-law. We had been doing some work around the farm last Saturday before going out to lunch. As we returned to his house my stomach began to cramp. This was around 1pm. I immediately left his house and headed home. My stomach only got worse and after throwing up my vision blurred. After talking to the physician on call at my doctor's office, my wife took me to the Emergency Room in our town. After being there for some time they diagnosed the blurred vision as a result of my allergy medicine. It has caused a slight blurring in vision before, but ever so slight that it was negligible. What I had now was down right blurred. I could not read a typed page in front of my face. I could not read the top row of an eye chart, we are talking major vision problem. Kind of scary. The stomach pains they diagnosed as constipation and sent me on my way, telling me to take a couple of stool softener/laxatives each morning and evening.

I went home without much comfort in regards to stomach pain. Sunday was no better. After talking to the physician on call a couple of more times, she suggested heading back to the ER. She suggested that I might want to try a different ER, but that was my choice. As the other ER in town is not a member of my HMO, I did decide to go to another ER. It is about 45 miles away. So Sunday, we arrived at the other ER around 7pm. I believe I was in the ER until around 2am when they admitted me. It would not be until Thursday afternoon, before I would be released to return home.

While in the ER they did X-rays as had the other ER, but they had me drink some contrast liquid (yuck) and did a CT scan as well. At this point they were feeling that there was a forty percent chance I would have to go under the knife. They decided over the next couple of days that they wanted to do a colonoscopy. Tuesday evening they had me drink a half gallon of another salty tasting liquid, of which I threw up about 500ml. The bad part was that I had to finish the second half of the gallon the next morning and make up for the 500ml that I had thrown up the night before.

They had said it would be mid to late morning when they would take me down for the scope. Well around 1:30pm they came and got me. Took me in my bed down from the 6th floor to the 1st floor and rolled it into the scoping room. The gastro-intestinal doctors came in and started talking to me as the RN got the scope equipment ready. It was at this point that the two doctors gave me their diagnosis, acute diverticulitis, and as a result said that they could not recommend following through with the scope as there are usually perforations in the intestine as a result of diverticulitis, which would likely mean that doing a colonoscopy would rupture the perforation and I would have a nice big hole in my intestine, which could allow the spread of the infection into the abdomen, a condition called Peritonitis (pair-ee-toe-ni-tis), which left untreated can kill you. Okay, even though I drank the nasty stuff, I was convinced to pass on the scope. The doctors did say that I did not fit most of the risk factors. My pain was also across the whole abdomen from side to side and from hips to ribs. Normally with acute diverticulitis, one has localized pain (pain at a specific location).

To help relieve the pain they had me on morphine, which did nothing. They later bumped it up to Dilaudid (a synthetic morphine), which did finally relieve some of the pain. Things have gotten better. I am not back to 100%, but was released from the hospital last Thursday.

Diverticulitis - it is an infection of the small sac-like pouches in the muscle wall of the large bowel (colon). These sacs are called diverticula (di-ver-tik-u-luh). Stool or food that is not broken down can get trapped in the diverticula. This can cause swelling and pain in your abdomen. It is most common in people over the age of 60. Okay, so I am 41.

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