The Fault in Our Stalls

Yeah, you read that right. I finally got to see The Fault in Our Stars last night. I had wanted to see it on the release date, being a big fan of John Green and his work, but alas, I was admitted into the hospital the day it was released. I basically lived The Fault in Our Stars, minus the actual cancer part. I was poked, prodded, and asked “Does it hurt when I do this?”. I still have a wicked grape purple bruise on the inside of my left elbow from a bad attempt at a blood drawing at 5 in the morning. No hard feelings to those nurses, though. I have weird veins, apparently. Lucky me.

All in all, I thought it was a really cute movie. Pros: it was really accurate to the book. Cons: …It was really accurate to the book. I’m not much of a crier unless I get frustrated about something, but even I leaked out a few tears. The movie ended up making me think about my own health situation.

A lot of people take their health for granted these days, especially people my age (early 20’s). I was a pretty healthy person before I began to feel the symptoms on ulcerative colitis. I’m almost a year into being officially diagnosed and I still find myself trying to work the same way that I used to: straight into the ground. This past semester’s finals week was really rough on me: five finals and three of them on the same day. I even had a final on dead day. How bogus is that? I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to rest because I had signed up for a two week fast term class and picked up hours at work. I’d been on a dose of 30mg of Prednisone since a little after spring break, which is a pretty high dosage for a long amount of time, along with my four-pills-a-day of Lialda. Unfortunately, I began to notice that my energy levels began to decline dramatically and I was going to the restroom up to 20 times a day on average toward the end of my fast term class. The stress caught up to me and lead to intestinal bleeding and… Mucus. It’s really gross and painful.

I knew all of this wasn’t right, so I called my doctor after a weekend of waiting, was scheduled for an appointment that Thursday, and my doctor sent me straight to the hospital to be admitted for almost 8 days and got out late Friday the 13th.

Since I’ve gotten out of the hospital, my main struggle has been getting used to walking again. You don’t end up moving around much when you have a comfy bed that you can position however you want. I only ever left my room once for my colonoscopy and I only ever really got up to take care of bathroom breaks and personal hygiene. It was actually pretty fantastic if I say so myself.

Stairs have been my main issue these couple days. I’ve never been a huge fan of them because with off-ice figure skating training, I used to have to hop up a concrete staircase on one leg. I was always afraid I’d fall down and scrape something up. But now I’ve lost a lot of muscle sitting still for that long, though, not to mention gained a lot of joint pain.

I had to deal with stairs last night at my friend’s house and the movie theatre and today at a baseball game. I actually had to make a quick run to the bathroom during the middle of the movie last night and almost fell flat on my face. I let gravity take me down the wide theatre steps a bit too freely, and then as soon as I made it to the level ground in the front, my legs turned to Jell-O. Luckily I was able to flap my arms enough to steady myself out and leave before I made a fool of myself. It was a pretty bizarre experience, but I didn’t really think of it at the time. I really just had to go to the bathroom. I’ll only ever have to worry about running unless the zombie apocalypse ever happens, but I’m pretty sure Neil DeGrasse Tyson has already pretty solidly ruled that one out.

Today at the baseball game was pretty rough. I thought ahead and wrapped my left knee up in a knee brace to remind myself to slow it down. They both hurt, but I just sat and figured that my left one hurts a bit more. I leaned onto the stair rails when I could, but my arms are still pretty sore from the IVs I had. After a while of fetching snacks for myself and my mom, I started feeling sharp pain in now my knees AND my ankles with each stair step I took. I had pretty major injuries involving my ankles at various times during my skating career, so I guess that’s to be expected. Also, a side effect of strong steroids is bone degeneration and ultimately an early onset of osteoporosis. It’s pretty scary hearing that you could get that as early as 21. After all of that, I only ever got up from my seat to go to the bathroom in order to save energy. Luckily my older brother had gotten “diamond deck” seats, so we had a nice table in the shade right behind home plate.

If you just looked at me, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “But you don’t look sick!” I’d be able to pay off my hospital bills overnight. I know it’s usually meant as a compliment, but it nearly invalidates all of the things I’ve gone through. There are other people with my “invisible” issues too, so don’t automatically look down on someone who stood up on their own for a little while even though they have a wheelchair or if they drove themselves to the handicapped parking spot with a valid sticker, but slid out of their car “without any problem”. Their main problem most likely isn’t the fact that they have mobility problems. I could even probably get a handicapped spot if I really looked into it because of my ulcerative colitis. I know there are some days where I really would need it to make a quick escape to the bathroom. Parking at my university is a nightmare for commuters, not to mention the walking to class part. Basically, don’t be a douche because there’s more of a chance that someone actually needs that cane than it actually being for show.

I’ve decided to look into taking more vitamins. I’ve been thinking at least Calcium and Vitamin D on top of everything else. I have a bit of an aversion to dairy products because of my ulcerative colitis, but I’ll definitely start drinking my milk. Milk’s more of an issue for me than the other products. Cheese is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let go.

I’m definitely planning on telling my doctor about the joint pain too during my hospital follow up visit this week. I’m gonna make sure to call in as soon as I get off of work tomorrow. Maybe I can get something that’ll help.

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