Saturday, October 20, 2012

Infection time again

Last night, I began to feel a pain in my lower left abdomen. I was hoping it was simply gas pain, but when it didn't go away after a few hours, and knowing what happened the last time I felt this pain but didn't immediately address it, I drove myself over to a nearby emergency clinic.

The CT scan confirmed what I had suspected: another diverticulitis attack. Fortunately, I had caught it early enough: the pain had not yet become unbearable and the CT scan showed no abscesses or ruptures. No hospital stay for me this time; after keeping me there for a couple of hours to administer antibiotics intravenously, they gave me some prescriptions and eating instructions and sent me on my way. I will call my gastroenterologist next week to discuss next steps. I'm sure he'll want to do a colonoscopy after the swelling goes down, but what about long-term management of this problem?

I knew that, having already had one diverticulitis attack, another one was likely sooner or later. I was hoping that they'd be five- to ten-year occurrences, but right now they're on track to be occur at two-year intervals, give or take. I had been trying to prevent them by taking lots of fiber (in the form of whole grains, leafy vegetables and fiber supplements) and avoiding constipation; obviously that strategy didn't work out for me this time around (and, for what it's worth, a study was published early this year that suggests that high-fiber diets worsen, not lessen, the condition that underlies diverticulitis, although not the infectious attacks themselves).

I get to take medication and eat a soft, mostly-liquid diet for the next week or so, but I'm nevertheless glad I recognized the problem and decided not to "wait for the pain to go away" but rather addressed it early. But I'm now worried that I'm either going to have to live with an annoying and chronically-reappearing disease for the rest of my life, or go under the knife to get part of my large intestine removed. Neither option appeals to me.


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