Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Day in the Life: A Crohn's Flare During Pregnancy

People ask how I'm feeling a lot. There are maybe a handful of people I feel I can give an honest answer to, maybe. I'd really prefer that people didn't ask. 1. They don't really care, it's just the polite thing to say. 2. They don't want to know the real answer even if I wanted to tell them.

I turn down a lot of events and play dates these days. I haven't been able to do them. People ask, "oh, are you still getting sick?" My sick is much more than morning sickness, but since I'm pregnant everyone relates my "being sick" to normal pregnancy issues. That is not the case. I also have Crohn's Disease.

Yes, this is my 4th pregnancy, but it has been very different and much more difficult (I just hope that's not saying anything about the baby to come). During my previous pregnancies my Crohn's was under control, it was actually better than when I wasn't pregnant! (This post is about to get a little graphic, so if you just ate, turn away now) This pregnancy started with indigestion from the pits of hell (I also have GERD). It got so bad that I started to wonder if I had pancreatitis again. Then the diarrhea started. At first I told myself it was normal pregnancy hormones causing the change, or maybe the antibiotics I had for a sinus infection. It didn't get better.

I really knew something was wrong this time around, or at least had to stop denying it, when I traveled to Panama City in January for my grandma's birthday. The pain in my gut that day was something I hadn't experienced in years. By the end of the party I was having a hard time sitting up straight or standing. I wanted to curl up in a ball but what I really wanted was to go home and use my own bathroom.

Many people, understandably, think of someone with Crohn's Disease as just having to go to the bathroom a lot. While frequent trips to the bathroom are often a big part of the disease it is much more complicated than that. With Crohn's Disease, parts of the gastrointestinal tract (yes, the whole thing, mouth to bum, different/multiple sections depending on the patient) are inflamed. It is angry, it hates you, and it can be difficult for things to fit through. It hurts.

When in a flare (do I need to explain flare? My husband didn't know what it meant until recently. It essentially means the disease is active, symptoms are present; not in remission) I not only have to go to the bathroom frequently but I'm in pain. When I go to the bathroom, I'm not just passing the worst diarrhea ever. I'm passing mucus, blood, and completely undigested food. Sometimes one of those things is all I pass. If you've ever been disturbed by what you've seen in the toilet after you had a BM, imagine feeling like you have to go badly, then standing up to see a toilet full of blood. Remember I'm pregnant so I also get to pair this with morning sickness and this pregnancy everything makes me nauseated.

This is not only disturbing, annoying, and painful, it also means that my body is not absorbing the nutrients it needs to. I'm often dehydrated and borderline anemic. I'm also angry and tired and I have all the normal pregnancy woes as well.

It's 9:30 am and I've already gone to the bathroom 8 times today (and not because pregnant women pee a lot if you know what I mean). That being since about 6:30, I'm not counting the times during the night. 

I've only almost thrown up this morning, so that part it good.

I have 2 kids that are in school, I couldn't take them because I had to use the bathroom, my husband took them. Their school is two blocks from our house. I often can't make it there.

My youngest is home with me and I tend to let him watch more TV than I like because I can't do anything with him right now. I'm so tired, hurting, and uncomfortable. I never know when I'll have to get up and rush to the bathroom. 

I'm cooking some rice with extra water so I can drink it. It's supposed to help diarrhea, it hasn't worked so far.

Around lunch time my trips to the bathroom become less frequent, though no less urgent. We won't go anywhere today. I'm afraid to leave the house. What if I'm in the middle of a store and can't get to the bathroom in time? What if it happens while driving the van?

We haven't gone much of anywhere in weeks, months. We go to doctor appointments. I'll have a week that's like doctor appointment week. I'll see my OB, I'll see the maternal/fetal medicine doctor (for high risk pregnancies), and I'll see the gastroenterologist. Three weeks later I'll do it all again.

I have to make my appointments around lunch time or later. I used to do this so that husband could come on his lunch break but now it's more because that's when I'm less likely to be rushing to the bathroom. I have to take Imodium to be able to make it through the appointments anyway. I have to take children's Imodium, it's liquid and mint flavored. It's disgusting. Later I'll pay for taking it, but it's the only way I can leave the house.

By the afternoon I can sit outside for a while and watch Ben play. I'm afraid to move around too much. It's uncomfortable and it might make me have to go to the bathroom. 

I can pick the older kids up from school, I'm worried about how long I might have to wait in line but I do it. Ben gets a nap when we get back home. I really want a nap.

I really don't feel like helping Will with homework but if I save too much for husband to help with then he can't help me with supper or occupy the kids while I cook. I'm irritable and snappy.

The evening goes by fairly normally, just with more moodiness and exhaustion from me.

It's about time for bed now so, of course, the frequent bathroom trips start up again. I'll go 3-4 times over the next 2 hours. When I finally lay down in bed, I have about 5 minutes until I have to jump (as well as a largely pregnant woman can) up out of bed and rush to the bathroom.

Tomorrow we start it all over.

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