Tuesday, 22 July 2014

a colonic episode

From early May I've had a strange constipation problem. wow, what a pleasant opener. As much detail I could go into, I will just say that I've had what many google searches call "chronic constipation" ....I really have no idea what was causing it  - it was one of those problems where I tried everything and got sick of people giving me the same advice "drink coffee, eat prunes and take laxatives" - as though I hadn't thought of that yet. Even going to Israel a fortnight ago for a family wedding - where I had a complete change of diet - did nothing. Upon my return I was starting to look pretty pregnant - and was feeling very concerned. I digress. 

One thing I hadn't tried yet was a "colonic massage" .... I found a youtube video tutorial and spent a good 40 minutes one night massaging my very bloated belly. 

When I woke up the next morning I had strange pain in my lower right abdomen. It wasn't excruciating or anything, just odd... something I hadn't experienced before. I shrugged it off and went to work. I had two classes in the morning, during which the pain was invariably fighting for my attention. When I finally got a break, I went straight online to figure out what was going on. I got a bit of a fright when all signs pointed towards appendicitis. Surely this couldn't be the case?.... I only had one symptom.

However, I started to worry and took myself to the nurses room. after finding out the Japanese word for appendix, I explained to the nurses what I believed to be the problem. My supervisor,  Yoshikawa sensei was called, who came to pick me up. She took me to a local doctors clinic. 

The doctor asked me a couple questions and gave me a brief examination. He decided that I needed to be looked at properly and called an ambulance. So I went with Yoshikawa in the ambulance to the hospital. It was pretty cool, I've never actually been in an ambulance before. It felt rather silly to be honest as I felt completely fine. I was strapped to a bed with a heart monitor and a machine measuring my blood pressure. The paramedic, who was really sweet, tried his best to make small talk with me which gave me a chance to practice my Japanese, as Yoshikawa, who didn't enjoy the bumpy journey, filled in the linguistic gaps. 

When we arrived at the hospital everything felt like an episode of Grey's Anatomy. Loads of doctors ran towards me as the ambulance doors opened. I was carried from one bed to another - taken into a big operating room - then loads of random cool stuff started happening at the same time. I had about seven doctors doing different things around me - one guy taking blood from my arm, one woman giving me a horribly painful injection into my groin (I will never understand what the hell that was for) ... one woman was putting stickers onto my chest (again?), people were touching my abdomen trying to figure out the source of the pain asking loads of stuff in Japanese which I tried my best to answer, one guy sticking a thermometer under my armpit...and so on. I felt pretty special. I also was giggling uncontrollably. Which I've learnt is a weird habit I have at times I feel genuinely uncomfortable...of course it tends to exacerbate things, but I've learnt to accept that.

I was then rushed into a room for a CT scan. I was injected by this weird stuff which made my body go all warm - I had a few moments where I was worried I had lost control of my bladder and wet myself - but I checked later and luckily I hadn't (phew). Then I was rushed into another room and an x-ray was taken. Afterwards, I was taken back to the first room - where more injections and stuff happened. By this point I was feeling pretty exhausted so wasn't paying as much attention - the giggling had stopped as the novelty of being in an episode of ER had worn off. 

I could see one doctor looking at my x-ray results on a monitor, as they discussed the results. By this point I had contrasting feelings. Firstly, I hoped it was nothing serious, because that would obviously suck and lead to expensive scary surgery. However, I also had that weird, almost guilty feeling, where you sort of hope its not completely nothing - because then you would feel really embarrassed for wasting everyone's time and for causing a total fuss over nothing  - not to mention maybe a little bit of over-dramatic panic crying in the nurses office earlier that day HOW EMBARRASSING.  

The verdict:
Yoshikawa was called back in for her mad translation skillz. I learnt that I did in fact have appendicitis, but luckily I had caught it early so surgery was not necessary (thank god for being a hypochondriac riiight?). I was told that it was caused by the constipation - damn my blocked pipes. I was told I could either stay at the hospital for three days or take medication at home. I knew staying in the hospital was unnecessary and expensive, so opted for home treatment.

Before I left, I was put on a drip - which was cool - when I had to go to the toilet I had to wheel it in with me like in the movies. I was put on a course of antibiotics and given this powdery laxative stuff to be taken after every meal. Luckily it didn't taste too bad. Two days later I had to go back to the hospital for a check-up. My recovery was fast - and the pain was gone within 3 days. I didn't even need the follow-up drip treatment that had been planned. 

I was told that I will be fiine. Hooray. The only thing is that if this happens again (the chronic constipation block-up nonsense) I might get appendicitis again. This actually really scares me because I don't know what caused it. However,  I was given a massive load of different laxatives - just in case - and was sent on my way. 

Today my stomach is back to its normal (moderately) flat self. Which is good timing because summer has begun and I plan on spending it in my bikini on the beach. This weekend I am going on a trip to Niijima, one of the Izu islands off Tokyo. Awesome. 

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