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Greetings from my home for the week: Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Guess what? It sucks here and I hate it. But I’m trying to suck up the “hospitals are so depressing and I miss my bed and I haven’t showered since Wednesday” feeling and tell myself that being here is for the best.
A little background info…
By now you probably know that I’ve been sick for a month. A month of stomach cramping, a month of painful bathroom runs and a month of trying to tell myself “it’s not that bad, this will pass.” My “good days” were far from actually being good and my standard for a decent quality of life had gone way down. So when I saw my doctor Tuesday night and told him the high dose of steroids he had me on had done absolutely nothing — not a single sign of improvement — he decided to admit me to the hospital.
Yes, I cried.
It wasn’t like, “Let’s bring you in for some tests in a few days when it’s convenient for you.” It was, “Go home and pack a bag, we’ll get a bed ready for you and you’re going to be in there for a little while.”
Dr. Super Nice said that because I’ve been flaring so much this year, I may have developed new areas of the disease in my body. He said it’s clear I’m immune to the steroids, and on top of that I’ve likely developed an antibody to the Remicade infusions I’ve been getting every eight weeks.
In other words: What we’re doing isn’t working, so let’s figure out another plan. He told me that I “failed outpatient therapy,” which seemed like an insult. WTF, doc? I’m not a failure. I’m trying to be awesome.
Dr. Great said I’d get a bunch of tests while I was in the hospital, including an MRI (to view the small bowels) and a colonoscopy (to see all the other stuff up close). From there we’d determine a plan of action to treat this damn thing and get me back up and running (no seriously, remember running?). He also said resorting to IV steroids might be an option. He told me to “bring an iPad” and then asked if I had any questions, and I asked if he would give me money to buy an iPad. He laughed, and I still do not have an iPad. WTF?
I left his office Tuesday night feeling relieved that we were going to start all these tests and knowing these are the right steps to take, but also feeling totally overwhelmed. Remember that whole “I have a job” thing? And the fact that I have a wedding to attend on Sunday and nothing to wear? And also “So You Think You Can Dance” is on on Wednesday nights and what if I can’t watch it in the hospital? Major concerns.
But I went home, packed a bag, washed my hair (that seemed important at the time) and waited for the hospital to call.
Brian and I got dinner, and by 10 PM I still hadn’t heard from Mount Sinai. No beds for Ali. So I went to sleep. I was all anxious and stuff.
The hospital called early Wednesday morning telling me a bed was ready and I could be admitted. So off I went, Brian in tow, feeling like I was checking myself into rehab or something.
Check-in went fine and eventually I was brought up to my room. I had a roommate at first (Sheryl, but she got to leave, lucky old lady) and got set up with an IV (“I’m giving you the big needle so it might hurt” — and it did).
I got moved to a private room, which was great, because no one should have to be my roommate while I’m prepping for a colonoscopy. They also started me on a clear liquid diet, which is super delicious.
Since I got here, it’s basically just been a lot of waiting around, a lot of frustration trying to get the doctors to explain to me what’s happening and a lot of letting people poke me. I’ve had IVs, I’ve given blood samples, I’ve given stool samples (gross) and I’ve taken multiple pregnancy tests. Seriously, these people love making you take pregnancy tests.
Gotta say though, I look pregnant. I’ve been pumped with such a massive volume of liquids since getting admitted that my stomach is hugely distended.
After sitting around all day Wednesday, the nurse told me I was getting taken down for an MRI. I asked how long it would take (“about an hour”) and if I had to do anything to prep for it (“nope!”) and basically Nurse Kiki lied to me about everything.
The MRI was awful. I’ve never had one before, and I wasn’t worried about the loud noises or the spaceship-like small space. It was awful because I had to drink three huge bottles of barium to prep for it, and that shit was disgusting. It made me so bloated and uncomfortable. During the procedure, they wrapped a big coily strap around my stomach to track my breathing, and it was pushing on me and it was uncomfortable. There was a lot of “take a deep breath in — breathe out — now hold it” and do you know how hard that is when you think you’re going to pee barium on the table?
The MRI took about an hour, and I expected to feel fine when it was over, but turns out, I did not. I was so nauseous. There was vomiting. I keep getting more attractive by the day, which is fun for everyone.
I didn’t get back up to my room until almost 10 PM, and I totally lost it when I came back to see Brian and my friend Lauren waiting for me in my room.
They have been here almost the whole time, and they’ve made everything so much better. The nurses and doctors don’t seem to care about me a whole lot, but these two crazy kids have kept me entertained and mostly happy.
I didn’t sleep very well Wednesday night, because hospitals are loud and there’s too much beeping, and Nurse Migel woke me up at 5:55 with breakfast…
The worst breakfast of my life.
He said I had to start drinking the colonoscopy prep juice, which is the worst thing ever. I really can’t comprehend how we can go get pictures of Mars and we can make cars that run on electricity (electricity!) but we can’t find a more pleasant way to prepare for a mildly invasive procedure. Blows my mind. This crap is vile.
I started drinking the stuff like a total champ. I downed a bunch of cups of it at first and was confident I could get through the entire half-gallon. But eventually I slowed down, and then I just couldn’t get going again. Brian tried to motivate me and help, but at one point I took a sip and barfed it right up. So I was done with that.
And because I couldn’t get any more liquid down, we had to resort to…another method.
The enema method.
Do you know what’s slightly more unpleasant than a too-tight MRI strap and barium and a liquid diet and colonoscopy juice?
Getting an enema.
Nope, let me correct that: Getting three enemas.
I don’t think you need many details. You’ve been through enough.
At one point yesterday morning I saw a great doctor who works with my doctor. He noticed my Team Challenge jacket and was all, “Team Challenge! Awesome! I do half marathons, too!” I loved him immediately.
And then there was more waiting, because my colonoscopy wasn’t actually going to happen until 4:00. Also I wasn’t allowed to drink any water. Sad Thirsty Ali.
I watched a lot of Grey’s Anatomy Season 2 during the day, which is the best season because it’s the one with Denny, but it’s also the worst season because it’s the one with Denny, and I don’t know if you know this — spoiler alert — but Denny dies. And it is tragic. It ranks up there on the sadness scale along with Stepmom, My Sister’s Keeper (yes, I have sophisticated taste), the episode of “The OC” where Ryan Atwood decides to go back to Chino (awful decision, because Teresa sucks and the Cohens are the greatest family of all-time) and that feeling you get when you take the last bite of something really delicious and then the food is done. Anyway. Grey’s Anatomy. Lots of it.
By 2 PM, all I could think was that I would gently kick a puppy for some solid food. My cravings included a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a Levain Bakery cookie. I wouldn’t kick a golden retriever puppy, but I would kick most other kinds of puppies in the name of chewy carbs.
The colonoscopy itself was fine. I waited in the holding room for two hours before they actually took me in and I made friends with a nice old lady from the Catskills named Gloria. Gloria was once in a coma for six days. What a trooper.
Once they brought me in, I remember laying on the table, getting the IV from the anesthesiologist and then waking up back in the holding room. I do not remember a single thing from the procedure.
I do, however, feeling very very very very happy when I woke up. I remember not shutting up, and I remember being excited that Gloria was recovering next to me. She told me I was “being very chatty,” and I vaguely remember asking her if she wanted to do karaoke.
I got wheeled back up to my room — at which point I recall singing “They see me rollin’…they hatin’…” and Brian and Lauren were waiting for me with food, and then I was happy.
Now it’s Friday morning of what was supposed to be my glorious long Labor Day Weekend. Instead of spending it shopping and playing and running, I’m in the hospital.
I’m optimistic that the worst of this is behind me now. I hated the MRI and I hated prepping for the colonoscopy. I hate being propped up in a bed all day and being poked and prodded and examined every hour.
The whole thing is exhausting.
I’m waiting for my doctor to come give me the results from all the tests and tell me how the heck he plans to fix me.
That’s all I’ve got for now. If you need me, I’m at Mount Sinai, rollin’ and hatin’.