Diverticulitis is a digestive disease that I have now, because according to my astrological chart, when I was born, the stars and planets aligned to make a baby with weak bowels. Thank you, space and time, for this gift of immeasurable agony and horrible poops.
Diverticulitis comes from the Latin word diverticulum. Die – because that’s what you feel like and eventually hope for. Ver – because it’s ver ver bad. So ver bad. Ticu – because it ticks you off when it isn’t making you cry on the toilet for two hours. Lie – because that’s what doctors use to treat you – lies about how one day it will go away but JOKES ON YOU because it lasts forever. Tis – because tis is complete and utter bullshittery.
In May of 2016(!!), Cassie and I were leaving for our first trip together, to Las Vegas, one of my favorite places. I woke up feeling gassy and bloated, but figured it was because I had eaten a ridiculous amount of raw broccoli and cauliflower the night before. I thought it would subside, but it worsened throughout the weekend and, though I tried to enjoy every moment, all the beautiful memories are tinged with recollections of painful cramps and the constant need to poop without ever being able to. When we made it back home, I was exhausted and in constant pain. It felt like someone kept twisting my intestines around shards of glass. In the middle of one night, I had to take a bath to soothe myself, and when Cassie woke up and checked on me I started crying hysterically and said I needed to go to the emergency room.
The wonderful thing about the emergency room is that they have pain medicines there. The horrible thing about the emergency room is pretty much everything else. Someone stuck a finger in my butt. I cried. I DO NOT LIKE THAT. Sadly, it was only the first of many times people would be putting fingers in there, and none of them in the privacy of a bedroom.
As I may or may not have mentioned before now, Cassie is my wife. I HAVE A WIFE – HOLY SHIT. Before she became my wife, and she was just my fiancee, I let her know that I didn’t really have a choice but to marry her because, since my diagnosis of diverticulitis, the things she has heard and smelled and witnessed and looked at up close are far too horrifying for me to let her go into the wild without a legal contract. Things that she has gone through with me since my illness began include: scooping diarrhea from a bucket into a test tube after watching me poop into a bucket. Hugging me while I cry and try to poop for two hours. Having countless conversations with me while pooping because I have had to spend pretty much all the last two years on the toilet, pooping. Listening to me talk about my poop multiple times a day. Having to remember things about me and my poops to tell the doctors because I’ve been so high on medications that I can’t recall most of it in any great detail except to say – IT HURT SO FUCKING BAD MAKE IT STOP. Also, she has – on multiple occasions – had to put on rubber gloves and look directly into my butthole. MULTIPLE TIMES – AND SHE NEVER CRIED OR THREW UP, even after that thing happened that one time but WE WILL NOT SPEAK OF IT.
Diverticulitis is the inflammation of diverticulosis. Diverticulosis are pouches that form in weak spots of the intestinal wall, and usually in the sigmoid colon – or the part where it’s closest to the rectum, that place where people keep putting their fingers. Diverticulosis are like cats…no one actually ever wants them but one day, out of nowhere, they just show up. Mostly they’re fine: they watch birds from the window, sleep in a sunbeam, lick their paws or slowly wander around the house meowing at nothing at all, except occasionally and for no reason whatsoever, they steal your wallet, head out to buy some PCP, get so high and agitated that they flip your car over and burn your house down with a road flair and then just sit back and watch. Diverticulosis themselves are not harmful, but occasionally, things get stuck inside them and then an infection starts and all hell breaks loose. Do you know what an infection in your colon feels like? It feels like crying for days on end, lying in bed curled up with a heating pad and taking narcotics that don’t work. Sometimes you wake up from a fevered sleep and your wife hands you a fistful of pills and a glass of water and you just take them even if it feels like you’re in Misery and maybe later she is going to break your ankles.
At our rehearsal dinner, I took a moment to thank Cassie for helping me through the last year-plus. I don’t know how I would have managed without her there every day. It hasn’t been easy for her…we have missed so many things and cancelled so many plans because, well, “Linsey can’t stop pooping.” Or crying. Or aching. Oh, look, now she has hemorrhoids. Let’s just put her dignity in the trash with the last 365+ days of our lives. That’s the thing about chronic illness – it isn’t just about the sick person, it’s about their entire family and social circle. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve had to cancel plans with people because…”Oh, hey…sorry. Linsey’s anus is wrecked.”
Diverticulosis are small pouches that form in the weakened areas of the colon. Once they form, you have them 4 Eva. Picture them like Mark Wahlberg’s character in Fear…they show up on your lawn with LINSEY 4 EVA cut into their abdomen. Most people with diverticulosis never have any issues, but of course, not me! In roughly 20 of every 100 cases, the diverticulosis – or, as I like to refer to them, the pouches – can become inflamed and infected when things get stuck inside them, like popcorn, seeds and quinoa. I am one of those peoples. In fact, the way things have gone for me, I’m roughly all 20 of those people.
The first 8 months of my illness were paired with sub-par medical care because I had a petty, hateful and ugly-hearted boss who arbitrarily decided one day that I couldn’t use my sick time to go to the doctor and seek medical care until and unless I provided them with unfettered access to all of my medical records, including therapy records. The therapy where I may or may not – but definitely did – talk about how my boss was a petty, hateful and hard-hearted human being. After my initial ER visit (because that’s the only place you can go when you can’t leave work to see a doctor), I was given narcotics. And then I went to my doctor because the pain was intolerable, I was weak, I couldn’t stop crying and I still hadn’t been able to poop. Have you ever had constipation for weeks at a time? WELL I HAVE and it’s horrible. My abdomen was bloated and hard. I laid on the exam table and when my doctor said to turn on my side, she stuck her finger in my b. I cried. I cried so hard. The indignity! The finger! The horror! After she was done in there, she took off her glove, threw it away and turned to me with a smile. “Well…it’s right there. You’ve got poop all ready to go.” And then I ran across the hall and pooped some of the most painful and vile poops I have ever experienced. The key to understanding chronic bowel diseases is to know that this is a very humbling situation. There is no dignity in it. You will spend your life immersed, sometimes literally, in poop. So will your wife, family, friends and blog readers.
Once I left my old job for greener pastures – I was again able to seek proper medical care. Unfortunately, so much damage had been done that my colon cannot repair itself. In fact, it has collapsed. What’s a collapsed colon, you ask? It’s a fucking nightmare, that’s what.
This is only the first of many posts where I’ll talk about my body, my intestines, my colon, my poops, my diet, my wife, my life, all my feelings and also sometimes other things that are entirely unrelated, like animals and space and how my wife doesn’t think the moon landing is real and how her best friend agrees with her. HIGHLY EDUCATED HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE ALSO INSANE. Welcome back. Let’s have some fun.