We all like to think we’re in control of our own lives but in reality, none of us really knows what’s around the next corner. Life is not always plain sailing. As the owner of a complex medical history, I’ve had to learn to accept this fact the hard way. My life has been constantly disrupted by medical problems and yet silly as it sounds, I never fail to be surprised when I do fall ill. I’m a born optimist but I’m also a realist. Life is precious and I find it helps enormously to live life with a ‘carpe diem’ philosophy. But even the best plans gets disrupted at times…
Two days ago, I awoke on a Sunday morning with acute abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, fever and chills and I knew instantly that these were all the symptoms of acute diverticulits – I’ve been hospitalised in the past for treatment of this unpleasant condition. Diverticulosis is generally a harmless condition where small, bulging pouches (diverticula) occur in the digestive tract. It most often occurs in people who eat a low fibre diet, particularly those in the middle and old age brackets. Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula in the wall of the intestine become infected or inflamed and it can lead to serious illness. Now, while I might not be exactly in the flush of youth, I do eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, brown rice/pasta and brown bread. However, I also have an inherited connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which leaves me susceptible to developing diverticular disease. Rest and a liquid diet are sometimes enough to allow the intestine to heal following an acute flare-up but antibiotics may be required. The more serious cases of diverticulitis require hospitalisation/surgery. I had a clear choice last Sunday. Present myself at the nearest casualty department for assessment and treatment (in the war zone environment of A&E) – definitely not a day to relish – or stay in my own comfortable bed on a concoction of pills previously prescribed for the same complaint. I think you’ve guessed what I chose to do. Yesterday evening I thought I was seeing signs of improvement so having had nothing to eat for 36 hours, I decided to cook myself a boiled egg with a slice of toast. A couple of mouthfuls later and I’d developed overwhelming nausea and quite literally passed out, slipping off my chair onto the floor. I’m not usually prone to fainting so I think I gave my husband a bit of a fright but luckily no harm was done and I crawled back to bed resolving to stick to a liquid diet. It’s now early morning and I think I’ve improved a little overnight though only time will tell. I may be an eternal optimist but I’m not a foolish one. I accept that I may have to revise my decision re choice of care but at least I now have a further option – being a weekday, I can consult my own GP practice where my history is well-documented, rather than face yet another long haul being processed in casualty. An A&E department is no place to be with an acute medical illness and what with the state of the health service in Ireland, the chances of getting into a proper hospital bed are very slim indeed.
For the moment anyhow, I’m staying put in my own bed – que sera, sera!
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