Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.

-Me

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Amazing Human Body (Yes! Even Yours!)

Six years ago, at age 22, I went into the local emergency room with severe abdominal pain. I remember being doubled over in pain on the couch, with my son crying hungry at age 7 months. I was unable to pick him up. My upstairs neighbor came to check on me when she got home from work because she knew I had left work early and she found me in this sad state and took me in. Well, a shot of fentanyl later, I was sent on my way home with instructions to watch for a kidney stone as that was more than likely what it was.

This was no kidney stone. I remember just “knowing” that it was not a kidney stone. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was not a kidney stone. They were supposed to send me home with something to strain my pee for the stone but I didn’t even bother to go pick it up. I tossed and turned with pain for the next night and eventually, the pain diminished into a dull ache in my right side. Eventually even that pain lessened, and within a few days I was back at work.

Around a week later I started struggling with severe back pain. I was calling my doctor quite a bit with all of my complaints, but each time I went in they could find nothing wrong. As things began to get more and more painful for me and I upped the volume of my complaints, I met with a urologist and he found that my right kidney was practically the size of a football (no wonder I was in pain eh?). He brought me in for emergency surgery to have my kidney drained and to do something with the supposed kidney stone (I honestly don’t remember what they said they were going to do with it).

Well the pre-surgery x-rays they took showed something much different from a kidney stone. They indicated a grapefruit sized mass in my abdomen, weighing down on my ureter, which was not allowing my kidney to drain. Post surgery (uroscopy) they told me about this mass and what followed in the next few months was a battery of tests and speculation that threw me into my own personal health hell. We did ct scans once, sometimes twice weekly, with and without dye, to try and get better images of this mass. The weird thing was, it kept changing! I had 3 colonoscopies, upper gi’s, lower gi’s. Barium had become one of my primary food groups!

It started out as what looked like a large solid mass, but over time it spread and looked like several masses looping around my small bowel and intestines. The doctors speculated everything from crohns, to cancer, to strange illnesses only mentioned occasionally in the odd medical journal. Approximately six months after the discovery of the mass, my final CT scan showed absolutely no sign of lesion or mass…The doctors concluded that because of my initial presentation with severe abdominal pain that had classic symptoms of appendicitis (although no proof of inflammation in x-ray), combined with being unable to find my appendix in any of my 3 colonoscopies, that I more than likely had survived untreated appendicitis. It was explained to me that after my appendix had burst my body had built a wall around the toxic infection and had slowly eradicated the infection.

The AMAZING part of this story is that this is a REMARKABLE immune system response, and essentially UNHEARD OF in patients in type 1 diabetes. I was told that less than 1% of patients with completely untreated appendicitis live….I was also told that this response is a footnote in medical journals and practically unheard of.

I had been a diabetic for over nine years when this happened. What I want this story to do is to convey hope to all diabetics. We may have bodies that are ravaged by sugar variants. We may have problems with appropriate immune response and healing, but our bodies are AWESOME! Diabetics have a glitch in how our system works, but we are intrinsically miraculous machines, and in light of terrible odds, each one of us is a miracle in process! Do not doubt what your body is doing behind the scenes as you struggle to maintain balance in your routine. Each one of us has a body that is capable of AMAZING THINGS!

4 comments:

Bernard Farrell said...

Sarah

Amen to everything you said. What I like to say to people is "Apart from two chronic illnesses (diabetes and asthma), I'm a really healthy person!".

The more I learn about our bodies, the more amazed I am at the wonder of God's creation.

MileMasterSarah said...

Bernard,
Absolutely! I could not have said it better! For each and every wonderful thing I have the opportunity to do with my body, I must give thanks that God has made it possible!

Scott K. Johnson said...

Wow! What an amazing story - and it is very inspirational!

I'm sure you went through a heck of a lot during that time (not to mention doing the "mom" thing too!).

Simply incredible.

MileMasterSarah said...

Scott,
Sometimes life hands you things that you don't expect, and you aren't sure how to get through. It is these times that teach you the depth of your strengths and help you to realize what you are truly capable of! I'm sure everyone has a story similar to this in many ways, stories that are just waiting to be told! Both to help the people in "the middle" of their own story and to inspire those of us who have maybe "forgotten" our own stories!