Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bathroom Humor

When I was a senior in high school, I had an onslaught of health issues.  Actually, I believe all of the medical craziness started my junior year.  My sister had gone on a mission trip, contracted mono from a water fountain, and passed it on to me before we knew she had it (and yes, while it is the kissing disease, my sister and I have never been physically affectionate...but we would share food and drinks, so there you go).  Mono manifested itself in two very different ways.  I was basically lethargic and drained of all energy.  My sister ended up in the hospital with other issues that stemmed from mono.  She and I both were "home bound" for awhile...which was just torture.  She and I both liked and missed school.  But, we made it through ever so gracefully. 

The next year, I started having issues with my voice.  I had always been a singer, first soprano, to be exact.  I loved to sing.  My senior year, my voice would go in and out.  I would wake up one morning with no voice.  Other days I would sound like Rod Stewart.  And, some days, I would sound like me.  My parents took me to the doctor who sent me to an ENT doctor.  After a couple of simple tests, he decided I was out of his league, and he referred us to Dr. Kaufman at Wake Forest.  I spent several months traveling in and out of Winston-Salem trying to figure out what was going on with my throat.  At first, the diagnosis was nodules, then polyps, then cysts.  I would go on vocal rest for days with no change.  I had one overnight test where a tube went up my nose, down my throat, and into my stomach.  It had to stay in place for 24 hours, and I was supposed to conduct life as usual.  That was entertaining...imagine trying to eat a salad and swallow a piece of lettuce while a tube is dangling in the back of your throat.  That test resulted no helpful information.  Another procedure that was completely insane involved 9 needles...not flu shot needles, horror movie needles.  The needles had to be long enough to go through my throat and to make contact with my vocal chords.  I don't know about now, but when I had this procedure, the neck could not be numbed.  During this test, I had to talk and sing while the doctor inserted needles.  This procedure gave the doctor some direction.  The last procedure was the one that answered all the questions.    So, I was laid on a table.  There was a picture of a sailboat over my head.  The doctor told me I could pick what music was playing during the procedure...this was during my Broadway phase, so I asked for show tunes.  I had to be awake during this test as well, and again, nothing was numbed.  If you ever look at my neck, you can see a hint of a scar.  That's from the incision the doctor made while I was very much awake.  My throat was literally sliced open, the nurses pinned my skin back, and the doctor would have me repeat things to him and sing songs while he literally watched my vocal chords in action.  This is the procedure that answered everything.  We discovered that my left vocal chord was/is completely paralyzed.  So, my right vocal chord was doing the work of 2.  Over my 18 years (at the time), cysts and nodules would appear because of the overuse of one chord.  What was the answer?  Well, the doctor gave me a silicone implant in my left vocal chord.  This fattened it up and took a little stress off the right chord.  Of course, me in all my inappropriateness, started telling people I had an implant, but just on the left side...

That same year, I started having digestive issues.  I won't go into the details, simply because it is just plain gross.  During this time, I had a sigmoid scope, , endoscope, barium swallow, and my favorite, a colonoscopy.  Oh, and let's not forget the wonderful prep work for these procedures.  Enemas...just sayin'.  We found out that I had Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis...or, as my doctor liked to say, Crohn's Colitis.  (This is an auto-immune condition where basically the body attacks itself.  In my case, this means ulcers lining my intestines as well as inflamed/raw/exposed sections of the intestines.)  During my first colonoscopy, I was under "twilight anesthesia".  Apparently, when I am relaxed or my inhibitions are lowered, I become very inquisitive.  So, as I'm slightly dazed but can see the computer monitor, I am asking questions nonstop.  The poor doctor.  Afterwards, I was wheeled into the recovery room where I noticed I was the only girl and the only person under 70.  If you've ever had a colonoscopy, you know that air is pumped into your colon so the camera can make its way around easier.  So, the recovery room is basically just a place of flatulence.  Now, I am very southern, and very ladylike.  I kept asking the nurse to take me to the bathroom...I just couldn't get the air out as easily as the gentlemen I was sharing the space with.  I remember walking through the room to the bathroom thinking that this is what the symphony would sound like if it only used the winds section.  There are some things I would love to forget...

After my senior year of medical drama, I attended Mars Hill College for a time.  On the mirror of my dorm room, I posted pictures of my slit-open throat, vocal chords, and Mama was mortified, but I thought it was funny.  Oh, the warped sense of humor.  Honestly, it was like a protective measure.  Those pictures made everyone look at me twice...probably wondering whether or not I was sane.  I thought it would repel guys, but the gross factor reeled them in.  Who knew?

As I've grown older, I have had a variety of medical issues, mainly pertaining to Crohn's.  When my condition is active, I loose a lot of blood, I stay in a constant state of abdominal pain, sleep is almost impossible to achieve, and I have the tendency to pass out.  Digestive diseases are so glamorous.  There isn't a cure for Crohn's but there are medications available as well as natural remedies.  I have tried everything that I can afford to try.  I'm not trying to sound like a victim or drama queen...actually, I think God knew what He was doing when He allowed me to have these issues.  He had already equipped me with a messed up sense of humor, so who better to handle this kind of disease?  Stress triggers flare-ups.  Right now, I'm under a lot of stress.  I am surprised that I haven't been sick before now.  But, I am guessing that is a God-timing-thing.  I know it could be so much worse, and I am so thankful that this is all I have going on medically.  I have so many friends and loved ones who are dealing with physical ailments that are so tragic.  Mine is more inconvenient.  While I hope and pray for remission, I am sure God is trying to teach me something through this current flare-up...and I'm ok with that.  I just hope He throws in some funny moments, too!  I mean, who doesn't love bathroom humor, right Mama?  Seriously, I am ready to feel like myself again and to not be constantly tired and in pain.  But, I know there is a lesson somewhere in this.  So, I'll praise God through it.  His plan, His timing, and His faithfulness have proven over and over to make more sense than mine.  Just get me through it gracefully, Lord!

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