my self care journey: the hospital.

More than your health can change when you spend time in the hospital.

Looking back, it all happened so fast.

Within a few short months, I was poked, prodded, and diagnosed. Ulcerative Colitis. Regular blood tests, even weekly at one point. A colonoscopy. Lots and lots of pills. Up to 20 in one day at one point.

I distinctly remember my least favorite test on the morning of Valentine's Day in 8th grade. Maybe the fact that it was on Valentine's day was what made it feel worse than it may have been. 

Barium Swallow Test. YUCK!

"Barium sulfate is a metallic compound that shows up on X-rays and is used to help see abnormalities in the esophagus and stomach."

You are made to swallow a super thick, chalky liquid. A fairly large amount if my memory proves correct. But then you are made to swallow a very carbonated beverage- and not burp! It is intended to inflate your stomach so the x-ray machine can see more clearly. To begin with, I've never been a huge soda drinker, carbonation was never my jam. But, the threat of starting from the beginning if I were to burp was encouraging enough to keep it in. 

I just kept thinking how my peers were eating chocolates while I was swallowing the most disgusting liquid ever. 

In the last month of my 8th grade year, I was hospitalized for three weeks. 

I remember my mom getting the call while we were on a Target run. At the time, there was a Taco Bell inside the one closest to our home. I was offered a last meal. I chose a bean and cheese burrito. Silly little Kim. 

The funniest part now with my meal choice is that I do not eat 2/3 of the ingredients in a bean and cheese burrito. More on my current diet in another post. 

Anyhow. Hospital.

No food for three weeks to give my digestion a break. At the time, it felt like the worst option. I was missing out on the end of middle school. All the fun events. 

Besides saving my colon, a lot of good came from being hospitalized. The experience made it very clear who my support system and true friends were. 

At the time, I had been very active in a Jewish youth group, B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO). My peers in this organization truly came through. Constant visits, even two of the guys sneaking in late at night, cards, flowers, balloons. You name it, they were there. Some of these people continue to be a part of my inner circle. Simultaneously my closest peers from school at the time were completely MIA, and the first time I can recall feeling completely betrayed by friends. 

What people don't warn you about during hospitalization are the fatigue and insomnia.

While tethered to machines, there's very little distance one is able to walk. Several times a day I made laps around the pediatric unit. But you don't realize how much variety of terrain you walk on an average day until you only have flat ground to work with. 

And the insomnia. Every twelve hours I was given a blood draw. Meaning once in the middle of the day and once at night. Additionally, there were several patients younger or in significantly more pain than myself that would make noise quite frequently. I attempted to keep up with my school work, but between the lack of sleep and consistent visitors, it proved difficult. 

One of my medications at this time was prednisone. A steroid. While it literally saved my colon, it is by far one of the worst experiences through the entire process. 

More on this next time.