Have you ever heard of diverticulitis? Probably not...even though it's a fairly common disorder. Even though my own father had it--and had surgery for it twice in the months before he died--I didn't recognize the warning signs when I developed it myself in recent months.
Until he retired, Dad was healthy and in excellent physical condition for his age. After retirement, however, everything changed. Becoming a dedicated couch potato meant weight gain, high blood pressure, and what Mom and I suspected might be the start of a rather angry ulcer. Dad was never without a bottle of Maalox. He stopped using a spoon and just drank straight from the bottle. I suggested using a straw. Mom and I got him a case of the stuff at the discount pharmacy (I see they're selling it on Amazon now--where was Amazon when we needed them?). We demanded to know if he was holding out on us, if he secretly owned stock in the company!
The jokes stopped the night he doubled over in so much pain he had to be taken to the hospital and was admitted for surgery.Part of his colon had to be removed. It was so inflamed, he was given a temporary colostomy to allow it time to heal. A week after the second surgery to reverse the colostomy, he died.
To be clear, diverticulitis didn't kill him...but it can be a nasty business. Case in point: pro wrestler and former MMA fighter Brock Lesnar, who was sidelined by it.
I suppose I didn't make the connection when it happened to me because my own symptoms were so much more subtle...at first. I'd had a couple of bouts of what I though might have been the result of bad food choices. There was the occasional momentary extreme nausea that never quite resulted in vomiting, the unexplained abdominal tenderness...but it was all temporary, and even though I'd made a note to mention it to my doctor, I never quite got around to doing so.
Until a few days ago.
We'd had a small get-together for Collin's birthday. I'd gotten him a cheesecake sampler--gotta love a good cheesecake. I felt fine. No problems. That night, I woke a little after midnight with cramps. I went into the bathroom. It was so sudden--but even so, I would not have bothered to call the doctor, had it not been for the blood. That scared me enough to want to find out what was wrong.
For the next twenty-four hours, I was unable to sit up for more than a few minutes at a time and could barely make it to the bathroom. I couldn't eat and took in only a little fluid. By the time I saw my doctor, two days later, I'd lost twelve pounds.
I was given a list of instructions and two prescriptions for antibiotics. A referral to a gastroenterologist is forthcoming. I'm slowly getting back to normal and wondering what life without macadamias and cashews is going to be like....