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What is Diverticulosis

My Diagnosis, Symptoms, Surgery & Recovery

Location: USA

Note – thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. I am doing well.

It was six years ago that I ended up in the emergency room due to extreme pain in my abdomen and was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a flareup of the large intestine due to a disease called diverticulosis. The intestine creates pockets that become inflamed. This is different than polyps often discussed in the colon. The pockets occur for reasons unknown, usually in people over 50 years old. Most develop the pockets in the lower left quadrant of the large intestine. Diverticulosis is the name of the disease, and diverticulitis is what the flareups are called. A flareup can happen at any time and no one knows why.

Some studies have shown obesity as a cause as well as a low fiber diet. Diets in the Western world that are low in fiber and high in carbohydrates create a high number of cases. Usually people who are fit and do physical exercise don’t suffer from this disease. And then there is me.

My Diagnosis

Diverticulitis

The day I was rushed into the emergency room I had spent the entire day in bed unable to move or even get up. I couldn’t even walk. It was a horrible pain and it frightened me. On that day I had no idea what diverticulosis was. I was grateful to get a quick diagnosis and begin to understand some of the things my body was saying to me.

After diagnosis I realized that I had suffered from at least two, and possibly three diverticulitis flareups in the past. I had powered through those, but the one that sent me to the hospital was the worst.

Multiple “Episodes” Since

Over the past six years I have had seven additional attacks (episodes) of diverticulitis. Many of these while I was traveling abroad. An attack puts me to bed, makes me constipated, creates a loss of appetite and makes it difficult to move or even walk. The pain is that extreme – it feels like a knife to the gut, over and over. While traveling I carried Ciproflaxin, an antibiotic, and diagnosed and treated myself when necessary.

New Information

Diverticulosis

This past summer while we are on travel pause in the USA we got a new doctor. He provided me some new insight into this disease and showed a deep concern for my future health. He told me that most people require surgery after just two attacks and I can count 8-9. He also talked to me in-depth about the danger of continuing to throw antibiotics at the problem.

No one had discussed surgery with me before. I thought this was a disease I just had to live with. I clearly had more to learn about what is diverticulosis. So on receiving this new information I began some extensive research and met with two more doctors for more opinions.

Surgery

Although there is much information out there about treating diverticulosis with dietary cleanses and changes, I knew my diet to be very healthy and high fiber. My research provided me a clear picture that my current diet and my lifestyle was not the problem. I lead a healthy life.

So following all my study I decided it was time to do the surgery. It made sense to do the surgery while I was stuck here in the USA, even though I was not very excited about spending time in the hospital during the time of Covid. I originally scheduled the surgery for last December, but again Covid was raging. So I postponed until this week.

Over the past months I have made sure I continued to eat healthy, exercise and keep my weight down to be at my optimal health for surgery. Even so, while traveling in the American Southwest over the past two months I have suffered from almost constant pain. So, no more waiting to deal with this problem. And now that I have been vaccinated, I am more confident about spending five days in the hospital.

I had the surgery earlier this week. I am extremely tired but feeling ok. My doctor tells me I will feel totally normal by end of May, although I can’t start running again until June at the earliest.

Making the Decision

If we had not been forced into travel pause due to the PanDammit, I probably would have put this surgery off a few more years. My doctor worried that a future flareup could result in a dangerous perforation of the colon and spreading bacteria to surrounding tissue, which would require emergency surgery. I definitely did not want to find myself in that situation in a foreign country. And the emergency surgery can be much more invasive than the laparoscopic elective surgery. It can also be more dangerous.

I think I made the right decision for me. But each person needs to review their own situation, do the research and talk to multiple doctors. Each case is unique. If you suffer from this ailment I am happy to tell you more of my story if it can be useful to you. But most importantly, talk to your doctor.

I expect a full recovery, although it will take some time. Thanks for your concern.

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