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April 7th, 2012


02:06 am - Crohn's related from manuscript 2 of 2 (WARNING language)
“Fuck!” Marissa shot up in bed and clutched her stomach. Another shard of pain shot through her abdomen and she had to remind herself to breathe as she fought back tears. She pulled her knees tightly against her chest, trying to stifle the shear torture she was feeling.
“Marissa! Are you okay?” The groggy voice beside her asked, full of concern.
“I-,” ‘Deep breath,’ Marissa repeated in her head. She pasted a weak smile on her face before turning to Aaron, “I’m okay, go back to sleep,” she strained to say, trying to keep her voice even. ‘Great, I never wanted him to see this side of me, it’s so not sexy!’ Her breathing became labored as she thought she felt red-hot pokers being pressed into her skin near her belly button.
“You are not fine,” Aaron was now more alert than before. “Marissa, you are drenched with sweat and shaking. And unless we were just fucking in my sleep, something is definitely wrong.”
Marissa barely registered that he was even talking as she blinked, slowly, and concentrated inwardly on her breathing.
“We need to get you to a hospital,” Aaron tried to take charge.
“NO!” Marissa finally shouted, panicked. “No,” she repeated, softly, as she concentrated on breathing again, “Just. Get. Me. To. The. Bathroom.” She whispered, staccato, breathing hard between each word.
“Okay,” he agreed, gathering her into his arms and carrying her across the hall to her bathroom.
“You can put me down, I can take it from here,” she panted.
“Let me help you, Marissa,” he willed. ‘Why is he being so helpful?’ Marissa wondered, ‘I would’ve thought he’d be running for the door by now, this isn’t something that’s normally part of our relationship.’
“You don’t want to be in here, believe me,” she said, trying to give him an out, “Please put me down now.” She looked deep into his onyx eyes, imploring him to listen. Finally, he loosened his grip and let her feet land on the cool tile.
“Thank you,” she grabbed the sink on her right and pulled her way to the bathtub. She turned the tap until the water coming out was scalding.
“Can I do anything?” Aaron asked.
“Can you give me twenty minutes in here? I have a pill caddy in the top drawer of my dresser, can you have those waiting when I get out?” she whimpered.
“Of course,” he answered, before taking one last look at her in pain and closing the door behind him.
Marissa slowly sank into the too hot water, her pale skin turning bright red as all of her blood cells came to the surface.
‘Shit! I was hoping to never tell him about this. Who knew this encounter would last overnight? We are usually wham, bam, and see you later. He’s never going to want me again,’ she thought to herself as her abdominal pain finally started to dull. She started to relax against the cool tile of the bath, when Aaron burst through the bathroom door again. He was holding her pill caddy that held enough pills for the week, with four compartments each day, making twenty-eight places to store her pills. His face was full of worry.
“Shit, Marissa, what the fuck is this?” he asked, holding the caddy out to her. “My grandma doesn’t take this many pills.”
“I’ll explain everything to you when I get out. I promise, please?” she pleaded, the pain trying to creep back up inside her.
“Fine,” he agreed, reluctantly, “but the door stays open so I can hear and see you are okay.” She heard him take the pills into her kitchen and fill a glass with water as she, again, wondered why he seemed to care so much.
Just as the water turned tepid, she lifted herself out of the bath tub, grateful that only a dull, tired ache remained. After drying off, she slipped into her robe and walked to her kitchen, ready to face Aaron’s questions and puzzling worry for her.
She walked to the kitchen island and opened the window of the pill caddy for that morning’s pills, there were eleven of them. She divided them into two piles and popped them half in her mouth and took a long drink of her water to wash them down and repeated the step with the remaining pill, then walked over to the cabinet next to the refrigerator and pulled out her prescription acetaminophen with codeine and took it, too.
“Seriously, Marissa? How many pills did you just take?” Aaron asked, this time accusatory. Marissa sighed and turned to look at him, now dressed in his blue boxers and undershirt.
“Eleven, plus one more for good measure,” she answered. “I’ll tell you all about them.”
“What do you have, Marissa?” The worry returned to his eyes.
“I have Crohn’s Disease. These pills are supposed to prevent me from waking up the way I just did. I’m feeling okay now, and I’ll feel much better once the codeine kicks in.”
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“Most people haven’t. It’s an autoimmune disease that affects my entire digestive tract. It has some disgusting side effects, so I don’t talk about it,” Marissa cast her eyes downward.
“Autoimmune?”
“It means that my immune system sees my digestive tract as an invader, so it attacks it like it would a virus,” she said, turning back to her pill caddy. She pulled out the next morning’s pills and picked up one of the four turquoise capsules and held it up to him. “This is what is a called a 5-ASA, or mesalazine class of drug. It’s an anti-inflammatory. I take sixteen of these a day.” She heard Aaron gasp as she put the pill back and fished out one of the three small round white pills.
“And that?” He seemed genuinely interested.
“Prednisone, a steroid,” she answered matter-of-fact, “I take three, but only in the morning, otherwise I’d never get to sleep. The side effects of this one are the worst.” She frowned before pulling out one of two slightly larger round white pills.
“A steroid? Do I have to worry about ‘roid rage if I don’t call you?” Aaron asked, chuckling nervously.
“No,” Marissa laughed, “This is azathioprine. It’s an immunosuppressant. It’s also used in organ rejection for transplant patients.”
“Wow,” Aaron looked stunned.
“These last two are just supplements, iron and calcium,” she finished.
“So, how many do you have to take throughout the day?”
“Twenty-three, plus the pain pill I just took that I have for ‘just-in-case.’ My GI doesn’t like to prescribe them, so it’s a really weak dose,” she explained.
“You are so young, why didn’t you tell me?” he took her hands in his and looked into her blue eyes.
“I didn’t think we had that kind of relationship, to be honest,” she shifted her eyes to their hands again. “I didn’t want to seem undesirable. I mean, this is a pretty gross disease to have.”
“Oh, okay, I get it,” he pulled his hands to his side.
“This doesn’t change our relationship, does it? I love what we have, I wouldn’t want this to prevent you from wanting to spend time with me, that way,” she emphasized.
“Of course not. It doesn’t seem like I hurt you… right?”
“No, you do the opposite of that, but if you wanted to hurt me a little, I’d be okay with that,” she flirted.
“That codeine kick in yet?” he asked, putting his hands around her waist, pulling her toward him.
“Most definitely,” Marissa chuckled.

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02:04 am - Crohn's Excerpt from my manuscript 1 of 2
So I have to be up in 5 hours, but I don’t care. Jeffery told me he loves me, not adores me- loves me. I’m so scared. I’m going to miss him so much, and I love him, too- but I’m not in love with him, he knows that. I just want everything to be okay. I’m going to miss everyone, and I’m glad to get away from my dad and brother for awhile. I need to do this for my future. I need to do this for my sanity.
~5/30/00
* * * * * *

The morning Marissa was supposed to leave for boot camp, she woke up to pain and heat radiating through her body from her stomach.
“Gah!” she managed to gurgle as she tried to pull herself into a sitting position.
“Marissa! We’ve got to get going!” she heard her mother call from down the hall.
“Okay!” she called, through a strained voice, as she gasped for breath.
After a struggle, she finally rolled herself off her twin bed and into a standing position, even though she had to walk like a hunchback, her arms hugged across her stomach tightly. Slowly, she made her way to the bathroom.
“I’m going to take a quick bath!” She yelled, breathlessly.
“Make it fast!” her dad roared from the living room.
“I will,” she answered in a whisper.
“You’d better change your attitude before you leave that bathroom,” her father warned.
She tried to blink back the tears she felt, but the pain was too much. Hot tears spilled over her lids and sliced down her cheeks as she turned the handle on the hot water, filling the bathtub. She stripped as carefully as she could and sank into the hot water. The relief she felt was almost instantaneous, and she took a deep breath again, before attempting to straighten her body out in the bath and washing herself.
“Hurry up!” Her dad’s words sent another twinge of pain catapulting through her body. Her freedom was just a plane ride away, even if she was going to be controlled even more in less than twelve hours, no one would put their hands on her again.
“I’m coming!” she yelled, as she reached for her towel on the rack beside her and dried herself quickly.
* * * * * *


Thirty-six hours, one plane ride and less two hours of sleep later, Marissa’s stomach was now relentless. She practiced deep breathing techniques she learned from the one yoga class she attempted, but she still felt like her insides were being ripped apart. She tried hard to stand at attention, but overwhelming need to double over was proving to be too great.
She felt overheated, though Marissa was almost positive that had more to do with the Northern Illinois summer humidity and the fact that she was wearing military issue sweatpants and a sweatshirt. She felt her body start to sway. Luckily, her shipmates surrounding her helped her to stay upright. They were marching from the mess hall toward their barracks for the night when they stopped to allow another company to pass them.
“Come on, Masterson, you can do this,” one of her shipmates whispered beside her. On the last syllable, another jolt of pain rocketed through Marissa’s abdomen and she fell to her knees in a crumpled heap before anyone could catch her. She closed her eyes tightly and gripped her sweatshirt, panting.
“Petty Officer!” her shipmate yelled from behind her in formation as Marissa’s stomach started to heave and empty on the gravel coated walkway.
Marissa tried to focus on the man coming up beside her to yell at her to return to attention, but everything started to go black as she felt the Petty Officer catch her head before it hit the ground.
“Call a medic!” was the last thing Marissa heard before she succumbed to the blackness and numbness settled over the pain.
When Marissa came to, she was hooked up to an IV and was lying in a hospital bed on base.
“How are you feeling?” a nurse beside her asked, pulling the curtain around her bed for privacy.
“I’m not sure. I’m itchy, but I don’t hurt as badly as I did before,” Marissa found her voice to be rough in her ears. “I’m thirsty.” She tried to clear her throat.
“That’s to be expected, we’ve got you on some pain killers and some fluids for dehydration. Also, we’ve taken you back for an upper and lower GI series while you were out. The doctor should be in any moment to explain the results,” the nurse started to take her vitals and make notes on a chart. Marissa looked at the ceiling tiles as the blood pressure cuff on her arm started to tighten.
“Hey! You are back with us!” A man, Marissa assumed was her doctor, came around the curtain with a reassuring smile on his face. Marissa smiled weakly in return. “Well, the GI series and blood work were pretty conclusive, but we have to run one more test to be 100% positive,” he started.
Marissa just blinked up at him from her bed, her mind numb from the pain killers.
“We’ll have to fast for the rest of the day, and take you for a scope tomorrow, but I’m almost positive you have Crohn’s Disease. A pretty severe case, too, to be able to identify it before a scope,” he explained as if his words had significant meaning to her.
“I have what?” she asked, slowly.
“Crohn’s. It’s a disease of your intestinal tract. Not fun to have. We’ll try to get you stabilized here after we confirm the diagnosis and get you started on some medications, and then we’ll send you over to separations,” the doctor continued.
“Separations?” Marissa whispered, tears springing to her eyes.
“Of course! You aren’t healthy enough to continue with basic training. You’ll need to get home and find a gastroenterologist to get you on the proper medication regimen for you. We’ll send you with some general information and once you have a doctor back home, we’ll be happy to forward your records for treatment,” the doctor laid a reassuring hand on Marissa’s arm. “I’m sure with the pain killers, you aren’t getting everything I’m saying, but it’ll be okay.”
‘Separations?! I can’t go home! They’ll think I failed. They’ll be ruthless. What am I supposed to do now?’ Marissa thought as she started to feel the pain in her stomach creeping back up. She winced. Her nurse moved to check her pain medication levels and checked her watch, before adding a new dose into Marissa’s IV.
“Just relax, Masterson. That’s the only thing you can do for yourself right now. Stressing isn’t going to solve anything and, frankly, it’s not good for the Crohn’s. I could send one of staff psychiatrists by if you’d like? Sometimes finding out you have a chronic condition can cause some depression.”
“Chronic condition?” Marissa managed to squeak out.
“Yes, but we’ll know more tomorrow. I’ll leave you with some information about what Crohn’s Disease is and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have tomorrow after the exam. And anything I don’t answer, you’ll be back home in the next two weeks. Good?”
Marissa could only find the energy to nod as the pain medication started to take effect and she felt herself drifting off to sleep again.

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May 10th, 2010


01:09 pm - Making it!
I am getting there, slowly, but I will! I lost another pound this week- Yay!

PJ's recital is this Saturday. Crohn's walk is next Saturday. Then 2 solid Saturdays of sleeping in until the next dance season starts.

Half way through my first day back after a dust up of Crohn's and my annual bout with Bronchitis. Can't wait til San Tan Flat next Friday, even if I don't have the money to drink!

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May 3rd, 2010


12:57 pm - Feeling vulnerable and burnt out
I hate feeling this way. I keep hoping to snap out of it, but have yet to feel rejuvenated- thinking, perhaps, its time to step back and reevaluate my current level of involvement in things. I look forward to quiet evenings at home and dread the nights when I must delay my ability to relax and unwind.

Some soul searching is in order here.

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April 28th, 2010


04:04 pm - Is it safe to love you?
So many things are going on right now- its almost impossible to keep all the balls in the air. I'm doing everything I can to keep juggling. I seem to be working it out alright.

Attended the 2010 AZ End Childhood Hunger Conference and was inspired.

I got word I passed my CDM exam, so I have letters behind my name now- Yay!

I'm down 13 lbs from the start of my weight loss program- I am almost 42 days in!

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April 20th, 2010


10:01 am - boom chacka lacka
Feeling SUPER busy! And tired. Hoping to get to chill out more soon. Most of it is my own fault- not that I'm over committing myself, but sort of that I am...

Lifestyle, Fundraising, kids, chiro, friends, husband, DMA, house cleaning, bill paying...

Can't wait til after PJ's recital- I will have 2 weekends OFF!!!

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April 12th, 2010


10:34 am - Why are weekends so short?
By keeping up on my housekeeping, I didn't have a ton of chores that I had to do this weekend. I usually have to do a full scale double down cleaning from neglect during the week- plus 3 loads of laundry.

This weekend I got to enjoy and relax and it was still too short, cause PJ still has dance on Saturday morning and I ordered a Bountiful Basket. I got 5 artichokes in my basket, then Jade and I finished grocery shopping at Fry's- I was really excited that their artichokes were $3 a piece- which means my $15 basket paid dor itself in artichokes alone! Not to mention the 5lbs of red potatoes of 3 lbs of bananas, or 7 lbs of apples, etc- you get the idea.

Yesterday marked my 21st day of my new eating habits and my weight loss has been 10 lbs- and the change wasn't that drastic! I am super proud of myself and totally motivated to keep it upi because I feel great- better than I have in a LONG time.

Today starts the next 21 days. WOO!

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April 8th, 2010


01:19 pm - Learning to relax
So for the last week, I've closed myself up in my office for my last 30 minutes of lunch, turn off the light, put my feet up and practice deep breathing. It has really helped me meet the rest of my day with a ton more gusto. I can't explain how amazing it feels just to let go for just 30 minutes. I have made some real changes for the better and feel really good. I hope to continue these into the future. I am on day 18 of changing my eating habits.

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April 5th, 2010


04:20 pm - sometimes I feel like a broken record
I feel like I have to repeat myself a lot. It's okay though, cause it is usually not to the same person, it happens when council people on nutrition, since it's generally the same advice- but applied differently depending on the person. But it helps to make that information second nature. I can't WAIT til the new dietary guidelines come out in the fall. Man, that makes me sound nerdy.

I'm also trying everything to keep encouraging Jeremy to keep plugging along in college. I am so proud of what he's doing and try my best to support him in any way I can. He doesn't have that much of his associates left. I can't wait for him to start his ASU program and get where he wants to be. I love him.

Easter was great- and super full! I am so grateful to our friends and family. The girls had a great day too. I just wish I could've had another weekend!

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March 24th, 2010


11:41 am - wow- 2 years later?
So...a ton has happened since my last entry- obviously... I finally finished at ASU and am running a food bank in Southeast Scottsdale. I can't express how much I love it. I come to work everyday and know that I am making a difference in the lives of the community members I serve. The best part is that it is a government job with excellent benefits. Plus, I am able to grow the program how I see fit. I've already added a nutrition education program and work with other parts of the government.

I lost my kitty, Monkey, to kidney disease in January and I lost my sister-in-law, Raeann to pneumonia in February. The family is pushing on, though we miss her a great deal.

I've decided to return because I miss journalling and sometimes need a place to get it all out. Holla at me if you are still around!

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