Saturday, December 3, 2011

Are you ill?

People are always put-off or aghast when I ask them to stay away from me or to just stay home from work if they are ill. Let me assure you, this is a COMPLETELY SELFISH request. I don't want to get sick. I must add, though, that people that get others sick are VERY INCONSIDERATE. People without an autoimmune disorder cannot fully understand the pain that is caused by a cold or the flu. So let me be clear as to why a cold or a flu can be so detrimental to me or those similar to me.

Crohns Disease and Colitis are autoimmune disorders. Like most other autoimmune disorders, our immune system is overactive and continually attacks our bodies. No reason is needed. Let's add in a virus to the mix. I get to experience all of the great symptoms that you get to experience: fever, aches, pains, nausea, vomitting, dizzyness, headaches, etc. Now you all have a point of reference to start from. Regardless of the status of my Crohns Disease, getting the flu or a cold gives me an instant flare-up in addition to ALL of the symptoms that non-IBD people experience. Think on that, my immune system is so messed up that it is trying to eradicate me at the same time it tries to destroy the virus.

My fever is higher. My pains are greater. I get a massively bloated abdomen to accompany my nausea and vomitting. Vertigo sets in and my head hurts so bad I can only assume it is a migraine. This is my flu, this is my hell. Normally, I would be able to take prednisone when experiencing a flare-up but that is not an option here. Prednisone is an immunosuppressant and cannot be administered when a virus or bacteria is involved. My insides get inflamed to the point that the only thing that will pass through me is liquid. ANY solid foods will cause an instant blockage and send me to the hospital. Liquids do not sate one as much as solid foods, especially when they must be low residue and cannot be dairy. I have to subsist on tea, Pedialyte, broth/consomme, and water for several days.

Through all this, how could I forget about the diarrhea. I cannot be more than 10 feet away from a bathroom and then occupy 1-2 hours on the toilet each time I have to go. I spend 10-12 out of 24 hours on the toilet every day I have the flu. It is really a rather rancid experience for everyone within a distance of 20 feet and my rear end is so bruised and battered that it is bleeding from the continual wiping.

To top it all off, my internal furnace goes haywire. It starts producing so much heat at my core, but for some reason that heat doesn't pass to my extremities. So I am overheating and sweating on my body while my hands, feet and head are stone cold. I can only imagine that this is what being frozen to death in an active kiln feels like. It takes about a day or two for my body to get rid of the flu. For the normal person, getting rid of the flu marks the end of a painful experience. I still have to deal with my body in Flare-Up mode. This entails quashing the inflammation in my body and then several days of reintroducing my GI tract to MY normal diet. I am apprehensive to eat solid food in fear that I might set off a stronger flare up.

I really hope that this will hit home with some people. When someone asks you to stay away or to call in to work because you are ill, be considerate to everyone involved and do just that. Stay home and get better. We'll all be happier.