Warning: Diverticulitis is Being Discussed

English: Diverticulitis in the left lower quadrant
English: Diverticulitis in the left lower quadrant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently wrote a post about diverticulitis, and about how I ended up needing emergency surgery because of the damage it caused to my intestine.

Excerpt from the end of the post, Joys of an Aging Body: The main problem with this decision, however, was that during the procedure, which apparently happens without incident MOST of the time, the surgeon perforated my bowel and once again I headed to the operating room for emergency surgery. I was not a happy patient.

At the end of the post I mentioned that I would let you know how I eventually fared, so here it the rest of the story:

I spent the next ten days in the hospital, recovering from the surgery and from a few complications of the surgery, including a build-up of fluid in my lungs and chest. But finally I was released and was able to go home, eat real food and sleep in my own bed again.

Now all I had to do was wait until the surgeon decided that my body was ready for the colostomy-reversal operation.

Colostomy Bear
Colostomy Bear (Photo credit: ethicalcannibal)

I returned to work, unsure of how I’d inconspicuously care for my colostomy during the day. What if the bag made terrible noises in the middle of a meeting? What if people stared at the bulge in my abdomen as the bag filled with body waste? How could I empty it and clean it in the women’s washroom without everyone hearing me?

I realize now that my concerns were rather frivolous in the big scheme of life, but at the time they were very real to me.  I managed, however, and after a few weeks didn’t think about my ‘buddy’ tagging along with me everywhere I went. The colostomy was becoming a part of who I was, not much different than my long, skinny feet or my silver hair.

A month or so later I had a followup appointment with the surgeon and received the ‘A-OK’ I needed for my surgery. It was scheduled for Feb 2007. Dance of joy!

Jelloshots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The surgery went ahead as planned and I endured another nine or ten days in the hospital, living on a diet of clear fluids and jello (Some of you will remember that I HATE jello now, and that it is because of my hospital stays. Even now, six years later, I can’t stomach trying anything containing jello, including ‘jello-shooters’ that are popular at parties.)

I eventually progressed from clear fluids and jello to soft foods and then to a regular diet, but had to remain in the hospital until my intestines began to work properly on their own. Then, just as it seemed that I would be released, I was diagnosed with a ‘hospital bacterial infection’, which required another round of antibiotics and a few more days of hospital food before I could actually go home.

That was five years ago. Since then, I’ve had a several more attacks of diverticulitis that have caused a lot of pain and have left me weak afterwards.

Each time I experience an attack I’m filled with questions: Should I go to the hospital? Do I need antibiotics? Will I look like a hypochondriac if I go to outpatients and the doctor says I’m okay? How long is too long to wait? How much pain is too much pain? I never know the correct answers and I second-guess my decision every time.

Last week my aging body acted up again and no matter what I did the pain wouldn’t go away. I rested, I drank fluids, I took over-the-counter medicine. Nothing helped, so I finally decided a hospital visit was in order.

After a few hours of waiting and after repeating my story many, many times, I saw my doctor. My worst fear (that he would want to keep me there and would try to force me to eat jello) didn’t materialize; he simply prescribed antibiotics and sent me home.


muscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel much better this week–I’m back to complaining about sore muscles from working in my yards at home and at my cottage, but I can live with that particular ‘joy of an aging body’ as I know it is at least a sign that I’m getting physical exercise. (Yes, I know that it’s also a sign that I’m out-of-shape, but one step at a time, right?)

What about you? Has your body begun to show its age? Do you have any tips for people living with diverticulitis or other intestinal diseases?

Until next time…cheers!


13 thoughts on “Warning: Diverticulitis is Being Discussed

  1. It’s 20 years this year since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. A few years before that, I was diagnosed with diverticulosis, which just means having diverticula in the colon but with no infection in them. So far, so good, with no diverticulitis. But two major bouts of ulcerative colitis in the 90s have left me with The World’s Most Irritable Bowel, and I suffer a great deal of pain. For weeks now I’ve been living on toast and water, with bonus meals of white rice, or pasta alfredo. Very few veggies and hardly any meat. However, we’ve just renovated our kitchen, so I’ll soon be able to get back to juicing my vegetables before I die of scurvy.
    Oh, and no Tim’s for me, even though it’s Iced Cap season again. I’ve had to stop drinking coffee, one of my favourite things. Occasionally I have tea, usually herbal, but sometimes Darjeeling or Earl Grey. Oh, yay.
    Kay, Alberta

    1. Hi Kay! Haven’t seen you for a long time! Hope you’re doing good, even with the troubles we have as we get older! My advice is forget the coffee and tea and go straight to alcohol! LOL. Just kidding, of course. 🙂
      I’ll pop over to your blog and see what you’re up to lately. Thanks so much for dropping in. It’s great to hear from you again.


  2. Sorry to hear about the rough time you’ve had of it. My mom did too. She didn’t share until long after the fact the times she drove herself to hospital because the pain was so bad. Lots of fibre and exercise is right. One thing she couldn’t eat was salads because greens stick to the walls or something like that. She avoided them and felt better for it. Take care of yourself.

    BTW, I MUST thank you for the yummy coffees!

  3. Oh my. One more thing we share in this writing community. In my 30’s I was diagnosed (after 5 yrs of antibiotics) with the worst case of Diverticulitis they’ve (the Dr’s ever saw in a person my age, Dr said it was worse than an 86 yr old man and it runs in out family as does colon cancer). Thank you so kindly for sharing your experience, Sylvia. You have heartened me lest I wind up in hospital for it yet. So far, so good but fiber and exercise are my two best friends and all I know to do to keep it at bay. Much love, j

  4. I don`t have any tips about diverticulitis …
    But I have some thoughts about ageing. Doctors will tell you that you need to eat well, that you need to excercise, that you need to quit bad habits and they are right. But if you never enjoyed going to a gym, you`ll probably go for a month or two and then you quit. If you like chocolate, at some point you are going to eat it again. And the list goes on. You have to find your own thing, your own routine. In my case, walking is more enjoyable than spending an hour in the treadmill, or swimming is more enjoyable than aquagym.
    You know what`s good for you, it`s about perseviring …

    1. Thanks for your comments, Ellen. You’re right about needing to find an exercise routine that you can live with–I like swimming and walking, too–this summer I hope to try snorkeling again, as well–need to buy a wet suit and flippers…won’t I be cute then? 🙂

  5. Thank you for your honesty in telling us your story. It is not a pretty one to read, but had to be even less fun to live through. I hope you are feeling well and will find the course of exercises that will help you. Get a doctor’s approval first, please!!!

  6. I don’t know much about diverticulitis except that a friend of mine has it and that certain foods set it off. I do know from personal experience that exercises that stretch the muscles help keep you flexible like yoga and tai chi for instance. I do some chair yoga exercises at home as well as just plain stretching exercises using a stretchy rubber rope. I forget the proper name for the rope – guess I need to exercise my mind more!

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