For the most part, I’ve been pretty typical in my Crohn’s symptoms and presentations. For the most part, I have now learnt – 18 months on from diagnosis – how to manage my pain in order to lead a good life. This might mean popping a handful of pills throughout the day to get my throbbing pain and my joint stiffness into order to work and walk and swim and teach and generally be myself, and that by itself is no mean feat. It takes some getting used to. Like anything does.
But lately, things have been heading into the general downward spiral of constant, continuous, there-isn’t-enough-time-in-the-day-for-more-painkillers pain.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a lump in my groin. Innocently drying myself after a bath or a shower, I forget which, it was what I thought was an ingrown hair or a cyst, both of which I’ve had before, sorted myself, taken some painkillers and used antiseptic cream and it healed on its own within a couple of days. This, was clearly something different. It’s in quite a delicate area, one which, given my weight gain from Pred, isn’t exactly visible so I sort of ignored it abit. This weekend just gone – after a Saturday in a sweaty shop and a Sunday of walking for a charity event, the area was so sore, I just had to get it checked out. So, Tuesday, at the doctors, my GP said it was an abscess. And it isn’t the only one I’ve got.
I’ve got a lump under my arm, in my armpit. It felt just like a very big spot, but it has grown and gotten redder and sorer and generally more uncomfortable. The GP prescribed Fluoxacillin for a week and told me to get it checked at A&E if it hadn’t improved by the end of next week. Antibiotics usually take 3 or 4 days to kick in and I’ve dutifully taken my tablets at the prescribed dose and time of day, giving me a usual earlier rise from my bed, a constant nauseous feeling in my belly and generally making me feel more unwell than I was. Even the Crohn’s has awoken and causes more than a dozen more BMs than I was expecting; all in all I feel drained.
The question now is; when do I intervene with my medication and call it quits, go to the hospital and tell them to sort it out? Yesterday at work, I could hardly keep my arm close to my body – and the shop isn’t exactly roomy, there is alot of time spent manoeuvring between things and people to get the job done – it was that sore. It’s painful to even lift my arm (you forget until something hurts, how many muscles depend on movement) and that feeling is spreading down my side and I had crushing chest pain (it was more discomfort than an actually shocking pain) whilst out. It was quite surreal.
I’m usually great with my management of my health.
But this is a harsh and painful reminder than Crohn’s can attack anywhere, anytime.
There isn’t any concrete proof where these abscesses have come from – my GP’s most helpful sentence whilst I was ironically laughing at my own pain, was “it’s just one of those things that happens without much warning”; much comfort that was – but can we point the finger at Crohn’s? At the fact I’ve been on two courses of antibiotics for infections in the last 5 weeks? At the fact that I’ve just taken myself off Pred because I’m sick of it and its been FOUR FUCKING MONTHS ALREADY (not angry at all, honest)? At the fact I’m in clinical remission again (really, REALLY GI, REALLY?) yet still experiencing quite bad bouts of diarrhea and gut pain (the type that wakes you from sleep or stops you from continuing breathing because it is so fucking shocking and unexpected, and unmanageable that way, to boot) 3 out of 7 days in the week?
It seems that the abscess is the icing on the cake… or is that too much of a dark, ironic metaphor…?