Barium milkshake anyone?

So, I haven’t been feeling very well lately.  This week, I thought I had the flu, but it’s looking suspiciously like a potential Crohn‘s relapse.  I’ve been denying some pains over the past few months, trying to attribute them to another intestinal malady that’s very common..IBS, but after the past three days of excruciating pain I realize I’ve been deluding myself.

Even so, I’m trying to stay positive and convince myself that I do have a really weird case of the flu or sporadic food poisoning.  How often do you hear someone wish for the flu or food poisoning??

Come on FLU!  GOOOOO salmonella!

It’s not looking good.

Of course I jumped to it and called my doctor for an appointment…which is scheduled for August of 2010, but I’m hoping to get in in the next two weeks.  I’m being proactive and asking for a barium test BEFORE I see him since I know that’s what he’ll want to do.  That, and put me back on Remicade, which he thinks I should have never stopped.  *sigh* I must have gotten weak in my two healthy years because I’m in a lot of pain and the thoughts of 4 hour IV treatments every 8 weeks isn’t so bad.

I had an amazing pain threshold before if I was able to handle this pain level pretty regularly.  At least maybe I’ll lose weight from all the nausea. To my Biggest Loser competitors: Does that count as cheating?

Come on FLU! GOOOO salmonella!!

Me asking for a barium test is like Satan asking for a holy water popsicle.  I hate hate hate that test.  It makes me want to throw up.  Violently (I’ve never actually thrown up because of it.  I’ve come close…)  If it will let me know where my intestines stand, I suppose I’ll put up with it.  I’ve been trying to convince my doctor to let me swallow that little camera, but he’s never really gone for it.  You’d think they could invent a barium pill that you swallow, drink a ton of water and it dissolves in your stomach so you don’t have to taste that crappy stuff.  Even fruit flavored it’s disgusting.

The second to last time I had to do this test (June 2005) something funny happened.  Well, at the time it wasn’t funny…humiliating is more like it, but as time passed and healed old wounds, it became funny.  I was sitting in the waiting room at 8am having just been handed the first batch of barium-deliciousness. I was scowling at it like I usually do for the first 10 minutes.  I have to use a straw because I can’t let the barium touch any part of my mouth so it took quite a while to get the first sips down.

I know I’m a baby…it’s ok.

As I’m sitting there  s l o w l y sipping away (and obsessively wiping my mouth every time) an elderly lady came into the waiting area with her own barium bottles.  She was accompanied by her daughter who was helping her get settled.  By this time, I’ve only managed to drink about 3/4 of my first batch, knowing I have  a second one coming.  It was not going well.  This lady who can’t even open the bottle herself waves away the cup and straw and proceeds to chug the entire bottle in  about 35 seconds.  It was like watching a freak of nature.  Then as I sadly look at my remaining batch, I watch her gesture for the other bottle.  Within 2 minutes she had downed both bottles and I was still nursing my first one…going on 35 minutes.  Of course I was embarrased and shamed.  I just moved to the corner where I could sip in peace and not be influenced by others.

I’ve had 6 barium tests in my life.  The first one took me 4 hours to drink.  They finally came in and told me if I didn’t drink faster I would have to start over.  That worked.  Each one has gotten progressively quicker with the one above taking 1.5 hours and the last one (January 2006 if you’re wondering) taking only 35 minutes to finish two bottles.  Yay!  Yes the memories of that lady kept me going strong.

This is what it looks like, in case you’re wondering.  Usually, I have to drink TWO of these.  With a straw.  And a gag napkin.  Not pleasant.

This is what it makes your insides look like.  This is an xray of a person with Crohn’s in the small intestine (like me.)  The arrows are pointing to a narrowed area that’s inflamed.

Crohn’s is an auto immune disease affecting the GI tract.  Basically, for some unknown reasons, inflamation builds up inside the intestines causing them to swell and close up, causing blockages.  This is what causes the abdominal cramps and pain.  Obviously…things can’t get through.  You can see on this xray via the arrows the small intestine has virtually swollen shut (not the technical term, but the easiest to understand)

This is not a picture of my intestines (those are upstairs on a CD…wasn’t sure if it was an overshare) but this is a good example.  My previous affected area was where the small and large intestines meet.  That’s where I had 12 inches of small intestine removed 2 years ago.

I know I’m complaining about a disease I knew was chronic and would eventually resurface , I was just  hoping for more than 2 years before it came roaring back.  It could be worse, I’m well aware that people out there suffer more than me.  Once I know for sure my status, I’ll be able to better deal with it (or once I’m able to handle the pain level it will be easier, too).  I’m just disappointed and frustrated and in pain.

Having said that, I’m very thankful that I’ve had two pain-free years and an intensive surgery and recover that were astonishing.

Even so, I ask you to join me in this very important plea:

Come on Flu!!! GOOOOO salmonella!

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6 Responses to Barium milkshake anyone?

  1. Jennifer Dembowski says:

    Ha… I had to swallow a bit o the Barium this morning at my fill and watch it pass thru my lap band. You really would think they could come up with something better. However, having had a barium enema, i have to say, maybe swallowing it isn’t the worst option. Is that TMI? oh well.

  2. Well crap.


    I have such a quick gag reflex I cold never drink that stuff. I bet that lady has done enough of them to know that if you just down it, you don’t prolong it. It is over quicker. I’ve never drank the stuff but in my mind it tastes like chalk.

  3. Val says:

    Oh CRAP – NOT AGAIN – NOT SO SOON. Damn, damn and double damn.

  4. Val says:

    Now I know why I haven’t heard from you lately. Damn again.

  5. z- lifeguard says:

    ive had one before. didnt really mind it. i dared to ask for another and the nurse looked at me strange, brought one back, said “do you honestly like these” i said sure, and she ran to the bathroom… i do like them though.

  6. SparkySprite says:

    This milkshake does not bring all the boys to the yard! But seriously, I had to drink the barium milkshake today, to be tested to find out why my IBS is sucking so bad. Your blog made me giggle! The other awesome side effect is the fact that you have white poop for the next 24 hours or so.

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