Starting over again in California was not easy . Continuing with College would have to wait a while .
I was always a nervous wreck , well not always actually , only when I had to deal with a new person or group of people . College in New York meant dealing with a huge group of people and the most stressful time i can ever remember , and yet I got through two years and did very well . Sitting in class I was relatively comfortable . I did not have to interact with anyone if I chose not to . Asking questions in class was just not an option for me , the question I formulated in my head would exit ny nouth as gibberish if I actually got it out at all . I kept my mouth shut and my ears open and was a prolific notetaker . If I got a B I struggled and studied until I got an A , I was a very concientious student . I vividly remember sitting at my desk at one AM with sweat dripping onto the English paper I was writing .
The Bronx is very hot in the summer with no air conditioner .
I've heard it said that there is a " Colitis Personality " Does anyone have any thoughts on this ????
In Ireland I studied Latin , Gaelic , French , Math , History , Geography , Economics . The methods of teaching were rather harsh and that is being generous to the teaching profession of the day as a whole . The philosophy seemed to dictate that knowledge had to be imparted to the student by force , that they had no inherent desire to learn .. Fear was the mechanism of learning in most high schools . Physical punishment and even abuse was common in all schools . Children would often piss their pants in fear if asked a question . They would piss their pants rather than interrupt the teacher and ask to go to the bathroom .
I will not make this a diatribe against the Irish school system , better people than I have taken up that cause . Ireland was not unique in this regard . Educators were not very enlightened , unfortunately .
This history may hold the roots of my lifelong struggle with nervous anxiety , I just do not know .
I made the Dean's list in The Bronx ( - in a GOOD way ) in my major which was English .
California was going to be a new life . After a couple of years of working in the San francisco area in construction I decided to get back into College and finish what I started in New York . My brother convinced me it was time and eventually I overcame the terror this thought instilled in me , applied and was accepted . . I would Major in Computer Science and Minor in Geology .
It was tough going trying to work construction and go to college , taking extra credits in the Summer session .
I was staying healthy and doing 10 or 15 miles a day on my bike and swimming so my health was pretty good in general . .
The first hint that something was going wrong with my health came almost two years after going back to College .
I was stricken for the first time while doing research in the school library . I got a stabbing , agonizing pain in my gut as if I had been stabbed . I fell to my knees and rolled to the ground unable to utter a sound . I was alone in the stacks and soon recovered and made my way home . Next time , also in school , I used the bathroom and when I looked in the toilet I nearly passed out again . The water was bright red as if I poured a bucket of blood in there . I just stood and stared , not knowing what to do or what to think . . I guess my
first thought was " I'm dying , I must be , I must have Cancer " . I got my head together and when the cramps subsided I left the bathroom , not knowing quite how to proceed . As I walked to the parking lot I saw the campus medical clinic .and decided I would ask the on-call doctor what this sudden appearence of this volume of blood might mean . The doctor was honest and said that he only dealt with cuts and colds and did not have the expertise to deal with this type of problem . He advised me to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible .
The HMO I was insured with has several hospitals in the Bay Area and the name begins with K . . I went straight to the emergency room , as the doctor had advised me . After waitibg several hours I fanally got to see a doctor . I explained that I had extremely painful cramps for several days and that I was passing large amounts of blood through my Rectum . He poked a little , prodded a little felt my pulse and proclaimed , you must have hemmorhoids , that's your problem . Red blood indicates hemmorhoids he declared .They must be huge , I said , because the toilet is full of blood every time I go and why would I have cramps under my ribs. " referred pain " he said . Drink plenty of water , he said . , bye now , he said . Off I went , knowing he was full of shit .
More nights of agony curled up in the fetal position on my couch . More hours on the toilet feeling like I was turning inside out , expecting to see my guts in the bowl when I finished .
Next time I called and made an appointment . This appointment appears to be a mechanism to keep people out of the actual hospital until they are in fear for their very lives . The doctor had an upper class English accent , I had an obvious Irish accent ( not saying that means anything but there could have been a stereotype problem ) . I explained my case and told my story . I was working all the hours I could in construction and taking a full load of course credits in College . He asked me if I drank . I said not much because I'm in College and working , I neither had the money nor the time to be partying and drinking ., which was the truth . He made some notes poked and prodded my abdomen , I don't think he looked at my rear , scratched his learned chin and proclaimed , " you are dehydrated and you probably have hemmorhoids , drink lots of fluids " , He took a little plastic packet out of his desk and said to mix it with water and drink it .
By the way he said try to cut down on the beer . I'm Irish , therefore My problem was from drinling . Another big waste of time .
At a later point in my life I ( overly )self-medicated with wine to ease my pain and get some sleep . Wine became a bad habit that got out of hand many years later .
More agonizing cramp nights on the couch , more buckets of blood .
Next time I decided I would try a different hospital - that might work ???? I called the branch in Millbrae ( south of SF ) and made an appointment , another four days of cramping agony , more gallons of blood . I was starting to get rather pale at this point and was beginning to feel a loss of energy . I thought I was dying for sure . Every day I could feel the life pouring out of my Rectum into the toilet bowl . Eating had now become impossible . I was much weaker and still had no answers . I had not eaten a decent meal in several weeks so I was looking pretty skinny and noticed my ribs showing when I showered .
A new tactic was required and I decided to go back to the scene of the crime , the labrary . I spent hours looking up medical books and Journals . There were not that many conditions which would produce these symptoms exactly as I was feeling them . My belly was not swelling yet so I was sure there had been no Perforation yet . I knew , however , that this could occur at any time without warning .
The only condition that matched the symptoms was Colitis , or possibly Cancer , I took the more positive choice , Colitis .
I decided to visit a third branch of this hospital , this one in Redwood City . Once again I called and made an appointment . This first appointment is basically a screener to keep admissions to a minimum , Once again my belly was poked and prodded ,my temperature checked , my pulse talen . Once again I had hemmorhoids !! and I needed to drink plenty of water , I was dehydrated !! . Maybe that was because I was losing pints of blood . I was too weak at this point to fight with anyone or argue my case anymore . I thought I would just keel over any minute and die . My brother was in Law school and I had not been bothering him with this little drama going on in my life . I had gone to this last doctor with my own diagnosis in mind , Colitis !!!! The doctor of course discounted this for some obscure reason , probably because of the fact that I had suggested it .
At this point all my faith in this medical corporation was gone . I suggested to my brother that I needed to see a private Gastroenterologist to confirm what I suspected and to force this hospital to admit me . He cantacted my other brother and explained the seriousness of the situation and he drove his station wagon to pick me up . At this point I was getting very weak and struggled not to faint as I went to see this final doctor . . He took one look at me , asked me a few questions , asked about the bleeding and inside fifteen minutes confirmed what I knew . He added the term Ulcerative to my Colitis diagnosis and explained what was happening . He said that my immune system was eating holes in my Colon , thinking it was a foreign body . He told me that he suspected that the ulcers on my Colon were at risk of imminent rupture and if that happened I could die a very painful death , If the infection was severe enough . He wrote me a letter to present to the hospital and sent me on my way . All I remember after that is laying stretched in the back of the station wagon with the back window down , everything was a little fuzzy and blurry and it was raining heavily , thunder showers . My hand was stretched out the back window as I caught raindrops and touched my lips to wet them , I thought again I was dying and I wouldn't make it to the hospital .
With the help of the letter it was agreed that I would be admitted . Tests were carried out , Xrays were performed , specialists were
consulted on all the relevant issues , IVs were started. and fluids administered . This all took place in the ER . My Sister-in-law and my two brothers left for home around 11 and were assured that I was going upstairs shortly . I remember nothing after this , I passed out from the pain . I woke up the next morning with my sister-in-law standing over me . I was on a gurney , in a hallway , alone . My sister-in-law went ballistic and demanded that I be attended to . All this occured when they knew I could perforate any minute .
When I eventually got my bed I was in a room with three other people which was fine with me . There are only two things I remember about my time in that room . Number 1 . Out of frustration at being ignored by nurses I took a full jug of water and using my last ounce of energy I threw it across the room at the door . This got me some attention and help . Number 2 . I was there for about ten days and I got nothing for pain for most of that time . I vaguely remember going into the bathroom . The next thing I remember is falling off the toilet with blood pouring from my rectum , as I fell I slammed a big red emergency button on the wall with my hand . I remember nothing for several weeks after that .
When I next woke up I felt like I may have been in " Heaven " floating on a big soft cushon or cloud . I seemed to be enclosed in a cocoon of white cotton balls floating in mid air with no defineable pressure points that I could feel , it was surreal . I was awake but I couldn't move . I could hear what sounded like breathing and I thought " that must be me " , but I was still puzzled .
I could not move and I could feel nothing , my vision was just a blur . My throat felt funny , as if there was something stuck in there but I couldn't cough . I couldn't remember anything about anything basically , nothing . I just was and that was that but I didn't care . I didn't have a worry in the world , I felt fine , I just knew Nothing and didn't really care .
The whooshing noise seemed to have something to do with me but I didn't know what . I was finally able to turn my head slightly and I remember seeing a black round object that was slowly going up and down in unison with the noise .
My chest moved as the black round object moved . I tried to breathe but I couldn't .
A figure dressed in white approached and I heard a voice " do not try to breathe , just relax and go back to sleep " .
I did .