Monday, March 02, 2009

The Ordeal of a Friend, Struck Down by Colitis

I have a colleague from work who has been ill for three months. He developed ulcerative colitis shortly after returning from a trip to Malaysia. He was on steroids for two months, but his condition worsened and his GI doc told him to go to the ER. My friend found himself in the hospital being fed intravenously and having blood transfusions while being pumped full of more steroids. Two weeks later, they did a biopsy because the steroids weren't working and declared that he had CMV of the GI tract. CMV is the virus that causes mononucleosis. Having CMV of the GI tract is very, very rare, rarer than a lightning strike. One and a half weeks later they put him on a TNF-alpha blocking medicine that is mildly immunosuppressive. He and everyone else thought that he was improving. He actually felt better. But he collapsed in the bathroom on Thursday and the doctors knew something was wrong. They did a CT scan and saw that his colon had microperforations. It was leaking gas and likely contents into his abdomen. The next stage is peritonitis, followed by sepsis, then death. A GI doc came in Friday morning and scared my friend to death. He basically told him that he'd have to have his colon removed or he'd die. There was no sugar coating of the truth, no wonderful bedside manner, just the stark, plain truth. My friend went from believing that he'd be leaving the hospital to being told that he'd have to have his colon removed, or he'd die. Needless to say, this news shattered him psychologically. He's only thirty years old, and he was healthy until now. He has the best surgeon available in the area. They gave him a fourth blood transfusion Saturday to prepare him for surgery. He's also being pumped full of antibiotics to prevent peritonitis. Because of his condition, he'll have to have three surgeries. The first is a total colectomy.and an ileostomy. Three months later, after he has healed, his rectum will be carefully removed and a j-pouch will be created. After another three months of healing, the j-pouch will be connected to his anus and he'll have a fairly normal life. He won't be back to work for at least 8-12 months depending upon how he heals. Pray for my friend, Rich Desai. He goes into surgery at 12:45 P.M. today.

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Comments:
Hi John

O dear. If it weren't so serious I'd say this is a job for House.

While I'm not conventionally religious I've told the spiritual force that it is not benevolent by letting this happen. It now must make amends by granting your friend the best possible result.

I also had a work colleague that had a severe illness at 30. The final result was not good but the stop/start runup to that result was the worst thing - fairly traumatic to many in my workplace. So I know what you may be going through.

I hope your friend has full medical insurance.

Regards

Pete
 
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