Sunday, August 26, 2018
A Love Hate Relationship with Medicine
I have a very tumultuous relationship with the medication Lomotil, generic is Lonox. This relationship changes periodically throughout the years. I take Lomotil to slow my bowel movements due to my Short Bowel Syndrome. The amount of Lomotil I require has also changed throughout the years in relation to how my body is affected by the medication.
During the 6 years that I had an ileostomy, I never took Lomotil. However, when I was able to have my ostomy reversed in high school, I required Lomotil to slow my bowels and help with my control. I started off requiring 4 pills a day and I would take these all at once in the morning and they would last throughout the day. I don't remember noticing any negative side effects such as increased pain or cramping. As that first year progressed so did my adhesions causing a stricture. I endured daily vomiting and excessive diarrhea that required surgery to remove the adhesions causing the stricture. For a period, I not only required Lomotil at maximum dose but also Sandostatin shots. But none of it worked to slow my bowels. I had a negative side effect to the Sandostatin after a while - it caused my elbow to lock. And I was forced to rely on the Lomotil by itself. Gradually throughout a year as I prepared for starting college, my body adapted once again and the Lomotil became sufficient in its job. Due to manufacturing changes, I had to change from the generic form to the brand name for continued efficiency. I managed throughout college taking the maximum dosage and remaining active, completing all the activities I wanted with minimal difficulty.
With my first full time job came new insurance that didn't cover the brand name and I was forced to change to the generic form of Lomotil. Manufacturing must have changed or my body changed once again as the generic form was now sufficient. And then I was suddenly able to decrease the amount I took until I was able to stop it all together for the most part. When I was having a particularly busy day I would take some, varying on the amount based on my activity for the day. As the year progressed with this job so did my stress level. The intense stress of my job wreaked havoc on my body and Lomotil was no longer sufficient even at maximum dosing - my Short Bowel Syndrome was out of control and I had to quit my job. I took time to heal and lessons from this job experience to better cope with future job stress without the bodily toll. Over time, I was able to stop the Lomotil once again and only take it as needed for particularly busy days.
Now, almost 10 years later and I have new problems - increased adhesions. My adhesions cause chronic pain and nausea and I hate taking Lomotil as it increases my pain while slowing my bowels. And if I take too much Lomotil for too long of a period, I risk intestinal blockage. So now I only take Lomotil when I'm having a Short Bowel flare or when I'm going to be particularly busy, such as for an outing or on vacation. I judge the day's activities and bathroom access for determining my dosage for the day. When I'm on vacation, such as on a cruise, I will take maximum dosage as I am very busy during these vacation. If I'm going on an outing, I may just take one or two pills.
The side effects of my Lomotil with my adhesions often causes me to dread outings and activity although I enjoy the activity itself. It's a hard balance to obtain between the bloating and pain that's increased by taking Lomotil with making sure to find a bathroom with any activity. My body seems to undergo periodic changes and so I await to see how it will fare over the next few years and what changes are on the horizon.
This is my life with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Short Bowel Syndrome. I was diagnosed with FAP as a child, underwent total colectomy at age 9. I experienced life threatening complications resulting in 4 more surgeries that year and developing medical PTSD. I had an ileostomy for 6 years before having it reversed into a straight pull-thru that also resulted in life threatening complications requiring an additional surgery the following year. In 2021, I required my 8th surgery to remove my gall bladder due to gall stones and FAP. This surgery exacerbated my, at the time undiagnosed, Abdominal Migraine which is now being treated.