Experiencing a Bowel Obstruction With Crohn's
Last updated: August 2023
Having IBD is hard enough to deal with each and every day, and in my case, it's Crohn's disease. And with everything that we go through, we just never know when a flare will happen. The worst part of it all, for me, is the dreaded bowel obstruction.
Surprise! Your bowel has been blocked
You have no idea it's coming. But when it does, you wish it would end quickly because it could be very serious. It could lead to surgery or perforation. What causes a bowel obstruction? Honestly, it could be anything really, from food to strictures, or both. And it's because of a bowel obstruction that I no longer eat raw carrots.
I have had Crohn's for a long time (over 3 decades) and along with that, numerous surgeries and more importantly, bowel resections. With each resection came stricturing where the talented surgeons put the 2 new ends of my intestine back together. Knowing this, I try to avoid nuts and seeds, popcorn, and raw vegetables. Though, if I were to eat raw veggies, I would make sure I would chew the heck out of them to a pulp.
Crohn's + eating raw carrots
Then, of course, I had a huge brain fart. One day I had the "brilliant" idea to try and eat healthier with some carrot sticks. Within an hour or so I had a block. It started out with the feeling of nausea which led to vomiting, followed by abdominal pain.
At the time I didn't think much of it but it was soon followed by more vomiting. I started to get worried when I could not stop vomiting and it was no longer just carrots coming up. I started looking at the clock each time I had to get to the bathroom and it was almost every 10 to 15 minutes. Now the pain in my abdomen came each time I had to vomit. I'm not sure what was worse, vomiting or the pain from it. I lost track of how many times I was vomiting but I just wanted it to stop.
I think I have a bowel obstruction
Of course, I was the only one home and I did not want to call an ambulance for vomiting but I knew something else was going on. I was able to get a ride to the hospital and as soon as I got into the Emergency Department, I went straight to the bathroom and vomited again. But nothing was coming out. I am sure everyone in the ED heard me because as soon as I came out, the triage nurse called me over to admit me.
I knew I needed to get an IV into me to help my intestines rest but of course, the doctors need to do their due diligence and get some tests done. X-ray and CT proved that I had a bowel obstruction at the point where I've had previous surgeries.
Clearing the blockage
After about 2 days in the hospital, plenty of IV fluids, no food, and plenty of antibiotics and pain meds, in the middle of the night on the 3rd day, I awoke laying in my own feces. My bowels rested enough to allow the blocked carrots through and because I was asleep... Well, you get the idea.
I felt awful for the night nurse and she did not appear to be happy either because usually, the nights are not that busy for the nurses. The good thing was that everything cleared and I was home the next day.
No more raw veggies for this Crohn's sufferer
That was more than 20 years ago and since that day, I have not touched a single raw carrot nor have I touched ANY raw vegetable. I make sure I cook any vegetable down to the point of semi-soft, so not hard but not too soft. And because I now have an ostomy (since 2020) I still make sure I chew them right down to almost pulp.
Who thought that a carrot would be the (almost) death of me?
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