Acute Diverticulitis Diagnosis

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I am 47 years of age and was diagnosed with Diverticulitis on 7/11/2018.  In the last few years I would say that I have lost a little drive so haven't been exercising, gained weight (I am 6'4" and was at 260 pounds), and was not eating nearly the daily recommended amount of fiber.  Needless to say, pizza will no longer be my friend.  I went to the ER on 7/11 after spending a day at work with pretty severe abdominal pain - I thought maybe appendicitis.  After 10 hours and a CT scan I was diagnosed with D and given cipro and metro for 10 days.

My experience since then and research led me to here for possible advice.  I was on nothing but a clear liquid diet for 72 hours and then tried to introduce some soft foods as recommended.  That did not go well as the abdominal pain immediately returned and I did not eat a thing for 48 hours.  I went back to a clear liquid diet for 72 more hours ending on 7/22.  I have only been "eating" dietary supplement shakes and strained soups since then.  The pain is still there, just not as intense.  I am having regular movements, but it is primarily water to very soft so this has me a little worried.  I also feel wiped out due to the 15 days of basically no food and no relief in sight.  I have lost 25 pounds in those 15 days.

I have plenty of questions, so I will try to narrow them down.  Is it normal to not be able to handle even the softest of foods for so long with D?  Are supplementary shakes a bad way to go or can they be part of my diet (Boost/Ensure/etc.)?  I am almost afraid to try and eat anything for fear of what might happen.  I am thinking a follow up may be needed soon.  Also, I am pretty bullheaded and have been powering through work for most of this - I took off 2.5 days is all.  How long does everyone usually take off to recover?  

Thanks for any advice/replies!!

Andy

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  • Posted

    Dear Andy,

    So sorry you are struggling.  I can only speak for myself, but I could not have tolerated the shakes at the point you are describing.  I would start with bone broth, white rice, bananas and applesauce for several days.  Then slowly add in one low residue food at a time.  Google low residue diet for suggestions.  For me, highly cooked vegetables, boiled chicken were the first I tried, and then I kept slowly adding in more foods.  I still avoid corn, seeds, nuts, fried and spicy foods.  Hope this helps!

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    • Posted

      Hi Carolyn-

      Thanks for your reply.  I am going to have to just be more patient by the sounds of it.  I was/am tired of eating broth only.  I will scale back the shakes and see how it goes.

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  • Posted

    Hi,

    It does take a long time to heal.  Be careful and eat small amounts. Think the size of your fist.  You are wise to research.  I did not know what to eat so the minute I felt better I ate the wrong foods and had to start the antibiotics all over again.  I suggest you get a good probiotic right away at least 20 billion.  Ask the pharmacy for a good brand. My pharmacist is my brother in law and I got a good one right away and I think it made a difference with all the antibiotics.  Definitely drink a lot of water.  Walk some. You may be overdoing it by working.  I am a teacher and I missed 3 weeks of school, not all at the same time, because I kept trying to go back.  It really does take a lot of rest to get well.  Gatorade worked well for me the first days.  I have not tried the supplemental shakes because dairy type products bothered me at first.  My first foods were a boiled, skinned potato and boiled chicken and a soft roll, Not much at a time.  Maybe eat one of those alone at a time and see how it does.  Slow and steady is the name of the game.  Not too much of anything,  a few bites here and there.  Keep a food diary to see how you do with certain foods.  Greek yogart is good but for some reason it really hurt my stomach so you will have to see how things do for you.

    Hang in there.  It really will get better.  It takes several weeks but don't get discouraged.  It took me at least 4 weeks to begin feeling better, I am at 8 weeks now and feel great most days but I am still nervous about what to eat and I am very careful with my diet.  I had 2 setbacks mainly because I ate too many things too soon.  I am more careful after those mistakes!  

    Blessings to you!

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    • Posted

      georgie82565 -

      Thank you so much for the reply.  I am taking a probiotic, but it is not at 20 billion so I may have to upgrade there.  I believe it is only 10 billion.  I may try to eat some applesauce tonight and see how it goes.  I, too, probably tried to get back into eating way too early and I think it may have caused a setback.  I believe I did not understand the gravity of the situation as well as I should have.  It is very reassuring to hear from someone who has endured this and to get a timeline on what to possibly expect.

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  • Posted

    Hi Andy

    Everyone react slightly differently with Diverticulitis.  Firstly I would not be too worried about the state of your bowel movements.  You are putting virtually nothing in, so very little of any substance will come out.  Second, the medications are very strong, kill all the bacteria in your gut, good and bad, and disrupt your normal bowel movements.  Also they totally knock the stuffing out of you, so you will feel lethargic, depressed and very fearful of eating.  This is very common.  I actually take the same liquids as you - meal replacement shakes and home made soups - as they suit me, but they don't suit everyone.  Some people can't take dairy or any vegetables, even liquified ones.  I also have plain yogurt, scrambled egg, steamed white fish, boiled white rice, mashed potato.  But very small portions at a time.   It takes time and patience of trying different food to see what suits you best. 

    The pain can take weeks or months to go.  At my first attack it took about a month, but later attacks the pain niggled around for over a year, and I still get twinges.  You are only 2 weeks in so continuing pain is fairly normal at this stage.  Also the side effects from the medication take a few weeks to work their way out of your body.

    As for working through, I think it depends on the type of work you do and the severity of your symptoms.  I worked in an office and was just off the one day in A&E, then went straight back to work.  I remember being doubled up over the photocopier.  But if your job requires physical exertion it might be harder.  One thing you need to do is get plenty of rest when you can, and drink lots of water.  However if the pain is not easing, or gets worse, or you develop a fever/chills/temperature you MUST go back to the doctor.  Sometimes the infection is persistent and needs more medication.  However, even after the infection has gone, you will still have inflammation as you heal - the reason for the length of time it takes for the pain to go.  Under those circumstances medication apart from pain killers is no good.  But it is very difficult to tell one from the other and it is human nature to expect the worst.  Incidentally do NOT use NSAIDS pain killers - they can cause irritation and bleeding and make things worse.

    I was diagnosed at 51 and have coped with diet and occasional medication only for the last 17 years.  I am in the UK, where the procedures differ vastly from the USA.  Our NHS only operates in cases of emergency like a blockage, perforation etc or if the quality of life is very poor.  The USA tends to be chop happy, which is essential for some people, but needs careful consideration.  Best wishes

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    • Posted

      Felinia -

      Thank you for your very informative response.  My job doesn't require exertion 99% of the time.  My boss has given the tasks requiring any strain to someone else in my department so I am good there.  I have days where I feel "semi-normal" but it is definitely fleeting.  Not well enough to try and eat anything yet.  Thankfully, my fever was gone after my visit to the ER and has not returned.

      Based on your, and everyone else's, information I just need to be patient as I go through the arduous journey of getting healthy again.  

      Thank you again for your reply and advice.  It is greatly appreciated.

      Andy

       

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  • Posted

    Hi Andy

    How bad is your pain? If it is really so bad you can't eat please go back to the doctor/hospital. Liquid diet is only supposed to be 2-3 days max or you could throw your electrolites off. Also if you have fever that is not good.

    Start a diary of which foods cause pain and don't eat them again (says the girl who has pizza last night and is in pain today). You will soon learn what you can and can't eat. Potatoes are a good friend but no butter or marg. I personally am struggling with most fruit and veg cooked and do not go near raw or meat, oil, eggs or dairy. Everyone is different so you have to learn what triggers you. Please follow up with a doctor if the pain is still bad. That is what they are there for and better to go and have them say this is normal then not go and end up very sick. Keep us posted please.

    Julie

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    • Posted

      Hi Julie,

      My pain would be about a 3 or so.  Much less than two weeks ago, but still lingering.  I think I will be okay on not seeing a doctor again about it.  I think I am just maybe freaking out a little bit because I was hoping it would be gone by now and I could at least start working in some soft foods.  I did try potatoes, but I think I jumped the gun.  Thank you for your reply and support and I will definitely update my situation as it improves!

      Andy

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    • Posted

      Hi Andy

      I still remember what my first 4 attacks were like. I was so worried I would do something wrong. Now I just keep my diary going - foods, vitamins, bowel movements are all tracked. I don't track my water because I have always drank a boatload of water. I did up to 3 liters and felt better mentally. My last attack I had about a 3 pain for 4 1/2 months. I don't say this to scare you (I did not have constant pain) but just to give you a possible head's up, sometimes it can take a long time for the pain to stop and sometimes not.

      It is important to eat high fiber when you are better for the rest of your life to hopefully keep this to one attack.

      Rest when you can.

      Good luck!

      Julie

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    • Posted

      Good Morning Julie,

      Today is starting off really well so far. The pain has been pretty good. It almost feels normal again. Pretty crazy. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that the remainder of the day goes well. I think I am going to be able to try soft foods today. Hope all goes well.

      Thank you for all your information and I wish you the best as well.

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    • Posted

      Fingers crossed Andy! I hope the pain stays away. Please be careful when reintroducing foods. Soft no bigger than your fist or 1/2 a sandwich size. I would not do meat or cheese for a couple of days. If you eat animal products start with a pouched or scrambled egg minus any milk and potato mashed then tomorrow you can add in some cooked veg or canned fruit. With meals being so small you may have to eat more often. Listen to your body it will tell you what to do.

      I sincerely hope this is the beginning of the end of your one and only diverticular attack.

      Julie

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    • Posted

      Good morning. I tried just eating applesauce last night. I had 5 tbsp is all. So far so good. I think I will eat a little more today along with some liquids. Small victory I hope.
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  • Posted

    You need to make sure you are getting enough protein and vitamins.

    Ask your doctor about vitamins and 'Ensure' type protein supplements.

    I can't eat during flare ups and lose weight rapidly. Good luck to you.

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  • Posted

    Hi there

    I just want to say that myself included, and from what I have read others post and even speak to ......the dietary drinks, supplements are NOT your friend whatsoever.  I believe that most people with D become intolerable to milk products.  I myself cannot drink milk, but can eat most processed milk products such as cottage cheese, a few slices of cheese, but not during a bout with D.  I have been recovering from my worst bout since February a little at a time.  My colon specialist says NO FIBER AT ALL, no vegetables even ones wo skins, only canned fruits.   Little by little it is getting better, but it is very frustrating to say the least.  I have had 2.5’ near sigmoid removed 17 years ago.  Now it’s my lower right side.   Doc also put me on colon relaxer meds & time released peppermint capsules which I notice does reduce the inflammation of pain / ache.  And it’s water, water, water also I drink. The peppermint capsules can be purchased over the counter and are meant to calm any IBS. 

    I do hope you recover.  Resting as much as you can, although you most likely work.  Yoga breaths and total relaxation help me. Focusing.  I believe everyone with D also has a lot of stress/anxiety in their life.  Just my thoughts only as I listen and learn.  I have scopes August 23 to look at this new bout since February.  

    Good luck to you and let us know how you are doing. 

    This is the most wonderful & kind group I have ever posted to. 

    Jan 

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    • Posted

      Hi Jan,

      Thank you for your reply. I am grateful I found this forum as well. Everyone has been really helpful. I had heard of D before, but wasn't too informed. I had no idea it would be af painful, stressful, and debilitating as it has been. I have a scope in September so I hope that goes well. I wish you well in your latest bout and hope you find relief.

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