PCT Days 102 – 109
Monday July 24 – Monday August 31
I spent a week at home recovering from my Ulcerative Colitis flare-up. It’s the first time that I’ve arrived in Seattle and not looked forward to returning home. As I rode the light rail into Seattle from the airport I felt depressed and defeated. I didn’t really want to be home. But I knew it was the right thing to do.
When I got home the house was empty. Daniel and Katjia wouldn’t be coming home for another day. I wandered around aimlessly from room to room feeling at loose ends. Thankfully this feeling quickly passed and soon I was sighing with happiness as I sank into my bed. I love my bed. By the next day I was feeling right at home and happy to be there.
I lucked into scoring an appointment with my gastroenterologist the next morning at 8:30 am. He took me off the Prednisone (yay!) and put me on three new medications: Uceris (a different steriod), Mesalamine (pills) and Mesalamine (enemas). At this point I didn’t bat an eye at having to take the enemas. They’ve been effective for me in the past and I was pretty desperate to clear up my symptoms as quickly as possible, even if it meant putting medicine into my butt. Bring on the enemas!
I’m thankful that I’m covered under Daniel’s insurance as this medication is ridiculously expensive. A one-month supply of the Mesalamine pills (which is a generic drug, by the way) cost over $1300. You read that right – OVER ONE THOUSAND AND THREE-HUNDRED DOLLARS! After insurance, I only had to pay $40. Whew!
Dr. Carlson also ordered some tests to make sure I wasn’t suffering from any diseases like giardia which could have triggered my current flare-up. I had the pleasure of proving stool samples for 5 different tests. Ugh. I hate giving stool samples. Dr. Carlson wanted the results as quickly as possible so I was encouraged to return the samples to the lab with expediency. Luckily for me, I was feeling particularly motivated to provide said samples when I arrived at the lab to pick up my stool kits – but unluckily for me they did not have a private restroom for this purpose. I rushed to the public bathroom in the hallway and hunkered down in a stall while I tried to sort through how I was supposed to get stool samples into all of the tiny vials and containers which were provided for the various tests. Halfway through this endeavor, a little girl accidentally opened the door to my stall and stared at me, wide-eyed. I was on the toilet with my pants at my ankles and latex gloves on my hands while I tried to scoop poo into a vial with a tiny plastic scoop. I’m pretty sure we were both scarred for life.
Later that day, Daniel and Katjia came home from their vacation to Japan. They’d been traveling for over 20 hours and were utterly exhausted. It was so good to see them both! They were jet-lagged and I was feeling cramped and bloated so together we made a pretty sorry bunch.
Daniel I spent the next couple of days laying around and relaxing. We watched Netflix and I got out the Xbox and played Katamari. We went out for dinner and watched a movie in the theater. We went to a video arcade and Daniel won enough tickets to buy me a set of temporary glitter tattoos. I sat on the front porch and enjoyed the plants in the front yard. We cuddled. I did not do any hike-related chores.
One constructive thing that I did do this week is that I voted in our city’s primary election. I’ve been excited about the primary election for months as we will have the opportunity to select candidates in Seattle’s mayoral race. We vote by mail in the state of Washington and I was hoping that Daniel could forward my ballot so that I could vote on the trail. Unfortunately, the ballot got stuck at the Post Office as we had our mail held while Daniel was on vacation. There’s no way I would have received my ballot in time if I had been on the trail.
I did not tell anyone that I was in town, except for my immediate family, as I wanted to focus on spending quality time with Daniel. But I did get to see a few folks. My friend Julie hosted an Iron Chef-themed birthday party on Saturday and I surprised her by showing up. Daniel participated in the Iron Chef competition using whiskey as his secret ingredient. He spent the day in the kitchen devising whiskey-themed culinary masterpieces. He created gelatinous caviar-sized balls of whiskey using a Spherificator (well he couldn’t get the Spherificator to work so he ended up just using a syringe) and topped sushi with his whiskey “roe”. He also made a slice of whisky “jello” and put it a BLT sandwich, as well as a whiskey-infused custard.
I also got to see my brother Jonathan, nephew Ben and sister-in-law SaraBeth during my visit. We went to the park and watched Ben run around on the playground. It’s amazing how much Ben has changed in the past three months. Gone is the timid toddler who cautiously played on the little kid equipment. This kiddo fearlessly charged around the playground on all the toys, swinging enthusiastically from the monkey bars.
After being home a full week, my symptoms finally improved the the point that I felt comfortable returning to the trail. My symptoms are not completely gone, but I have no more blood in my stools and that’s good enough for me. I will have the pleasure of bringing a week’s worth of enemas to the trail with me, but I’m ok with that. Hopefully I will keep feeling better as I hike.
I spent my last day in Seattle reworking all my remaining resupply boxes – taking out foods I no longer like and adding in foods that I tend to buy in every town. In the evening we barbecued and hung out in the back yard, enjoying the evening. I’m excited to head back to the trail tomorrow but it’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m going to miss my family terribly.
I’ll be taking a week off of my blog as I head back out on the trail. Stay tuned for more adventures of Unicorn on the PCT!