Part VI – First Hospitalization

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My first hospitalization from my second ulcerative colitis flare and my experience with bowel rest and edema

Although my first hospitalization happened on October 17, 2014, I’m just getting to writing about it now. Healing is hard. And it’s even harder when you almost immediately go into another flare. But more on that later.

My First Hospitalization, October 17th-21st 2014

I was in the ER for about five hours and then admitted to the hospital. This was my first experience being hospitalized and I hope I don’t have to repeat it. It wasn’t a nightmare and I loved my nurses and the fact that I had a room to myself but never again.

Spoiler alert: I’ve been hospitalized many times.


Bowel Rest

For three days I could not have anything by mouth. This was to facilitate bowel rest and it was absolute torture. I am someone who drinks the recommended amount of water per day because I’m always thirsty. Not being able to sip on water throughout the day was a constant nagging annoyance that drove me crazy.

Also, my lips began to get really chapped and they would stick to my teeth. So I would smile sometimes and then try to close my mouth and part of my lip would get stuck. It was funny and a little creepy looking.

I did catch up on a lot of sleep though. Every time the nurses shot me up with steroids and opioids I would get really sleepy and drift off to la-la land. The stress on my body was greatly reduced while in the hospital so that’s why it wasn’t so horrible. My body was hydrated for once, not having anything by mouth really gave my bowels a rest, and pain medication made it possible to sleep.

I had to record all the times I went to the bathroom. Once the number fell to an acceptable level (three) they let me have liquids again. Hallelujah. To prove I could have solids, I had to go through the same process.


Midway through my five-day stay, I noticed that I was swelling up. The wrist band was getting really tight, my hands were swollen, and my knees were gargantuan. When I would get up to walk around I felt like a water bed.

My nurses kept encouraging me to get up and walk around. But I didn’t want to. I can’t remember if any of them explained why walking was so important. Every time the nurses would go through a shift change, they’d lift up my bed covers and gown to check my ankles and knees. They would also listen to my lungs.

Eventually, I learned that they were checking for signs of edema, a medical term for swelling. Excess fluid collects in the tissues of your body as a result of leakage from capillaries. When this happens in the lungs, or pulmonary edema, it can be very dangerous and life-threatening.

Towards the end of my stay, I often felt like someone was sitting on my chest and it was more difficult to breathe. It also felt…wet. Being released from the hospital on the fifth-day mid-afternoon prevented the situation from getting worse.

And during my other hospitalizations, I listened to my nurses and walked. I walk so much when I’m hospitalized that nurses tease me and ask how many laps I’ve done. Because it really is the best protection against edema and makes the overall recovery easier.

After I was released, I spent the whole rest of the week sleeping and losing all the excess water. And then the prednisone started kicking in.

My story continues in Part VII – Being on Prednisone for My Second UC Flare Recovery

My Whole UC Story

You can read my ulcerative colitis story in order or you can browse all my ulcerative colitis and health-related posts here:

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