Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Misery Loves Company

Warning: This post will include honest conversations and descriptions that some people may find gross. Proceed with caution.

It's true. Misery does love company. Recently, I've been sick. Not the flu but some stomach and intestinal issues. They started with sharp pains in my lower stomach. It literally felt like someone was jabbing me with a knife. On top of that? I had trouble keeping food in my system. Even after I cut out all greasy, fatty, acidic, pan fried, deep fried, and raw foods...and even after caffeine and alcohol had been eliminated, the pains and diarrhea remained.

For a gal that likes to eat and drink as much as I do, this is about the worse thing that can happen. The inability to keep ANY food in my system? Horrible. The pain? So horrible that I don’t even bother eating.

Initial tests have told me nothing. Well, it’s told us everything it’s not. Not my appendix, not an ulcer, not my kidneys. Not a parasite and not a virus.

The hardest part about this? Well, in addition to not eating anything and not drinking? Oh and not knowing what’s wrong with me? Well, the need to stay close to home, or really, my bathroom. I didn't feel confident to venture very far for fear that my stomach would act up again.

The plus side? (Aside from some weight loss?) My friends. Of course asking if I had been to the doctor's, if I needed anything, what was wrong with me, etc. All very thoughtful. Many were worried that I had a food allergy. And even chimed in "What will you do if there's something you can't eat??" Seriously. Boy do they know me or what?

But a few conversations stood out for me.

First, with my friend Michelle. She had been experiencing similar stomach pains a little while back, and so I called her and asked her what her symptoms had been. She told me. And then she declared, “Dyspepsia. You have Dyspepsia! No garlic, onions, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, fatty food, or FUN for you for a month!” Basically described as your stomach having a sunburn, it’s pretty much the worst acid reflux you’ve ever had. Hmmm. Not sure it’s what I have. My pains were much lower in the stomach.

Then my friend Chris called. He was also recently experiencing some stomach pains a few months ago. “Tell me your symptoms. Sharp pains? Bowel movements normal? How often? How long have you had this? Yea, don’t think you have what I have. Think you’ve just got some bug in you and your system needs to flush it out. Hang in there.” Never thought I’d be going into such detail about my bowel movements with him. Much less while he was working (he’s a chef and I swear he was working the line when we were on the phone and that everyone in the kitchen was listening to this conversation. Hmm, awkward.)

My friend Tim was next. “Yea, I’m on my own Master Cleanse, just feels like my system and palate needs a cleanse. You? You eat meals at a regular time? Is it an ulcer? If not, just take a shot of bourbon, you’ll be fine! I’m sure nothing is wrong with you. Sorry if I’m grumpy, I’m hungry.” What was he doing on a Master Cleanse?? I can't believe he hadn't had any solid foods in five days. Some how, I didn't think a shot of bourbon was going to cure me (although I oh so badly did want some bourbon!)

Then my while out with some friends one night, my friend Evan lowered his voice and said to me, “You know, I have sharp pains sometimes after I eat too. Or there are times when I’ve got to run home to use the bathroom after a meal. Maybe it’s just a slight allergy to something. But does it really matter? Can’t you eat through the pain? Is it really that bad?” Umm. Yea. It is that bad. And umm. The pain is not normal! There shouldn’t be any pain. If anything, I want to figure out the cause of the pain. Then if I decide the food causing the pain is worth it, fine.

Finally? Chris called again. “Your pains came back? That’s it, you’ve got giardia. Tell you doctor that’s what you have, take the meds and it’ll be gone. But do it. Because if you don’t, it’ll come back. Have you been near any farm animals? Drink any bad water? Or beer from an unclean tap?” Umm. Farm animals? Not that I know of. (Turns out it’s not giardia. My doctor ran those tests too. No parasites in me!)

Geez. We were a sad bunch. I’ve traditionally had an iron stomach and never have shown any signs that I was allergic to any food. And now all of a sudden, this! And my poor friends…so many people that were able to sympathize and weigh in. So many of them that have had similar problems.

And yet? Despite the many attempts at a diagnosis? We still don’t know what’s going on. What’s next? A specialist. Stay tuned. In the meantime, to quote my friend Tim, sorry if I’m grumpy, I’m hungry.

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