One of the common co-morbidities of EDS is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have just come out of a long stretch of what, for lack of a better word, was a remission in that department. I was diligent and thanked the powers that be frequently for each day where I was not stressing out about my gut, and was careful to make no changes to what I ingested in order to keep the streak going.
This ended in Bisbee, AZ, at a little vegan coffee shop wherein we drank Chlorophyll water from a dodgy looking cooler. I drank very little, but it seemed to flip a switch that sent me into a 24-hour period of great unhappiness. No one else has apparently ever suffered this effect from drinking pond water (except my friend Dirty Sally, who did once drink actual pond water and paid dearly). Dr Google tells me this is possible, yet my traveling companions partook of the green water and did not suffer at all. I was the only person first vaguely nauseated and then up at 3:00 am with a gnawing stomach and undertaking a cleanse.
While most of that subsided, the delicate balance of the gastrointestinal universe was disrupted. This challenges my ability to avoid anxiety almost more than chronic pain. I have an instant catastrophizing mentality that kicks in with any minor disturbance. I worry that I have cancer (I do not, I’ve had that test). I worry that I have some sort of mutant parasite (no, I don’t). I worry that it will disrupt my life (no, there are handy pills for this). I worry that I can’t seem to just take the handy pills and drive on and stop thinking about it.
There is an odd track that my brain settles in at times like these, whereby a sort of intense, internal dialogue begins that loops endlessly. Part of it starts to monitor every minor shift, change, gurgle, twinge or lack there of, keeping up a steady stream of information to clog up my thinking. Part of it tries to shush the first part by repeating, “There is nothing wrong. You took the pill. You can now go on with your life. Go on. GO ON ALREADY.” But the obsessive brain is not easily dissuaded.
With chronic conditions that tend to vary of their own accord, it’s hard not to be stuck in a reactionary state. I want to be able to just say to myself, okay, this is irritating or inconvenient but there are ways to minimize and this, too, shall pass (ha ha ha). It will not always be like this. Even as it worsens at times, at other times it gets better. Let it be. This is extremely difficult for me to do, but I can see the value of trying. I just don’t know what it will take to jolt me out of that neurological rut that my mind travels in. I’ve never been able to turn off my thoughts, despite knowing that the ability to do that would be a huge relief not only for me but for everyone who has to live with me.
There’s always work to do. Also, never drink the pond water at the hippie coffee place. This much I have learned.