Tag Archives: IBS

Why the Slow Start?

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Eating is something that obviously over the course of human history, can really easily get screwed up. Nearly everything affects the digestive system–nearly every drug you can take has gastrointestinal side effects on the warning label. Your emotions can both affect the gut and are also greatly affected by it–the majority of one’s serotonin, for example, is produced in the gut. Our obsession with our digestive tracts is obvious to anyone who watches television or wanders the extensive aisles of related products in any store.

I grew up with an iron-clad stomach. I could eat absolutely anything, and I did. There was a period of serious stomach trouble when I was 7, but my mother finally realized that it was due to having been on antibiotics the better part of a year and started me on brewer’s yeast and plain yogurt (appalling, both, but it worked). I considered it a point of pride that I went years and years and years without ever vomiting. There’s a Seinfeld episode on that very subject, where Jerry’s streak is ended by the dreaded nemesis of the black and white cookie.

I felt his pain.

I’ve had two nights this week wherein I didn’t wake up at 3:00 am and lay there, heart pounding, until 4:30 or 5:00 am. I’ve been very careful about not eating dinner too late and for the most part Gnawing Stomach has not been part of the scenario. I suspect I am breaking through the Propanolol, and considered asking the cardiologist if there is an extended release option for night time. But, then, I started having heartburn.

Why yes, Propanolol can cause that. Are any of you familiar with the syndrome whereby you realize something (Propanolol is relaxing my esophagus too much and causing some difficulty swallowing and acid reflux, for example) and yet you choose to deny that this is happening because you’ve checked with all of your internal registers and seen that the problem count is already too high and you just don’t have room for another one right now, thanks very much all the same? I am sure I am not alone.

The complex intersection of that with emotional stress is, I suppose, why I threw up until after midnight last night. I saw the new Shrink yesterday, and a lot of what we talked about had to do with what that person with the personality disorder is doing to continue to try to get my attention. I mentioned that it was my perception that as I ignore all attempts at contact and we get closer to the holidays, this person is going to find themselves in a greater and greater state of agitation and will escalate their behavior. The last attempt was about a week before my birthday in late July, messages on my office phone that I didn’t find until I went back to work. My cellphone already blocks this person and her spouse, as does FB, and my email address is also unknown to her. The new Shrink was very supportive of my position about not letting this person into my life again, and also said, “I keep seeing this image of you on a rickety wooden bridge with alligators below you.”

I will be opening my psychic business soon, if any of you are interested, because I walked into my house from seeing the new Shrink to find that this person is now using Etsy to message me. Turns out you can’t block someone on Etsy. The holidays were referenced, which suggests that I am entirely right about how things will go over the next few months. The new Shrink better put her boots on, as things are going to get pretty deep pretty quick around these parts. Like a fool, I ended my day with chile cheese fries and guacamole salad, and then I went to bed with a glass of wine….

….with what felt like a ticking time bomb in my gut, with fire racing up my throat and a sense that if I lay down correctly it would all just flow out like lava. Or….not. But it was an ugly feeling, kids. Like Jerry Seinfeld, I am not a puker. I know people who are, for whom this is sort of effortless, but I am not at all in that club. But there was no way I was going to survive the night with my ill-considered meal in my belly.

Around 1:00 am, as I lay with the heating pad on my stomach to soothe the turmoil of puking for hours, I realized that because my life is magical and filled with splendid coincidences, my shoulder was very angry about the festivities. Who the fuck hurts their shoulder puking? Me, that’s who. People with EDS, that’s who. So then there was ice for the shoulder and heating pad for the gut and restless sleep wherein I dreamed I was being bitten multiple times by mosquitoes (Oh, Psyche, you borrower of trouble).

The world in all it’s internal and external splendor meets in the gut, with all its alchemical glory. It does not, however, result in gold.

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Like An Old Friend….That I Really Hated and Hoped Was Gone Forever

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Gnawing stomach has returned. Like a pesky alcoholic neighbor with poor boundaries, Gnawing Stomach (GS) always arrives in the wee hours, between 1:00 am and 3:00 am. GS arrived this morning around 1:30 am, and finally at 4:00 am I got up, got out my script for Frankenstein and read it since laying in bed listening to the gurgling roar of peristalsis as my gut processed itself was not going to do me any good. GS was in good company last night, since Hip Pain, Back Pain, Ankle Pain, Wrist Pain and Shoulder Pain were already partying down when she arrived.

GS is like a small rat is nibbling relentlessly at the center of my stomach. Sometimes it is drowned by cold water, but more often not. Antacids do not seem to help, but someone took two extra-strength Zantac at 2:00 am just in case. It’s kind of like a switch has been flipped telling my stomach that it needs to begin the waves of peristalsis that are the normal contractions of the gut to move food through–but there’s no food in there. Said contractions are contagious, and pretty soon my intestines are singing opera and stomping their feet to the infectious beat, beat, beat.

Now, we got a little intoxicated yesterday and ate a very salty dinner, so that could be the culprit except that GS actually arrived the night before, with little fanfare and what seemed a much smaller rat whose chewing I was able to mostly ignore and return to sleep after an hour or two. That night I actually had less alcohol than normal and had not had as much salty food–although, to be a good detective I note that prosciutto was involved both times. Not that my body normally rejects prosciutto. [Let me pause here to say that I spelled prosciutto correctly without looking it up, HIGH FIVE BITCHES]

The thing is, about 3 months ago, I discovered that Chia seeds are the key to having a colon that functions like a normal human colon instead of a rabid, unpredictable camel. Despite all the other myriad blows I’ve suffered this year in terms of health, every morning when things (you know what I mean) happen, I am careful to send a silent “THANK YOU” to the universe so that my body knows I am really, really proud of it and would like to take it out for ice cream for being so good. I’ve considered getting a gold star tattooed on my ass, seriously, I really value normal bowel function.

That said, I now face a long day with a rumbling stomach and shaky exhausted feelings. I’ve invited Immodium to spend the day with me and work some anti-spasmodic magic so that I do not have to abandon students in the basement while I dash to a bathroom. Immodium and I used to be really, really tight; like, we talked on the phone nearly everyday and went everywhere together. Immodium’s a good enough friend that she was happy for me when I moved on, so I don’t think she’s behind the visit from GS, however….one never knows what a spurned lover might do.

All I know is that I need to figure out what sort of exterminator is needed to have GS ejected from the game–and preferably in the form of a lifetime ban.

The Facade

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“You look lovely this morning,” my husband said as I was finishing getting dressed. “Thanks,” I said, “It’s how I pretend that I feel good.”

Part of me feels like that’s quite the attention-seeking statement, because I am highly allergic to attention seeking. I attract, like moths to flame, people who are pathological attention-seekers and who would squeeze me into the tiniest corner in the tiniest room in the tiniest place in the world in order to demand all possible attention. Thus, my own sense of what is appropriate in terms of one’s need for attention is flawed the other way; I learned to take pride in being stuffed into that tiny corner. For example, there are some very stressful things going on in my and my husband’s respective familes right now, but when my co-worker said that I seemed really down, was everything okay? I was initially uncomfortable and then critical of myself that I let anything show. I have done enough work on my life that I was able to reply that I am very stressed and sad about some family issues instead of what my training as tiny would instruct, which would be to insist that I was okay, or, short of that, that I am simply “tired.”

It’s normal, it’s normal, it’s normal to sometimes show your personal emotional state on your face and in your limbs and voice. But I cringe away, fearing I will become the sort of monster that I have spent much of my life trying to separate from, even as more and more of them are attracted to me. Sometimes I feel like I have to shovel away the piles of narcissistic screams and demands just to get out to my car. I can’t say anything on Facebook without someone jumping in and taking over, I can’t go anywhere without being asked first about someone else’s situation instead of my own, more of my time is spent talking to my mother about someone else’s issues instead of mine. These are all things I work very hard at balancing so that I don’t find myself stuffed into that little corner; or at least so that I haven’t agreed to stay in that corner so that other people can shout over me.

My Facade is part of that; I don’t want anyone today to look at me and think, “She looks like she spent 45 minutes in the bathroom due to a huge IBS/Mast Cell flare-up and can’t stop scratching her legs and is deeply freaked.” One thing I’ve learned is that people do not look closely at other people for the most part.There are those of us who are keenly observant and empathetic who *do* look at other people closely enough to be able to pick up on their cues, but that is not most people. So if I have on a great outfit and makeup and my (currently, newly dyed) green hair, nobody is going to watch more closely to see how much I am wringing my hands because they hurt or rubbing my wrists or privately despairing that my gut will ever work properly and panicking at every gurgle or pop that I will experience intestinal betrayal while away from home. They don’t notice that my husband and child hold nearly every door open for me, they don’t notice my good friend gripping my elbow if she and I are walking over rough terrain.

Just as it is unhealthy to seek attention at all costs, it’s also unhealthy to refuse to admit that one isn’t perfectly perfect all the time. Having been in a life-long, tremendously unhealthy relationship with someone who is pathologically unable to stop demanding all the attention, I can tell you that the day I began to speak up in even the slightest bit, the response was furious and uncontrolled and savage. How dare I demand anything when my issues could never, ever, top the other person’s? Because it’s not a contest. Still, my reactionary position is to avoid ever doing anything that might engender other people to compare me to that person. So, if someone is wildly, exaggeratedly sick, I must present myself as entirely well. But that can’t work as a long-term strategy. Part of writing this blog is, for me, about staking out a bigger space where there is some room for me and I won’t be pushed back into a corner.

It’s unlikely that you’ll see a picture of me without makeup, unwashed and wearing the clothes I slept in, but it’s at least a place where I can say that I don’t feel well, I have pain, I am anxious. Even though I look nice.