I was very determined to figure out what was going on with my digestive issues. As I told you in my last post I have had stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea and weakness for over twenty years. My symptoms were getting worse. I also started having stomach cramps and more bad days than good days.
I already had a colonoscopy. The next procedure on the list was an upper endoscopy. Compared to the colonoscopy the endoscopy was a walk in the park. I’m glad I decided to have the worst of the two first. My upper endoscopy went well. It did show that I have acid reflux. So add that to my symptom list; I have heartburn most nights now.
The next recommended procedure was the Pill Cam. This is a tiny camera that you swallow and it takes thousands of pictures of your small intestine. It was a painless procedure. I went in one morning and swallowed the pill, they placed a small strap around my waist that holds a recorder and the photo shoot began.
Later that afternoon I returned to the doctor’s office to turn in the recorder and belt. The camera comes out….um, naturally.
Five days before Christmas my Gastroenterologist called and left a message on my answering machine with the results from the Pill Cam test. He informs me that I have ulcers in my ileum or small intestine. He states that two things cause ulcers in this area; taking NSAIDs such as Aleve and Ibuprofen or Crohn’s disease. He knew that I don’t take NSAIDs so he said that he is worried that I have Crohn’s disease.
I played the message over and over. I listened closely to every word that he said. But I decided to put this news in the back of my mind and enjoy my Christmas holiday as much as possible.
In a way I was relieved. I finally have answers after all these years, but on the other hand, it was not the news I wanted to hear. No one wants to be told that they have yet another chronic disease.
*Crohn’s disease is a rare, chronic inflammatory bowel disease. There is no cure for Crohn’s and it sometimes causes life-threatening complications. Crohn’s disease causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and fatigue. Some people may be symptom-free most of their lives, while others can have severe chronic symptoms that never go away…Another Life Sentence for me, Another rare disease that most people don’t understand, Another auto-immune disease, Another disease with no cure to add to the list of others that I already have such as Fibromyalgia, and Interstitial Cystitis.
The good news is that I have had Crohn’s for over twenty years and now my doctor will know how to treat it. For the last five years, I was convinced that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Another doctor suggested it based on my symptoms. At first, I didn’t agree with him but my symptoms seem to fit. The symptoms of IBS and Crohn’s can be very similar.
My Gastroenterologist immediately started me on an antispasmodic. It helps reduce the symptoms of stomach cramping. He also started me on Budesonide. It decreases symptoms such as pain and diarrhea. Budesonide is an anti-inflammatory drug.
Within a few weeks, I started feeling better. I wasn’t nauseated all the time, the stomach cramping was reduced and I rarely had any diarrhea. I felt somewhat human-like again. It was a great feeling!
I am thankful that I have answers to a question that affects my life daily. I am thankful because I know that the Lord will be beside me, guiding me no matter what is going on in my life. I also know that my struggles make me realize just how strong I am.
Stay tuned to find out why this feeling of relief only lasted a few weeks…
Recently I had a week that was very difficult. I dealt with an IBS flare every day that week and Fibromyalgia flares for three days. It was getting to me…I was struggling mentally.
My doctor appointment was scheduled for Wednesday. I was in a Fibromyalgia flare but decided to go anyway. Big mistake! Everything irritated me even the teenage girls in the waiting area who were talking loudly and being, well, like teenage girls…lots of drama.
Then I was taken to a “holding area” and greeted….no, not greeted at all, by a nurse who then took me to a small open room and proceeded to ask me questions for all to hear about my medications and my surgery history, etc. I thought there was some kind of privacy thing now…um, guess not! If I had the energy and spunk that I have when I feel at least a little bit better I would have asked her about talking to me privately. Then I was taken to another “holding area” where I was able to hear an another nurse complain about another patient. Not what any patient wants to hear and not what I wanted to hear at all, especially since I felt so bad.
Things were not off to a good start but it was the visit with the doctor that upset me the most. I felt like I was more of a burden to him than anything. Like all of my crazy conditions were frustrating him and he didn’t want to deal with me. Just imagine how I feel. I have to live with these conditions every day of my life. I can’t send me away after humiliating me and go on to the next person. He even said in a very unpleasant tone “I can’t fix all of your issues.”
I realize that he can’t, I can’t, nor can a team of doctors fix all of my issues. I understand that. Most of the time I mainly just want someone to listen to me with compassion and make educated suggestions. Or just listen to me, let me cry and just be there for me. If I am paying you to listen to me, please at least be compassionate and not make me feel worse.
On Friday I talked to my sister about some of my struggles and she listened, made suggestions, and just showed me love. I was starting to see the light at the end of a long, hard week. I still didn’t feel good physically but mentally I was relieved just to be able to talk to someone who had empathy for me.
Later that day my husband called me and we made plans to get eat supper after I worked a couple of hours. We met at the restaurant and things were off to a good start. I was enjoying his company and we laughed along with the server as he had to bring us our drinks three times before they tasted as they should.
Then all of the sudden, “I was double booked.” You know from the Viberzi commercial…
I looked at my husband with genuine sorrow and said a phrase he has heard over and over…”I am sick.” He knows that means I need to go home asap. I started popping Zofran for my nausea and Loperamide Hydrochloride to hopefully prevent an IBS attack. My husband thankfully went to the server and said something to the effect of, “Bag it up.”
Adding to the horrible feeling of an IBS attack, I felt defeat for myself, and heartfelt disappointment for my husband. I looked at him and said, “I am sorry.” Another phrase that he hears repeatedly from me due to my many illnesses. I felt guilty…one of many of my feelings with chronic pain, etc.
But I know that I have chronic issues for a reason. I know that the only one that can heal me is my Father and Savior. And I know at least for now, I am double booked, with chronic pain, and a mission to encourage others.
I am thankful for a husband that takes it in stride when after a long week of work, his well deserved steak dinner has to be boxed up and taken home to eat. I am also thankful that my Heavenly Father has plans for me no matter how messed up my “date night” may turn out to be.
As I drove myself home I had an overwhelming sense of sorrow and depression. I turned the radio on and heard the exact song I needed to hear at the exact time I needed to hear it. The song is called “Thy Will.” As she sang, I could relate to every single word as if the song was written for me on that day. I had a good cry but I also took to heart the words that were being so beautifully and emotionally sang. I also remembered that I am going through all my struggles for a reason and the most important thing is that God’s will is done in my life.
My life is like a box of chocolates, I never know what I’m gonna get. One morning, recently, I woke up feeling refreshed (a very rare feeling for me) because I had slept well the night before (again very rare). I felt good for most of the day despite the fact that my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has flared and I feel nauseated. But my spirits were good.
From one of my favorite movies, “Forrest Gump.”
The next day I woke up exhausted and in pain. I was in a Fibromyalgia flare and…an IBS attack to go along with it and as always my trusty friend, chronic sciatica. The Fibromyalgia made me feel like I had a fever all day. My whole body ached and I had very little energy. The IBS made me weak and nauseated. Lately, I have been getting used to that feeling because I have it most days. But the triple team effect of these three debilitating conditions really made me feel lousy.
I worked a couple of hours and then came home. My daughter and her husband came over for a short visit. I have found that the adrenaline you receive from looking forward to something can give you the strength to do much more than you thought you could accomplish while you are ailing physically. I still felt lousy when they came over but I enjoyed visiting with them.
My sweet husband stopped at two different restaurant’s and picked up our supper. My daughter and son-n-law are picky eaters and they wanted to eat from one certain restaurant and because of my diet restrictions (and I’m I picky eater too) I wanted another restaurant. My husband accommodated all of us.
After we ate, my daughter wanted to pet one of our cats. We had this cat, Boo Boo when Miranda was still living at home. Miranda knows that Boo has always been very particular about when and how she wants to be petted. I told Miranda that she needed to be in her zone in order to pet her. So we followed the Boo into the bedroom. I told her to lie down on the bed with me and I showed her how to pet Boo Boo the way that she liked it best.
It was good for me to be able to lie down and rest, and it was great to be able to talk to my daughter and connect with her in this way. Even though I felt bad I found the strength to talk to her and we bonded while we talked about my cats, her cat, and just everyday life.
Even though it would have been easier to stay in bed all day that day I know that sometimes I need to push myself to get the most out of life. Granted there are those days that I just need to stay in bed to rest my body so that I can give the most to my family and friends for the days ahead. But there are other days that I need to find my inner strength and give it my all.
My life IS like a box of chocolates…it won’t last forever but I try to make the most out of each piece.
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The storm irrupted after work. I was running late and I gobbled down a sandwich for lunch on my way to work. About an hour later the stomach cramps began. I took some medicine and soon forgot the pain.
Another hour goes by and I am hungry again, very hungry. I started a new medication for the neuropathy in my feet and it helps with the pain, but I stay hungry more often…oh great, now I’m sure to pack on some more unwanted and unneeded pounds…ugh!
To ease the hunger, I gobbled down a protein bar on the way home (what was I thinking…oh yeah, I wasn’t!) and soon felt the cramps and pain again. When I got home the violent storm began!!
I had to rush to the bathroom and I was definitely in an Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) attack. It was very severe. I felt so nauseated and weak I dragged myself to bed. A few minutes later the storm repeated again. This time it made me feel a little better.
You know how you feel when you have a stomach virus? With a virus you need to throw up and after you do, you are weak and nauseated. You know it is going to happen again and it is a terrible feeling. But after the last time, when it is finally all over, you feel a little better, only weak and worn out from the whole experience. That is how I feel all the time. That is how IBS makes me feel. I feel extremely weak, worn and nauseated most of the time and the majority of the time, I don’t even stop and rest, I just keep going.
If I stayed out of work every time I was sick, over the last twenty-three years, I would have had a lot of excessive absenteeism. Yes, I have been dealing with IBS for over twenty years. It is a horrible hand to be dealt. It has caused me to miss out on many social events, makes me feel miserable and makes deciding what to eat a tremendous task.
I have learned over the years that my body is very sensitive, even the tiniest variance can be costly. My diet mostly consists of the same foods over and over, so as not to upset the uncontrollable storms. If I eat too fast, too much or wait to long to eat, the consequences are colossal!
I must avoid spicy foods, fried foods, high fat foods, dairy, red meats and wheat, just to name a few. It limits my choice of foods greatly and it is a constant thought process as what to eat and what to avoid. I am still learning daily what works for me and what doesn’t.
As I deal with this burden, among many others, such as Fibromyalgia, Interstitial Cystitis, Restless Leg Syndrome, Neuropathy, Menopause, etc, etc. I often think “Why me?” But as I lay in bed that night, after the brutal storm had ended, I began to use that time to pray. It was an hour and a half before I felt like getting up to spend some time with my husband before he went to bed. That was a lot of time for prayer!
Of course, my mind would wonder and I was not praying the whole time, but for the most part, I was talking to the creator of the universe!! The time I spent in prayer that night was intimate time with God. That time was invaluable!! And I know that if I were not sick, I would not have spent that much time in prayer that day. So I choose to look at my hardships as a positive. I choose to let the works of God be displayed in me, I choose to be thankful for the raging storms in my life.