Medical issues stink. They really do. Especially when it’s stupid.
Like mine for the last, oh, I don’t know, let’s say, for argument’s sake, it’s been a few years anyway, that I've been having stomach issues.
To remain delicate about it, I will say that I couldn’t leave the bathroom, or was constantly going to the bathroom because my gut decided to expel everything. This happened at least once a week.
I would try different things to attempt to fix it. Boycott coffee for a while. A close friend told me it was my creamer, so I got dairy-free creamer. I tried plain coffee. Or almond, oat, or soy milk. I have quite a collection of different black and green teas because I’d go to tea as well. Caffeine or no caffeine. Nothing seemed to help. Low carb diet, low fat diet, it didn’t matter.
But I had a liquid schedule in the salon, so I could adjust it as needed around the issue, and I pretty much kept it to myself. Who wants to hear about being stuck in the bathroom, or bloated, or gas issues, anyway, right?
For a whole host of other reasons, I left hairstyling and got a job working from home for my local cable company. And I enjoy the job. The company’s great, benefits are great. People are great. My boss is amazing.
But my stupid stomach…
It’s only gotten worse in the last year. The time in the bathroom is more intense. There’s more cramping and pain, not to mention brain fog and exhaustion. There’s nothing like having your gut expel everything and leave you with nothing after.
You know how everyone complains about the prep for a colonoscopy? That’s nothing compared to my bad stomach days. I know this, because this past spring, I had a colonoscopy.
Ironically, it came back clean. So no answers there.
The amount of work I was missing has been problematic, so I tried changing my work schedule start time, so starting later in the day I wouldn’t be stuck in the bathroom.
I went to my general doctor, who believed it was more an issue with constipation as it was diarrhea, so I started my poop journal, writing down how I feel and my bathroom habits. She ran x-rays as well, to make sure there wasn’t any issues she could see.
Nothing. Well, not nothing. There was something that made her think I might have some issues with gall stones.
Great. A direction. So more scans. A trip to a surgeon to see about removing my gall bladder. Instead, the surgeon sent me to a gastroenterologist, where I had to submit poop studies (eww) and a breath test.
Mind you, weeks went by between each appointment, because nothing is ever urgent when it comes to seeing specialists.
And in between, I’m dealing with this the best I can. Antacids for the heartburn that has now joined the party, probiotics to help balance things. Pills for stomach cramping, as well. I look like a damn pharmacy with all the prescriptions I have.
And I’m missing work. Which sucks, because I only get 16 hrs of PTO a month since I’m a new hire. While they have medical accommodations, it all takes time. And doctor’s appointments. And paperwork. And time. It just exhausts me thinking about it. I remind myself that it takes all the things because ppl try to cheat the system, so it has to be at least a little annoying to get everything done. I get that. Still sucks when I have to go back to the doctor because of a checkmark and a note that wasn’t worded exactly right. :::insert huge eye roll::::
At least they’re trying to work with me.
But back to my story.
So I did all the tests.
And guess what? They actually found something.
A good thing, because I was starting to doubt myself.
Maybe I was just being a big baby, and this really wasn’t anything. That it was just the way it was, and I needed to get over it, get up and take care of things, and just shove it under the rug, like a good little girl.
Because that’s what women do, right? We just go on. Persevere. We ignore medical problems and physical issues because there’s laundry to do or kids to drop off or pick up or dinner to make. Bills to pay. Groceries to buy. We don’t have time to be sick. So we tell ourselves that we’re not sick and we move on.
So that’s what I did. I downplayed it as much as I could. Unfortunately, my kids saw how much it was affecting me over the summer because they were home. Hubby wasn’t home. He didn’t realize how severe it was getting.
At least until he really saw how it was hitting me. The paleness, the inability to do anything for hours because I’m hurting and so weak. The brain fog. Running to the bathroom every ten minutes.
That even when I tried to say I was fine, I wasn’t.
Did you know that pooping can really take it out of you? No pun intended. Okay, maybe a little pun, but it's very true.
Gatoraide became my least favorite necessity because the electrolytes seemed to help, and hubby would get me whatever kind I wanted to help me feel better.
All the while waiting for test results. Something to give me a diagnosis.
And finally, one came in.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
What the hell?
Simply put, my small intestines had an infection that can be cured with, of all damn things, an antibiotic.
This was so weirdly comforting, but also I’m kinda like “Wait, what?” Especially when I looked up the symptoms.
I can literally check all of them off the list. Even the skin issues, and I've always been blessed with nice skin. Pimples happen, but generally, I have good skin.
At least until now.
Currently, my face looks like a red patch/flakey skin war zone. There’s not enough night cream to fix it either. Yet another thing I thought was just “getting older, deal with it” things.
While the meds are supposed to be helping, I'm questioning.
I'm healing. Slowly.
Very, very slowly.
Though the antibiotics are done, I'm still muddling through. I've missed one event I was going to be at, and now I'm going to have to cancel another appearance due to my stomach. The last one I have scheduled for the year is at the end of October, and I'm still not sure if I'll be able to go to that one, either.
It's disappointing, because I love doing events where I can meet readers and sell my books, but I have to be able to take care of myself right now until I get better.
I don't know how long that's going to take, but I'm working on it.
It's just taking quite a bit.
2023 has not been easy this year...