- 6 years ago
- Wedding: December 2013
(WARNING…this is kind of long, but i wanted to be thorough and give the full backstory of the issues i’m having.)
i’m doing something i probably shouldn’t…self-diagnosing, using the internet. BUT WAIT! the only reason i’m doing so is to try and keep my sanity and get some relief until i can get insurance and go to the doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
i have a long history (10 years since the first occurrence) of weird and extremely painful “episodes” where it feels like my stomach is being tied in knots or twisted like someone wringing out a rag for anywhere from 6 to 18 hours. sometimes i’d be throwing up too, and sometimes i wouldn’t. no matter what, everything involving putting something in my stomach made it worse (eating something mild, taking tums or pepto, even drinking water). usually my chest would ache too, and it would radiate to my back, and as i started to feel better the pain and tenderness would sort of migrate southward, with my lower belly feeling kind of tender and sore for several days. it would take a week for me to be able to eat normally again. also, at the start of the attack, i’d have a LOT of diarrhea, and then i’d be constipated for days afterward. for the first few years these attacks were infrequent, 6 or more months in between, so i chalked it up to mild food poisoning or “just something i ate”. they became more frequent when i was in grad school and working on my thesis, ranging from 2 to 4 months in between, and then when i started working a regular 8-5 i was getting them monthly. at that point i decided it was ridiculous to live like that, especially considering that i had a regular paycheck and decent insurance, so i went to the doctor. we couldn’t nail it down to any specific food looking at a food journal i kept for a couple months and recalling what i’d eaten before, and i tested negative for celiac. she ordered lower and upper abdominal ultrasounds and everything looked normal. the next thing she wanted to try was to have me either come in next time when i was sick, or go to the ER (since usually the episodes started in the evening, continued overnight, and i was usually starting to feel better by morning) to have pancreatic enzymes checked and have an upper abdominal ultrasound to see what was different while i was sick vs feeling ok.
unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), that never happened, because right around that time a coworker said something about her daughter (who is a few years older then me) having the same troubles, and they cleared up after she stopped eating popcorn. popcorn was kind of my go-to healthy snack at the time, i ate it pretty much every day (and had started eating it more frequently when i was in grad school), so i tried it, and it was 6 months before my next attack. aaaaaand i was pregnant at the time. by that point, my doctor had put me down as having IBS and said most likely the attacks were stress-related as well.
after having my son, i’ve only had a couple of the classic attacks that i’ve described above…i’ve had a lot more instances of issues that are much the same except instead of the intense pain, it’s debilitating nausea (so bad that i can’t even move) and a little bit of pain here and there, plus a dull ache under the right side of my ribcage. also, they’re much more frequent, and i can pin them down to times when i either eat a bit too much or have a heavy, rich, or greasy meal. it’s gotten so much more frequent in the past six months to the point that i’ve seriously lost my appetite because i’m so afraid of eating too much, because it makes me feel so nasty. i’m convinced this is why i’ve lost weight without actively trying. i’m not sure of the timeline of the first seven pounds, but the last eight have been over the past six weeks. i lost two just over the weekend, after another painful attack saturday night. it’s a little scary, since i haven’t really messed with my diet other than eating less in general because of losing my appetite, and at this rate i’ll see the underside of 160 for the first time in 5 or 6 years next week, after being nearly 180 just a few months ago. (i WANT to lose weight, don’t get me wrong…but not like this!) the weight loss is definitely a new development…in the past, these symptoms have never had any lasting effects. and over the last two weeks, my symptoms have not gone away completely. they’re lingering now. the only foods that don’t seem to aggravate it are oatmeal, bananas, peeled apples, toast with jam (no butter), plain rice, coffee/tea, and yogurt. it’s awful.
and here’s the weirdest part… when i was pregnant, toward the end of the first trimester, if i laid on my stomach, i could just feel that my uterus was swelling/getting bigger because i could feel myself laying on it, like a foreign object, if that makes sense. it was as though i’d been doing laundry and accidentally left a sock ball on the bed that i was laying on, just above my pubic bone. it feels like that now when i lay on my stomach, except instead of being above my pubic bone, it’s high up and to my right.
everything points to my gallbladder. i’m reading about it online and it seems that it can be managed with diet, except a lot of the foods that are supposed to be good for a healthy gallbladder/liver are things that are setting me off at the moment because it seems i haven’t fully recovered from my last attack yet, after weeks. everything i read about gallbladder surgery is either someone citing god as to why you shouldn’t get it removed (that’s fine if you believe in god, but i don’t, so that argument doesn’t hold water for me), someone who “feels great” after having their gallbladder out last week, or someone who’s having problems after having it out years before. i haven’t heard a single account of people who have had it out and not had problems, and i’m wondering if it’s because they don’t exist, or if it’s because these people aren’t thinking about posting their experiences because, well, they feel fine and it’s just not on their minds.
if you have or had gallbladder issues, tell me about them and what you did to alleviate it, whether it’s diet, surgery, yoga, whatever! anything to tide me over until i have my insurance straightened out and can see a doctor!