I had an appointment with my primary care provider, Dr. F today to touch base on all of the fun medical stuff going on with me (tl;dr -- 4 months of pain underneath my right ribs, reflux, vomiting, etc.).
She reaffirmed that I'm doing everything as I should be doing, but that I might be one of those "medical mysteries" that you read about in the Post. In other words, multiple doctors have run all the standard diagnostics (blood, CT, ultrasound) for the most likely causes for the pain (friggin gallbladder), but they're not yet able to explain why I am in pain. Doctors even did the next level of testing (HIDA, EGD endoscopy, gastric emptying study) and couldn't find a cause for everything going on (just confirmed some symptoms). So we're moving into more focused tests (abdominal MRI (Jan. 13), endoscopic ultrasound (Jan. 25)). We briefly discussed the possibility of needing surgery down the line to help with a diagnosis.
One moment that kind of took me by surprise was the concerned face she made when we talked about my losing weight. She knows that this number represents 2 months of throwing up (September/October) and 4 months (September–present) being skittish around food and not exercising. She knows that I haven't been taking vitamins, feel really weak/tired because I'm not eating enough calories, and that generally I feel like shit. She'd rather me weigh more and feel better than to see the scale go down and me feel so broken.
In other fun news, based on my blood work/pap smear at my annual obgyn exam, I got to have a colposcopy on 12/23. They took two cervical biopsies. I got the results back today and.... benign squamous epithelial cells. So we'll keep an eye on that going forward, but a little good news today.
Stephen King wrote in his book "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft," "You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will." (emphasis added) He called this a "permission slip." Couple this with Ranier Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" (which I talk about here) and the whole picture emerges: when faced with the questions of who we are and what we want to be, we need to harness our passion (Rilke's "I must"), couple it with the strength of our heart (courage), and not get in the way of our own potential.
That last one is important. I know so many people who are afraid to evolve, to try new things, to go new places, to meet new people because they fear the failures that may await outside of their comfort zone. That's an oppressive way to live -- and it's self-inflicted! There's such great freedom in detaching yourself from expectations (of failure or even success). It a beautiful blank canvas where anything can happen (Bob Ross: "We don't make mistakes: we have happy accidents").
#GoTheDist 2016's theme hopes to inspire and encourage the greatness that is within all of us.
Are you ready?
How to Join #GoTheDist 2016:
1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often).
2. Fill out the next available line on the "Summary" spreadsheet. You are responsible for filling out your biographical information (columns A–D), your tracking modality and goal (columns E and F), your quarterly goals (columns G, J, M, and P), and your half-year and full-year rewards (columns U and W).
3. **CREATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL PAGE** (The information you have entered in step 2 should auto-complete to an individual page. Check your line number and then look at the bottom of the page. Match up your line number and double check that your information is correct).
4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]"
5. Fill out the sheet as you wish. See step #8.
6. Update your own individual page as needed (if tracking is too hard, consider printing out your page and filling it out by hand and updating it online once a week). The total mileage will automatically be updated on the Summary tab as you report on your individual page.
7. Follow #GoTheDist on Twitter for support if you need it or to support others when they do, to announce achievements, and find new/old friends!
8. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE LINES OR TABS! Do not SORT. If you want to add columns, please add them to the RIGHT of the page. Please do NOT move your page around! You CAN bookmark your individual page using your browser to find it easily.
A few months ago, I wrote about my fun trip to the hospital because of abdominal pain that I was feeling.
9/1 & 9/2 - Hospital
Bloodwork, Ultrasound, CT, HIDA (nuclear test of gallbladder function). Left hospital with anti-nausea meds (Bentyl and Zofran). They recommended a follow-up with a gastroenterologist.
9/11 - went to Dr. C.; didn't have best impression of him (he didnt even touch me/investigate during first exam). Gave me trials of Dexilant (GERD meds) but no prescription. Recommended that I take Prilosec (over the counter anti reflux meds). Scheduled me for endoscopy.
10/9 - Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD) (camera down my throat to view esophagus, stomach, and duodenum). Revealed irritation (erythema) consistent with gastritis/reflux. Biopsies taken during EGD came back negative for ulcers, cancer (Barrett's Syndrome), Crohn's, celiac, and Heliobacter pylori.
I pretty much was throwing up every day or every other day in September and October. I am on a low acid/low-to-no fat diet (with a few other nos: caffeine, alcohol, gum, onions).
took a nap under a Geiger counter.
11/5 - went to new doc (Dr. Z). He prescribes a stronger anti-reflux meds and a gastric emptying test. Stronger anti-reflux meds help for the most part. I only throw up about once a week now and it is largely based on me and my diet. Drinking too many liquids is usual the culprit.
11/18 - Gastric Emptying Study (see photos) (eat some radioactive eggs and see how long it takes to move through upper GI). Just got the results and they are normal. This rules out gastroparesis (slow motility of stomach)
12/14 - follow up with Dr. Z. [Edit: we talked about life since on omeprazole -- which has been better, but not perfect. I'm still waking up with acid in my esophagus. He's prescribing something for overnight. We talked about my diet. He said that I should be able to eat some of the restricted food groups in small portions, but I told him that I've not had any luck with that. I still have the pain on my right side. He said at this point it might be musculoskeletal (i'm dubious about this...). But that there are more tests we can do that could help figure out what's going on (and could also help determine if it's musculoskeletal) -- an endoscopic ultrasound and an MRI. If those prove to be inconclusive, it may be the time to talk to a surgeon.]
During all of this, I had a ton of stuff going on at work as well as an office move.
Thanksgiving made me terribly sad cause it is my favorite holiday and I couldn't eat my favorite foods so I didn't go. Glad I didn't go. Spent most of the day in bed crying between trips to throw up.
I have been really frustrated because it is 3.5 months later and we are no closer to a diagnosis. Chronic pain (back) + chronic illness (gut) has been a really tough one-two combination. Feeling beat up is an understatement.
As drinking liquids tends to trigger my nausea (no matter how slowly I drink), I have been operating pretty dehydrated and this hasn't been good for my back. I tried holiday shopping yesterday and after 30 minutes and one bus ride I was already limping (and was without my cane).
I spend a lot of time in bed because I have no energy or desire to engage in life any more than I have to. At least Jack is a cuddle monster.
I had myself a good cathartic cry yesterday. I know many people in the world have a harder life than I do -- no doctors, no medicine, no sick leave from work, no insurance, no cuddly cat, no warm bed, no roof.... but as people keep asking me what I want for the holidays, it is abundantly clear that I don't want or need trinkets. I just want my health.
So two things led up to this post -- a post that will mix metaphors and have your heads spinning:
1. I saw #RunChat a week or so ago and popped my head in. I love how supportive David (@RunningBecause) is, but the fact is that I'm already motivated -- that has rarely waned (except when it comes to diet because pizza is delicious). I've been champing at the bit. Perhaps my running life movie (see below) shouldn't be titled "Out of Gas" but rather "Broken Down Jalopy."
I was okay when it was just my back. But now it's gallbladder(?) + back. I feel very overwhelmed by this. I just want (1) a healthy day (without feeling like I need to vomit all the time) and (2) a day without pain (either my gallbladder or my back--which is feeling the effects of the dehydration) (and (3) a day without my ear ringing... but that's not wearing me down so long as I have a kitteh bent on purring in my ear at night).
2. I've been reading Martinus' blog (@300lbsandrunnin) lately and really identifying with what he's been going through. Life is hard sometimes. It's messy. It's ugly. And always having to start over is excruciating because it's not like starting with a clean slate at the start line, or as I said to Martinus, "I see it like wanting to climb a mountain but first having to dig your way out of a cavern with your bare hands." You exhaust yourself even before even getting to the point where you feel like you can once again take up fight.
I feel like I'm underwater and unable to get my head above the surface. Is it depression? Maybe? I guess? I feel very much like I'm never going to get to a place where my body and mind are in the same place. It's frustrating. I'm angry. I'm in mourning. And I'm also terrified. I don't know the way forward. I was thinking about the tweets above when I remembered my swim lessons as a kid. They taught me the survival float -- face down floating for when you're in open/rough water (floating on your back only works in calm water). This strategy conserves energy for when you need to use it.
Perhaps I need to remember that I'm using my energy to handle the waves and that pretty soon I'll be in calmer water.
I'm 34 and have been overweight or obese since I was 8 years old. This is my journey to change not only my body but my relationship with it. And who knows, I might even meet some people on their own journeys along the way. To contact me privately, email me at FatGirlvsWorld@gmail.com