Share about a health struggle.
I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate with my health. I’ve had very, very minor issues – low iron for which I take a single ferrous gluconate tablet daily, a terrible rash of ear infections which led to permanent damage to my ear drum, I’m blind as a bat – and all have been manageable without hospital stays or complications.
The only ongoing issue I’ve had, I wrote about back in March, 2010. I’ll reproduce here and follow-up afterwards:
“Unless I’m incubating a fetus, I tend to avoid the doctor. For no reason other than I don’t really have a reason to go. Sure, I get sick, but never sick sick and I just suck it up and deal with it. I don’t need my doctor to tell me to take Tylenol for a fever, drink lots of fluids and sleep it off. I can do that myself.
But I went to the walk-in clinic yesterday after work. My doctor works there occasionally and he was there last night and I needed to see him. I told myself that as long as I felt well enough, I’d go to the clinic (which sounds back asswards). I felt fine, so I went to the doctor.
I’ve been having severe stomach cramps. Well, stomach-ish area cramps. Upper left abdomen. Severe upper left abdomen cramps. Like, remember that part during labour where you’ve had enough of natural childbirth and GIVE ME THE DAMN DRUGS YOU NAZIS!? Yeah. That severe. I had my first back in August or September and maybe a dozen or so since. I’ve had to leave work a couple of times. I’ve nearly blacked out from pain while driving. And I have an extraordinarily high pain tolerance, so for me to finally see a doctor? I’ve had enough.
My doctor is pretty awesome. He’s our family doctor and birthed the girls. He took us on and didn’t have to when my old doctor up and moved with no notice. So I went to see him tonight to see if he could make the owies go away.
He listed a bunch of scary possibilities while muttering under his breath, typing away on his laptop. He asked a million questions, examined my person. He gave me requisitions for blood work, ultrasounds, x-rays. He gave me a prescription for an ailment he’s pretty sure it’s not. He was honest and told me that he didn’t know what was causing the pain, but that we would figure it out.
I’m sitting here now, holding my breath which helps lessen the crippling pain, Google Diagnosing myself. Rule #1 of Life: Do Not Google Diagnose Yourself. No matter how simple the problem, you are dying. Headache? Cancer. Shoulder pain? Cancer. Runny nose? Cancer. Upper Left Abdomen pain? Definitely cancer. Inoperable pancreatic/kidney/lung/stomach cancer which leads to imminent death and pain!
And I’m not making light of this (well, I was for a second there, but I’m not anymore), because I know AAAALLL about karma and she’s a nasty little lady, so I wouldn’t dare make jokes without taking them back.
I’m trying not to make too much out of this. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s just gas. Maybe when I go for my follow-up visit, he’ll just lean on my upper left abdomen with his elbow and I’ll fart, really loud. Super embarrassing, but at least it would be gone. But it’s not gas.
My tummy hurts, people. It hurts a lot. It hurts after I eat, but not every time I eat, and not for any food in particular. I could eat something for dinner, be fine, eat the exact same thing for lunch the next day and be blinded with pain for hours. I could eat deep-fried, butter-covered bacon with a chaser of full-fat whipping cream and be fine, or I could eat a lettuce and air salad, hold the dressing, and be folded in half with pain. It doesn’t happen often, maybe once every couple of weeks, but that’s enough.
I am not joking when I say:
As of today, the abdominal pains have all but vanished. I still get a competely debilitating cramp in the upper left or mid right section of my abdomen that renders me unable to function for an hour or so every once in a while, but the frequency and even the severity has lessened greatly. I’ve also learned how to deal with them when they occur. After blood tests and x-rays and ultrasounds and examinations, my doctor was still stumped as to what might be causing these pains, so he suggested they might be stress-induced muscle spasms. I agree with the muscle spasm part of the diagnosis, but I’m not overly stressed, so I’m not sure that’s the cause. Either way, he suggested to me that when these pains begin, to practice “breathing in a box.” Breathe in for three seconds, hold for three seconds, breathe out for three, hold for three, and repeat. Visualize a square, control my breathing, all while stretched out as flat as I can, usually on the floor. And you know what? It works. It’s usually gone within a few minutes and I’m back to being able to function normally.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be rid of this…whatever it is, but it’s manageable. It’s not cancer or my gall bladder or pancreatitis. It’s not diverticulitis or an aortic aneurysm. This will not kill me. It won’t even slow me down. I’ve been lucky with my health, and I’m grateful for that. I can handle a little stomach cramp every once in a while.