Friday, October 31, 2014

Gastroparesis Is Torture

Two months ago, I got sick with what I thought was your run-of-the-mill stomach flu.  It began with exhaustion.  I was so tired I could barely stand up.  I'm no stranger to that because Fibromyalgia carries with it an ass kicking level of tired.  But this was different.  I couldn't push past it and keep going.

Next were the burps that smelled like rotten eggs.  Over and over, they wouldn't stop.  My stomach bloated and became hard as a rock while slowly cramping and twisting.  And then came the diarrhea - the kind where you can't get off the toilet for five hours and your legs are paralyzed even as your butt cheeks cramp. I had extreme nausea and then the vomiting began.  It was painful and violent, the retching racked me until I thought I had broken ribs.

Three days later, things seemed better.   I had one good day and then it returned, more vicious the second time around.  I went to the ER, pretty sure I was dying but positive that I was dehydrated yet again.  I begged them to put pain medicine in my IV and asking for that is unusual for me. 

The doctors did blood work, X-rays, and all manner of other tests between my two ER visits and when finished, could only say, "We think it's some sort of viral thing."  I ended up sick like that for weeks - it would come on suddenly, excruciatingly and a few days later, I would be better for a little while.

At the third or fourth ER visit for dehydration and pain, the doctor asked if I had ever been tested for Celiac Disease.  I had no idea if I had or not.  All of you with a chronic illness will understand when I say that I've had so many tests for everything under the sun to finally give me the diagnosis's I now have & while I am pretty savvy about my own health issues, nobody can recall every test ever done.

The next day, I was being tested for Celiac.  It came back negative.  The Gastroenterologist told me that he suspected a condition called Gastroparesis.  He said he thought the original virus was so severe that it partially paralyzed my stomach.  Basically, every time I ate something solid, it digested so slowly that it would begin rotting and fermenting until those gross burps began.  Then, my body would expel the food by whatever means necessary.

After being put through a battery of tests for Gastroparesis, it was confirmed that I have it.  The doctor told me it could be temporary until my stomach fully healed.  Or, it could be permanent and lifelong.  I have a list of things wrong but I work hard to remain as independent and optimistic as possible.  That said, this diagnosis both scared and absolutely pissed me off.  A person can only take so much. 

I deal with a level of pain that defies words because of Fibromyalgia.  When it flares, it's a soul sucking vacuum of agony.  But the Gastroparesis?  It's a different and more awful kind of sick.  There's something very wrong with the hinges of your jaw popping as your mouth tries to open itself wide enough for the launch of masticated ham and gravy.

I'm hoping this is temporary.  That my stomach is just cranky and sore from the virus but will buck up soon and welcome the buffet at my favorite Chinese place.  I'm hoping that I don't have to live the rest of my life with another illness because it makes me sad if I do.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Time To Hibernate.

Winter is coming.  Beyond the obvious and awesome Game of Thrones reference, it's true for my part of the world.  The cold, snow and ice are upon us in Wisconsin.  Just one more day of October, Halloween, the first holiday of the season.  Children are suited up in their favorite make believe and hoping for any treat other than the orange or black paper wrapped chunks of peanut butter.

As anyone with Fibromyalgia knows, the cold is devastating to our pain levels.  Not only the cold but precipitation too.  We feel the snow and ice as if we were outside (naked) making angels in it even when we're curled up in our favorite recliner and buried under blankets. 

I don't think any of us look forward to winter but for me at least, there is a positive side.  I make myself be less busy and relax more.  It's time to catch up on reading, one of my most favorite things to do.  If my Epub files were actual books, I would have piles of them in every corner.  I pull out projects to start and hopefully finish.  (I'm a bit of a procrastinator.) 

The 'To Do' list that I've been adding to for months beckons me.  Things like going through computer folders to clean out and organize.  Dozens of pictures wait for me to say, 'Awwww', and print them for the pegboard in my office.  Homemade Christmas present ideas are written on scraps of paper piled in a desk drawer. 

It's time now.. time for hot coco, jammies and slippers, buttered popcorn, movies and TV shows to catch up on.  It's time to write again.