Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Keep searching for your solution

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Keep searching for your solution

 I don't normally veer off the topic of music unless I have something really important to talk about. This is one of those times. I decided to share this story because I know there are a lot of other people out there who are in the same situation.

 June 2010 I was just about to start Graphic Design school. I was really excited to finally solidify my knowledge of web and graphic design. Not too long before school had began, I woke up one morning very sick. My first thought was that I had the flu. I was sure I caught something, because it literally happened over night. I was feeling a great deal of pain in my stomach, and it caused me to vomit and have many bathroom visits. It seemed to be worse in the morning. When I would go to bed, every half hour I'd wake up to throw up. I couldn't sleep much at all, and I was in pain almost constantly. I kept thinking it would go away. I finally went to the doctor, and they had no ideas as to what it could be.

 They put me on antibiotics, which did nothing and often made the situation worse. I was finally referred to the best GI doctor in the area, where I was given a colon and upper endoscopy. Long story short: they found nothing. I was sick and in pain every day and doctor's had no idea why. I was asked all the obvious questions: like had I traveled, or ate something strange, things like that. Doctor's were trying to figure out what it was, and the whole process was horrifying. The thought that I could have a parasite, or Crohns  or Celiacs Disease, none of those were good prospects. But nothing was coming up in tests. I even went on "Elimination diets" as per my doctor. I ate gluten free food (which is awful), and avoided dairy, tried high fiber diets, anti-acids, charcoal pills...nothing made any difference. I was keeping food journals and everything.

 Well, there was *one* thing that made a difference, and I think it's important to note. Because of my mystery health problems I was able to get my Cannabis Card here in the state of California. Smoking cannabis in the morning to get over the stomach pain and nausea was all I had. It helped with the pain and make it so I could eat and function. I was and still am so grateful for medical marijuana, but I still wanted to get better and go back to the way I was. I made a friend through another friend who was actually diagnosed with Crohns disease. She was in a similar boat, having tried everything doctors had to offer and nothing gave her any relief. She asked me about medical marijuana, and I had nothing but positive things to say about it. Long story short, Cannabis has been a HUGE help to her, and she's so grateful for it. I couldn't be more thrilled and more of a believer in medicinal marijuana.

  I tried many things, including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, probiotics, saw a nutritionist, tried live culture yogurt, kombucha and a bunch of others. I even got a food allergy allergies. My "stomach problem" effected my life greatly. I couldn't go out, or if I did I'd have to leave early because I felt so sick. I was always throwing up, which obviously concerned my friends and family. A lot of preggo jokes were thrown around, which I resented. I missed out on a lot of things, and it held me back from a lot. The stomach problem in itself was causing depression and it was a vicious cycle.

 Doctor's were baffled, and after about a year I gave up. I was realizing it was causing me more anxiety wondering what was wrong with me, and being hyper vigilant of whatever I put in my mouth. Eating was horrible because as I'd eat I'd think that I'd be losing it before long. Whatever I ate I had to pay for later. I wanted my stomach problem to be gone by graduation, it was not. I had moments of incontinence, and let me tell you, visiting a GI doctor sure takes away your shyness. It was an awful and at times demeaning experience. I felt like an old person with these stomach problems. I couldn't sleep in, I couldn't even really sleep. And this went on for a couple of years.

 By the insistence of my boyfriend at the time, I decided to try another doctor and try another approach. I was honestly pessimistic, because nothing had ever helped...especially anything from Western medicine. At first I was given a medication that had a side effect of making my nausea worse. I didn't even touch the stuff. I explained this to my doctor, I can't risk feeling any worse. Doctors and therapists often asked me what I did to deal with this for this long, I would reply "Smoking weed, hot baths and a sense of humor." It is pretty much impossible to have GI problems and not find it funny at times...even in a macabre way. After having those issues I began to see that sayings like "party pooper" are probably named after people in my situation. You are literally a party pooper, and you have to leave early because you feel "like shit."

 During my time of having this problem, I was always looking for answers. Something, anything. When you are in pain everyday things can get kind of desperate. I did *not* want to be on pain meds, I wanted a solution. I wanted to find out what was wrong with me and if anybody else was having the same problem. The funny part is my issue sounds like a lot of different illnesses. For example: it sounds like Fibromialgia, Celiac's, Crohns. I found some folks online and some through friend's friends who were having nearly identical issues to mine. It was hard to get people to talk about it, and I totally understand why. Not many people are eager to talk about how they have to vomit and have diarrhea all the time. It's gross, and it's ruining their life, I get that. Ever see those Crohns disease medication commercials where they are always hunting for a bathroom? That was my experience too. You feel like where ever you go you have to be ready for your health problem. I also always had a bag on hand for when I had to through up. Things like traveling, camping and road trips were pretty difficult if not impossible. When I was a kid to adult I prided myself on my "iron stomach." I never got sea sick, plane sick, car sick, I barely ever puked. Well, that was all different now.

 After going to the doctor most recently, and after we axed the antibiotic, he suggested I try anti-depressants. I was skeptical, but he explained that the mind and the stomach and very connected. It made a lot of sense once he explained it. He put me on a low dose of anti-depressants and told me to take it before bed every day for 2 weeks. Low and worked. I was SLEEPING again, and not puking, and the pain went away 100%. It was incredible. After 2 1/2 nearly 3 years of misery the problem was now gone. In a sense it was scary, because after about a year I came to grips that I might have this for the rest of my life. And now it was gone. I felt like I did, and I really DID get my life back. My doctor was super happy to hear the news.

 I wanted to write a blog about this because I KNOW there are others out there with the same problem. And they don't know what's causing it or what brought it on. I still don't know what brought it on, but I do understand what it is now. I wont say that anti-depressants will work for everyone in a similar situation, but it is something to consider. I guess you could say I'm a believer based on my own personal experience. Part of me wishes I could go back in time and tell myself what to take because it would solve my problem. But at least it happened and the solution is a pretty simple one. No awful meds, and the anti-depressant I'm on is well known and a low dose. So thankfully my solution is affordable and easy to attain. Upon reflection I realized I had went of anti-depressants just a few months before school started. And I do have issues with depression, and I guess for me it manifests in the stomach. Apparently, this is far from atypical.

 If I didn't keep looking for a solution to my problem, I'd still be sitting here in pain. I wouldn't be able to do all the things I am able to do. As defeated as I felt (and I felt very defeated) I am glad I kept looking for a cure to my problem. I often hoped it would go away just as it appeared, but it was more complicated than that. Hopefully someone out there in the same situation as me finds this and is inspired to keep looking for a cure to feel better. Not only just relating to my issue, but any.

 This June would mark 3 years of this problem, but I'm thrilled to say I found a solution and feel like myself again. If you have any friends or family members who sound like they have the same symptoms as me but no diagnosis, please refer them to this blog entry. 

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