Monday, August 30, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

I know I've been slacking on the blog posting lately.  Sorry about that.  Things have been a little weirder than usual for me, but I'll attempt to catch everyone up here, while it's on my mind.

Back on August 9th, I started getting these mild abdominal pains here and there.  I didn't think anything of them then, and especially not a couple days later, when I also developed a sore throat, which I assume came from a bug my husband Don passed on to me.  He'd been sick the week before with a bug, so I figured some virus was invading my system and wreaking havoc on my guts a bit.  By Friday, the 13th (ooh!) my sore throat was better and I returned to work, despite the ongoing abdominal pain.

Having been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) a few years back in late 2007 or so, I'd been doing very well since I started taking a probiotic daily with my vitamins.  I figured I'd been "spoiled" by the virtual elimination of IBS symptoms and didn't think much of a little irritation here and there, especially with the recent mysterious bug.  However, as days passed, I started noticing the abdominal pain was waxing and waning at times, and when it was worse, I seemed also to bloat up, feeling pain from the increased pressure in my belly.  I tried to notice if it had anything to do with eating or eating certain things.  Sometimes I would wake up with the pain, though, so I couldn't make a connection.  Don suggested I have simpler foods for lunch, so I had fresh fruits for lunch for a few days and felt a bit better.

The following Friday, August 20th, I had eaten a pretty large amount of nuts (almonds, cashews, and pecans) for a mid-morning snack.  I probably had more than I should, considering my weight and binging concerns, but I enjoyed them well enough.  A few hours later, the abdominal pains and bloating really got strong.  Around 2pm or so I had just bought myself a late lunch consisting of a grilled cheese sandwich and small chicken noodle soup from our building cafeteria, since I was out of fruit.  It wasn't fruit, but I figured it was simple enough for my guts.  I took a few bites/spoonfuls and couldn't eat any more.  I felt absolutely awful, so I left work to go to the ER and try to find out if something was seriously wrong with me.

Tip: If you can help it, try not to go to the Emergency Room on a Friday afternoon or evening.  When I first got there around 3pm or so, it wasn't too bad, but as the hours wore on, the waiting room filled up with all kinds of people.  Since I wasn't bleeding or unconscious, I wasn't as high a priority, so I had to wait several hours for a room/doctor.  In the meantime, it was very cold and I had someone bring me two blankets to drape myself in while waiting.  They took some blood and urine and did a few tests to check for gallbladder issues.  My tests were okay, I was told.

When I finally got to a room, I was in a queue to get an ultrasound on my abdomen, to see what's going on.  My gallbladder was found to be "distended" and possibly contain some sludge.  The doctors (there was a shift change before I was released) latched onto the gallbladder thing and advised me to avoid fatty, fried foods.  By this time Don had joined me and I looked at him in confusion.  Don vouched for me as we both told the doctor that we already eat pretty healthy now, especially since my yeast-free diet a couple of years back.  We prefer fresh produce, and indulge in "bad" foods only occasionally, here and there.  I really could not believe this was the cause of my problems, but that's the information with which they released me.  I was also given a Bentyl injection for my abdominal pains.  Oddly, the injection was pretty painful, even though I thought I was an old pro at getting shots, as I'd gotten years of them for my allergies.  I was also given a prescription of Bentyl tablets to take as needed at home, and was told to see my primary care physician for a more accurate diagnosis.

I saw my internist the next Monday afternoon on August 23rd.  He ordered more blood testing for thyroid problems and celiac disease (at my mention).  Those came back okay.  He told me to see a gastroenterologist to see if more testing is indicated, possibly a CT scan, scope, or camera pill.

I saw a gastroenterologist Friday afternoon on August 27th.  By this time, I'd tried the nuts again and noticed another episode of worsening symptoms, so I mentioned a possible nut allergy to the doctor, as well as all my other worries which were basically wallpapering the office with pamphlets of all the various conditions I'd read about online - diverticulitis, pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney stones, liver problems, diabetes, etc.  

He was nice enough, but didn't seem concerned about all the things on my mind.  He noticed I listed probiotics on my drug list and asked me how long I've been taking them.  A couple years, at least, I'm sure, I told him.  I added that they've helped me with the IBS when I was first having trouble, and that this bout didn't seem to be like the IBS I'd had before.  (I'm not experiencing any urgencies this time.)  Without ordering any additional tests, he instructed me to stop taking the probiotics for 2-3 weeks and see if my symptoms improve.  If not, see him again and perhaps he will try an antibiotic.  In short, he suspects a possible bacterial overgrowth in my gut.

Although the doctor never used the term, I recall having read about SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) being a problem for fibromites like myself.  Sure enough, the symptoms seem to overlap with my own, though I'm not having all of the symptoms listed. (Those symptoms associated with the "output" of the digestive system seem to be absent.)

So, I've stopped taking my probiotic since the morning of August 28th and I'll see if things improve.  So far, so good, but I have not tested myself against those nuts after the last two times.  Don doesn't want me to suffer, but I'm very curious to see if might are the cause of my problems.  I've also stopped having almond milk (I like Silk Almond Milk with my cereal in the mornings).  None of my doctors seemed concerned about the nuts, even though I mentioned them to each one.

I have an appointment to see my gastroenterologist again on Friday, September 17th that I will cancel if I feel better nearer that date.  I will keep you all informed about what happens.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The "I Don't Like This" List

So far in my exploratory journey of self-awareness, here are some things I've noticed about my behaviors that I don't like.
  • I pour a full bowl of cereal in the mornings, and sometimes I even refill and have a second bowl.  I love cereal and always have.  I guess it's one of my comfort foods.  But I always wish I could just eat a normal sized portion and leave it at that, like Don does.  As I pour the cereal, I wish I could stop myself at half a bowl, but I haven't been able to do that much lately.
  • I tend to do my binging at or after breakfast time on weekdays, or just before leaving work in the early evenings.  These are times when I'm alone and tend to cave to temptations.  In the mornings, I used to dig into the peanut butter jar (when we had some in the house), just before leaving for work.  In the evenings, I am usually good, but if I know there are snacks available, I taste, then ravage them.  It's almost as if the taste of the forbidden sets me off into some no-holds-barred eating event.  I need to be aware of this as it's happening.
  • My weaknesses are for: peanut butter, crispy salty foods like chips and crackers, sweets like donuts and cupcakes and chocolate treats, and I know I've always loved the blander cereals and breads.
  • I enjoy healthy foods but I tend to grab the quick stuff rather than prepare something healthy, even if we have the ingredients.  Perhaps having healthier options ready to grab will help me here.
  • I have caved into cravings, thinking I could handle an indulgence here or there, but it seems like one thing always leads to another and the indulgences get out of control.  I end up regretting them.
  • My fear of Fibromyalgia flares, along with some sort of procrastinational tendencies, seems to be standing in the way of my exercising more regularly.  I love taking walks with Don and have been in the habit of taking the stairs to the plaza at work, but I wish I could implement a regular exercise routine into my day again. 
  • I seem to have taken the easy way out on some of the above by using Fibromyalgia as a crutch or an excuse to do so.  If this keeps up, eventually I will not challenge myself to do anything anymore because I'm chronically ill.  I don't want to stagnate, regardless of the reasons.  I need to associate long-term healing with activities that may bring about temporary flares.

Now, here is a list of the things I would like to see as changed behaviors:
  • I'd like to be more prone to select healthier, lower calorie foods for snacking, even though it may not be what I'm craving or as easy to grab as something less healthy.  I like salads and healthy meals when they are served to me, but I have a hard time doing the work required to get these things prepared for myself unless I am motivated.  I want to be motivated more often.  I want to motivate myself more effectively.
  • I'd like to be able to handle an occasional indulgence without going completely overboard about it.  I want to be able to take a reasonable serving and put the rest away and forget about it, rather than obsessing and negotiating about it.
  • I'd like to be able to use my time more productively so I can feel better about myself, rather than beating myself up about wasting time doing frivolous things or nothing at all.
  • I'd like to journal more and be honest about myself in the journal.  It's my own private place - why does committing my feelings to words on paper seem so damning?  I seem to be much better at being honest in my blogs, which is even weirder, since this is public.  Perhaps I'm not comfortable with keeping things private.  I should be okay with having feelings that I keep private.
  • I want to be brave enough to stop and talk to someone when I know I'm about to have a binge.
These are just a few of the things I've noticed after my last blog's epiphany.  I will, of course, continue to observe and reflect on what I'm doing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Funk

I realized today, as I sat at home, sick with some virus, that I've got some issues to work out.  In a nutshell, I'm doing some binge eating, I've completely fallen off all of my "wagons," and I feel like I might be slipping into some sort of depression (again).  

I'm restless, unable to rest, yet unable to do anything productive.  There are things that are not that difficult that I should do, yet I don't feel able to concentrate enough on them to get them done properly.  Even this blog post had to wait until I forced myself to take action.  I've been kind of watching crap tv all day, not really able to understand what it's all for.  The reality shows are interesting, but I found myself wondering how those people manage to go to work and focus on getting their stuff done.  These hosts have jobs and they are helping people.  It sounds like a great gig.  Then I imagine what it would be like if I were to step into their shoes.  It was unnecessarily overwhelming.  Even a thought-exercise like that was too much for me today.  What is happening to me?  That doesn't seem right.

This time, however, I feel like I may be a tiny bit ahead of the game than the last time, simply because I'm not afraid to be aware of these feelings I'm having.  I'm behaving in ways I don't like and feeling somewhat powerless over the behaviors.  The behaviors come and go, so I have this false sense of control, peppered with extreme regrets and disappointment, disguised as mere setbacks, to help me move on.  

Truly, there is something messed up happening in my brain and I need to take more assertive action before it gets any worse.  I don't know how I'm going to proceed just yet, but at least I'm thinking about it and admitting that it's happening now.  People go through these kinds of things all the time, right?  I've seen movies.  People see shrinks.  Sometimes they find solutions, sometimes, they don't.  I was hoping that I could engage in self-therapy, what with all my researching knack and being cognizant about all this mess.  Then I realized that the journaling and the blogging has become less frequent.  I don't know how honest I've been with myself about some of these things in my own private journal, but I still feel like it hasn't been completely.  

I'm in a funk and I'm aware of it.  Perhaps calling it a "funk" is another way for me to soften the news to myself.  I don't know.  I'm still sorting through things and hoping to figure out a more effective plan for removing myself from it.

Does any of this make sense to you?  Does this kind of reflection belong in a private forum, rather than out here, for all the world to see?  Does it make you uncomfortable to know that this is what I'm going through?  My intent, of course, is not to make any of my readers uncomfortable, but rather twofold: to help me stick to pursuit of a plan to make positive changes, and to help my readers (I know someone out there must know where I'm coming from).

I've decided I am going to fight the funk and seek solutions.  I now know what hasn't been working for me with regard to the diet and exercise plans that I so carefully laid out in older posts.  I'm going to mark this as a less-ambitious, yet still very important, observational phase of my self-improvement project.  I need to understand when and why I fall into the kinds of behaviors I don't like.  Well, first, I need to identify all the behaviors that I don't like.  I'm working on this.  I'm hoping I can continue to keep my journey public, for the benefit of you and me.  

Let's learn together and pick each other up as we fall.  I know I'll fall.  I think it's important to realize that.  But I must learn to get back up again.  Feel free to publicly or privately share your thoughts on any of this.  I welcome your feedback.  Well, I guess I might not welcome some crap "suck it up" sentiments, but I am at least ready for that possibility.

Thanks for reading.