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.