29 May 2012

Gut-truth, angels, waiting for the apocalypse

I know I've written here before, obliquely or directly about my lifelong battle with my guts.
I was 9 or 10, on my way to an ill-fated 3 days at camp when I had my first attack that I remember.
Diagnosed via old-school long barium x-ray series and inflexible scope/horrid biopsy as "healing ulcerative colitis" when I was about 10, and again in early adult hood as "IBS", and from one obnoxious Dr. it was due to me being an "emotional female"... *cough*biteme*cough*

I've been on a million medications, some relatively benign (Lomotil), some not (phenobarbital), tried therapy, hypnosis, food allergy testing, rotation diets, bio feedback, dropping out of school...
tried herbs and ozone and colonics...

I've made many life decisions based on this pretty intensely debilitating thing. Avoided mornings. Travel. Excitement. Anxiety. Avoided all known triggering foods (leading to a very limited diet).  Limited my choices, options, experiences, ideas.... I lived smaller than I would have, more fearfully, more carefully, more cautiously.

A few years before Della when I was doing acupuncture, my practitioner suggested sensitivity testing and I said yes... based on the results, this time I went completely gluten and dairy free, and within three days (THREE DAYS) was so much better it was as if I'd been visited by angels. Seriously, from three attacks a week to NONE.

I've been almost completely in remission since.  Occasional echoes, but mostly? Fine.  Fine enough to imagine things I would have done, if only I could have.  Fine enough to feel bad for my young self who had to be so careful.

Then this morning, 2 hours of badness.  A reminder with the only obvious cause an uptick in stress. And I remember everything I hate about it. The shaky intensity, the exhaustion, the depletion... the real mystery of whateveritis. But the rhythm of it, this I know. I know the waves. The rocking. The breathing. The waiting.
Blessed to have a bathroom and time, and access to both...

This afternoon, I am fine. And it almost feels like I imagined it.
I expect to be fine tomorrow.
I expect to be fine in general, which is why it surprises me so much when it happens.

After so long without actively having to deal with it, I can say this: I did not miss it.

I wanted to write this since IBS and the evil cousins are pretty common.  I know it is true for many in the IF community. To you I say-- try gluten free. It sucks. It is not easy. It takes planning and consciousness.  But for me, this combination of no dairy, no gluten has been a life saving change.  I forget to mention it because it is just the way I live now.  Try a week. For others in my family it was key not only to gut stuff but mood and energy stuff as well.

As for my own guts? Trying to be compassionate.  And not extrapolate to the apocalypse.  So far, so good.


markmarv2004 said...

As you probably know, your recitation of your history accurately and sadly describes your own father. I helped myself by figuring out that the main culprit was peanuts (peanut butter)and put icing on that discovery with your and Sarah's help and became gluten-free. Maybe now I'll be free to be the surgeon I thought I wanted to be, but...
Love PA

Joannah Labrador said...

Story of MY life!!! Ugh...

I've never been able to identify any food triggers. It really seems to vary. Stress, though, is a for-certain trigger. My first acupuncture doctor had me on some herbs that really triggered me, too. Just awful. He couldn't consider that his herbs were making me sick, either. Michael was really frustrated with all that. We discontinued them because that kind of inflammation could not have been good for my fertility.

Lately, it's been a pretty regular thing, and I'm trying to live with it as best I can. A colonoscopy just two years ago gave me a clean bill of health. I've only missed one day of school this year due to IBS issues. Oh, and my youngest niece is struggling with it, too. I hope Michaela has her dad's iron constitution.

Be well, friend.

Anonymous said...

I have also been diagnosed with both over the years. I have suffered, though perhaps not as acutely as you. I've been dairy free for about 4 years and lordy - what a difference. Some people say "oh, how do you do it? I couldn't live without ______ (cheese, ice cream, alfredo) but I can't imagine living with it now that I've felt so much better for all these years. I hope it's an isolated incident and you're right as rain in the coming days.
Take care.