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What’s Wrong with That Tummy?

February 21, 2011

I have spent the last five years feeling (at least 60% of the time) like there is an inflated balloon in my abdomen. And in the sprit of over-disclosure which you have all come to enjoy, I will tell you that the way the noisy streets of Buenos Aires mask the sounds of the farts I hold in (sometimes for hours, in the company of others) is one of the things that makes living in such a noisy place tolerable.

In space, no one can hear you scream. In Buenos Aires, no one can hear you fart.

Original Photo: TheCulinaryGeek (click to go).

Without getting too, too graphic, I’m sick, at least a little sick, almost all the time, and I’ve come to view it as my body’s natural state.

I’m only 35, but I’ve had to give up so many things I enjoy already. Alcohol/drugs/The US = psychosis. Cigarettes = bronchitis. Milk = vomit. Cheese = gas. Soy = malaise, rashes, headaches, and worse.

Is it that I know whatever I’ll find out will only restrict me more that’s kept me from the doctor? Or is it my general distrust of doctors? Is it my lack of health insurance (my most severe health problem and one that’s been a fact of life for me for over 10 years)? Some combination of all of these?

Maybe it’s that I really don’t want to be one of the people who, when given the option of several perfectly good foods in someone’s home or in a restaurant says, “Oh, I don’t eat that.” I don’t like being the person that turns down anything fried, covered in cheese, or lubed-up with mayonnaise and will often eat things I know are going to make me feel like dog-shit rather than be that person.

But as the years go by, the times I refuse to be the party whiner are becoming more painful. So, yes. Now I will turn down your beer, your wine, your fucking empanada, your god damn pizza, and the motherfucking ice-cream that makes you fake an orgasm in front of the entire heladería. Yes, I already am that extra special snowflake that can’t have what you’re having. And I’ll try not to be a crybaby about it.

But I just don’t want there to be anything else I can’t have.

So whatever my reasons, I have put off seeing the doctor about whatever my problem is for years and years. Until today.

Today, my boyfriend Seba scheduled a session with the gastroenterologist for me, and there was no escape. Aside from having to go into grueling detail about the nature of my bowel movements in front of my boyfriend, it is really one of the most romantic things anyone has ever done for me. How else do you tell someone you really care besides saying, “Enough fucking around. You’re going to the doctor.” Really. Don’t read sarcasm where there is none.

Of course the doctor told me that 90% of what I enjoy eating will have to go for now. No peaches. No watermelon. No oranges. No peas. No coffee. Oh, and I’m supposed to drink lactose free milk (For the love of all that’s holy, no.). And I have pouted and frowned and felt sorry for myself (as much as it hurts to admit that).

But if I can’t have all those things, or booze, or cigarettes, I can have a guy in my life who won’t let me wiggle out of going to the doctor. And really, if that’s not romance, I don’t know what is.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2011 11:29 pm

    Oh, Kate, I can so relate. And it sucks to be that person at parties, not only because you yourself hate being that person, but everyone else secretly (or not so secretly) hates you too.

    I’ve been “battling” with my stomach for about 12 years now. Not to be “one of those people”, but there is hope. I can eat at least a little bit of just about everything now (except for gluten, which I guess discounts a lot of foods, though trust me, you can eat so pretty shitty-for-you foods that are GF), which I couldn’t dream of just a couple of years ago.

    Hope the visit to the gastroenterologist helps. Also not to be “one of those people” who throws unwanted advice at you, but when my stomach starts to go on the fritz again, the first place I head back to is digestive enzymes before every meal (full spectrum ones that provide the enzymes to break down protein, fat, lactose, and carbs that your body is not producing for one reason or another). Plus that stress factor. It’s a bitch on the tummy.

    And romance is not dead!

    • February 22, 2011 12:07 am

      Thanks, Christine! Do you have any links about those enzymes? I was given a prescription for something people with ulcers take (also has an IBS drug component) and, though he says he doesn’t think it’s celiac, I go to get blood tested for that this week. It’s so sad that I have been willing to ignore this for so long, but now I want to know as much as I can to cut down on the cost as well as to know what I need to be doing.

      You’re so much more together than I am!

      • February 22, 2011 11:43 am

        Ohhh! Can totally relate. Been battling this for awhile now (in the form of burping) since I moved to Sweden. Darn Swedes with their creamy buns!

        Lots of great advice from Christine too. And Seba is definitely a good man.

      • February 22, 2011 12:02 pm

        Swedes and their creamy buns! Ha! Feel better, Lola.

  2. February 22, 2011 1:20 am

    What a good guy.

  3. February 22, 2011 2:20 am

    Good man, Seba!

  4. February 22, 2011 1:14 pm

    Here’s a little info on enzymes: http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/digestive-enzymes/

    I’d say most brands of digestive enzymes should be decent as long as they are full spectrum. Not sure what you can find on the shelves there, but here’s a vitamin site that has a bunch of choices:

    http://www.vitacost.com/productResults.aspx?Ntk=products&Ntt=Digestive%20Enzymes&csrc=PPCADW-digestive_enzymes&mtp=so4Se3f4r|pcrid|6784089851&refcd=GO000000110908440s_Digestive_Enzymes&tsacr=GO6784089851 (there are some that have digestive enzymes in them, but aren’t full spectrum – look for the word “enzyme” to be the main thing in their name)

    Only companies on there that I’m not a big fan of are Twin Lab, Country Life and American Health.

    Great thing about digestive enzymes is that they basically help with anything that the IBS umbrella oversees, including ulcers. So whatever it is you are going through, they should help to improve at least a little bit. Good luck, let me know if you have other questions.

    • February 22, 2011 1:43 pm

      Wow! Thanks, Christine! Yeah, I’m not sure what they’ve got here. But the good news is it’s bound to be cheaper than there, right? I’ll have to look into it, starting with the Spanish word for enzyme. I guess I should probably ask the doc, too… You’re a champ for coming through with this info. I really appreciate it!

  5. February 25, 2011 4:42 am

    Aaah, Kate, I can relate. (Holy shit that rhymed.) My husband and I are dealing with off and on acid reflux that can really rage sometimes, and we sort of know what to avoid but sometimes it just feels like starvation is the only answer. I’m so glad Seba made you go to the doctor! Hope it helps a bunch.

    • February 25, 2011 5:50 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! So far, a bit better. You always make me feel okay about over-sharing. 🙂

  6. March 27, 2011 12:53 pm

    Wow, not fun to go through — though on the upside you have a really good guy there!

    And yes I tried to make that rhyme like you earlier smarter commenters, but couldnt think of how to work “pie” in… maybe your good guy will buy you apple pie? Hmmm…

  7. May 31, 2011 9:53 am

    Kate, I too have had bad tummy for many years. I saw so many doctors and medical practitioners but nobody could help me. Finally, I went vegan and the problem just vanished. Not only that, now my stomach feels hungry precisely 15 mins before meal times, and purge my bowels regularly everyday too. And I feel so much more alert at all times. So try the vegan lifestyle, and abstain from all meat, eggs and dairy products including cheese and milk. I am really certain it will work for you too.

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