If you follow me on Twitter , Instagram , or read yesterday’s post , you’d know that I was cheezin’ like crazy yesterday morning after I left my ultrasound appointment. The news of no gallstones is great news! And then I spoke to a nurse at the GI’s office and was told that all of the other test results looked good too – my gallbladder is working at 80% which is phenomenal. More great news! The nurse said that my doctor would be in touch later in regards to what he thinks we should do next…
Between entering contracts, updating contact information, and sending email blasts at work, I anxiously waited by my phone. 2PM, 3PM, 4PM. No call. Knowing that the office closed at 4:30PM I assumed that he would call tomorrow, bummer. I opted to take a rest day from the gym and after some convincing from Ryan, I ended up at the mall to get a pedicure [i.e. emphasis on “cure”].
Just as I was about to pick out my polish my phone rang - it was my GI doctor. I without a doubt turned around, waved “1 minute please” to the nail technician, and stepped outside. After 15 or so minutes of listening to my doctor review the results I felt blessed to know that everything appeared fine.
“Your gallbladder looks great! It’s functioning well, actually quite well, as a matter of fact. The ultrasound came back negative. Your colonoscopy for the most part was negative. And the endoscopy was negative, with the exception of some swelling and connective tissue damage – an indication of lupus, which you already know.”
“So… What’s next? What does that mean?” I proceeded to ask him and was unprepared for his response.
“Well, do you think any of this could be due to anxiety? Do you feel overly stressed? Maybe we should look at other potential factors.”
All I wanted to say is “Are you freaking kidding me?” but I didn’t and I froze. It felt like time had stopped. Sure, I’ve definitely had my fair share of stressful moments in the past. When my younger brother was in and out of the hospital, battling a chronic disease. When my parents got divorced in high school. Writing term papers and taking final exams in college. Applying to teaching jobs and hoping to get at least 1 interview. Graduating and moving home. Planning a wedding. Taking a leap of faith and switching careers.
Heck yes, I’ve been stressed and I bet those moments mentioned above have caused my body unnecessary stress, but right now? No way.
I have a roof over my head. I have a full-time job. I am married to the love of my life. I have a family and group of friends who are by my side through the laughter and the tears. I have a puppy that provides me with unconditional love every single day. I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long time [minus the tummy troubles]. And I just got back from my honeymoon in paradise.
So no, I am not stressed in the least at this time.
Then the moment unfroze, I snapped to, and I gathered my thoughts… “I agree that stress could be a factor in this all, but I do not believe that it’s the root of the problem. I’ve experienced these symptoms for what now is almost 4 years. I’ve experienced different, yet somewhat similar, stomach pain as a child. And the past month has probably been one of most stress-free periods in my life, yet the pain has persisted and worsened.”
In that moment I felt as if he was kindly telling me that “It’s all in your head.” That the debilitating and stabbing pains I’ve been experiencing, the off and on cycles of constipation and diarrhea, the excessive bloated belly, the feelings of nausea, and the excessive gas [sorry, TMI] is all fabricated in my head. I felt shattered. Did he just call me crazy?
“Allison, I’m sorry but I just don’t know.”
Those three words “I don’t know” are never what anyone wants to hear from a doctor. Doctors are the experts in the medical field and supposed to know all of the answers. I know that’s an exaggeration and not always true, but they definitely know a lot more than you or I do. Heck, if I plugged all of my symptoms into WebMD I bet I’d have a list of 50+ potential problems and advised to seek medical attention immediately.
The conversation ended with a plan to reconvene in a week or two. In the meantime I’m supposed to keep track of my symptoms, give the new medicine more time to “kick-in,” and to contact my rheumatologist. There is evidence that my stomach is swollen and there are signs of connective tissue damage [a symptom of lupus] so he suggested that I discuss everything with my rheumatologist for his take on it all.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel discouraged. The whole time I was getting a pedicure all I could think about was what he said “Well, do you think any of this could be due to anxiety? Do you feel overly stressed? Maybe we should look at other potential factors.”
Ryan met me after my nails dried for impromptu 30-minute massages because we had a free coupon and I thought a massage might help to alleviate all of my pent-up “anxiety and stress” [insert sarcasm]. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that we’re regulars at Magic and Health – a hole in the wall massage joint in the mall – but it’s awesome and it’s cheap. We didn’t get home until late, ate dinner by the TV, and I hoped into bed… Only to spend an hour or so looking at “Ridiculously Cute Animals” before I fell asleep.
First thing this morning I put a call into my rhuematologist and he quickly responded, saying that I should see a motility expert since autoimmune diseases can oftentimes affect digestive motility. He put me in touch with a senior GI at his hospital [a different location than my current GI] who comes highly recommended and has experience with “undiagnosable” symptoms.
I already feel a bit of relief…
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. That a little faith can go a long way. That everything will work itself out. And I know that whatever is going on will get resolved, whether it’s now or later. An optimistic outlook is always better than a pessimistic perspective.