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Finally Got Some Answers

Posted Feb 11 2013 3:24pm

After weeks, months, and years of stomach pain.  After countless blood tests, examinations, and procedures.  We’ve finally got some answers.

Forewarning, this post is open and honest, maybe a bit TMI for some.  If you have a weak stomach check back tomorrow.  Sorry!

When I was younger I went through a period of time when I threw up every.single.night.  Regardless of what I ate, I spent many evening hours by the porcelain throne.  Thanks momma and dad for rolling out of bed and holding my hair back while rubbing my back.

I had a love-hate relationship with my stomach.  I loved it because it was a machine and I could pack down piles of food [one of the main reasons my BFF and I got along so well] but hated it because it was the main reason of numerous cancelled sleepovers- talk about a major buzz kill.

After visiting a few different doctors and drinking cup after cup of CT contrast that looked vaguely similar to Elmer’s Glue, no one could figure out what was causing my symptoms.  Ultimately, the doctors advised me to take Tums after my meals and a few months later my symptoms sporadically subsided.

In recent years my stomach problems have reappeared, but in a different form.  Debilitating cramps, constant bloating, and cyclical periods of constipation and diarrhea.

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving break of my junior year in college.  I was flying home from Boston and soon after the plane took off I got an intense, stabbing pain in my abdomen and the only comfortable position was with my head between my knees.  Those 2 hours felt like 2 days.

As soon as the plane landed I immediately called Ryan and my momma.  Ryan met me down at baggage claim, called 9-1-1, and shortly after we were off to the hospital where my momma met us.  The doctors asked me what were my symptoms, did an examination, and pumped me with morphine.  Within a few hours the pain had relinquished so they sent me home.

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Over the next few years I continued to experience the cyclical cycles so I scheduled an appointment with a GI doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital.  After reviewing my labs, he couldn’t find anything that appeared to be irregular so he ordered a CT scan which again was inconclusive.  The next step was a colonoscopy but since it was the spring of my senior year I decided to hold off with the procedure until I got home.

I waited longer than I should have but eventually the colonoscopy in the spring of 2012 which you can read more about here .  Frustrated with the situation and since I was not currently experiencing any pain, I once again delayed redoing the procedure until this past fall.  You can read more about the second attempt here .

The doctor concluded that I have a very slow digestive system which could be due to either the lupus or something else, and diagnosed me with IBS.  Since then I’ve been taking medicine and vitamins daily, but the pain has continued.

When we got back from our honeymoon a couple of weeks ago my stomach started to feel wonky .  I thought that I may have caught a bug since there’s been so much going around this season but after a week of my symptoms worsening my momma suggested that I call my GI.  The doctor was able to squeeze me in last week and 2 hours later I walked away with a new prescription and an appointment for an endoscopy for Monday [today].

Over the weekend I was a bag of mixed emotions.  I know that things could be worse, things could always be worse, and many people out there are in far worse situations than myself.  But I’m at the point where I feel like I’ve been there, done that too many times and haven’t gotten any answers.  I’ve tried everything that the doctor’s have suggested, yet I haven’t experienced any relief.

I went into the procedure this morning feeling torn.  I was hoping that the doctor would find something so we could finally get some answers, but at the same time I didn’t want him to find anything.  I’ve always hated the unknown and when things have felt like they are out of control.  I like knowing what to expect next and to have a plan.  But in this case, my health is 100% out of my control.

Without any coffee or food in my belly, Ryan and I arrived at the doctor’s office this morning at 8AM sharp.  I completed the standard paperwork and was brought back to get prepped.  It took more time putting me to sleep and waking me up than the procedure itself, which lasted no more than 10 minutes.  While waiting for the doctor, the nurse brought me some refreshments and Ryan came back to sit with me.

A little while later, the doctor came over to give me the results.  Gastritis.  It’s all new to me as of 10AM this morning, but from the paperwork the doctor provided me with, I’ve learned that:

  • Gastritis means inflammation of the stomach
  • White blood cells move into the wall of the stomach in response to some type of injury
  • There are a few different causes of gastritis…
  1. Bacteria – learned to live in the lining of the stomach which causes inflammation; probably occurs in early childhood and remains throughout life unless antibiotics are used to treat it
  2. Immune system – makes antibodies in response to an infection but mistakenly targets organs as the infection [autoimmune diseases such as lupus]
  3. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Aspirin – reduce the protective substance in the stomach called prostaglandin
  4. Alcohol – can cause inflammation and injury to the stomach

So…  What does this all mean?  Essentially we’re in waiting.  From the endoscopy, the doctor was able to see that I have gastritis but cannot conclude why.  We can rule out causes 3 and 4 listed above, but 1 and 2 are still in question.  He’s not sure if it’s related to any of my previously diagnosed illnesses.  He prescribed me a medication that is supposed to help reduce the acid in my stomach and we should receive the biopsy results within the next 2 weeks.  How I feel and the results will determine our next steps.

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Again, things could be worse, they could always be worse.  I am relieved and thankful that we finally got some answers.  I am hopeful that my body will positively respond to the medicine and the results of the biopsies show that it’s just an infection.  My fingers [and toes] are crossed!

Question:  Have you ever heard of gastritis?  Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with it?

Question:  Ice cream, fro-yo, sorbet, or popsicles?

— Allison

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