Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Message received

My body isn't happy with me right now because I guess I'm not listening to it.  I'm not talking about weight related stuff but stress.

(source)


Back in 1998, when we were starting our first big weight loss journey, I lost 70 lbs in a relatively short amount of time.  I began to notice I was getting full very quick and then sometimes I would get nauseous.  It escalated and I would get this close to vomiting.  Now, I'd rather bargain with God for 10 hours than yak so I knew something was wrong.  I was checked for gallstones and had none.  I had a Hepatobiliary scan (where they shoot dye in to see if your gall bladder is emptying) and it came back on the low side of normal.  I was sent to an ENT who told me casually that in addition to a Eustachian tube disorder that I could have the beginnings of MS.  (I didn't.)  I had an endoscopy done to check for stomach cancer and the twilight meds didn't work so I was awake for the whole thing.  I had to ask three times if I had stomach cancer because they thought I was under anesthesia and ranting.  When I finally yelled "I'M FULLY AWAKE AND KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING WILL SOMEONE TELL ME IF I HAVE CANCER!?!?!"  They casually said no and had me walk to recovery.  Then I was sent to a neurologist to check for brain tumors and had an MRI done.  The result?  Nothing.  Oh, well there was the note from the neurologist to my general doc saying nothing was wrong with me and when I was told nothing was wrong, I didn't accept it and he labeled me "hysterical" and said it was all in my head.  I was then referred to a GI doctor who ran the Hepatobiliary scan again. Despite having it done before and being on the low end of normal, four months had passed since my first one and it caught my gall bladder shutting down.  I was referred to a surgeon and it was taken out a few weeks later.  A month later, I was still getting nausea and whenever I found myself in stressful situations, I'd be seconds from throwing up.

When I went back to my GI doctor asking what the hell was going on, he said he had many cases like mine and that it was called "functional nausea and vomiting."  It's basically how my body manifests stress and the body can't differentiate from good stress and bad stress.  So I could be worried about something or excited about something and my body reacts the same to a degree.  I was on very low dose pills to haze the part of my brain that would click this reaction on in my stomach.  It was fine but I'm not a pill person so after two years, I weaned myself off of them.  I also noticed my response to extreme stress would change.  Sometimes I could get dizzy.  Sometimes I got migraines.  Sometimes I went into full blown panic attacks when I couldn't breathe, felt like I was having a heart attack and would be down for the count.  I didn't have those issues before I began my medical mishap journey and after more than five months of being told "it's all in your head/there's nothing wrong with you", you start to question your sanity.  I could smack a few of those doctors for the way they made me feel.

No thanks to them, I found alternative ways to deal with these spells.  Breathing techniques worked wonders for me and learning to let go of my Virgo-esque perfectionism and stubbornness was essential.  Both are very hard for me to let go because it's just who I am and how I grew up.  I still love to present an experience for people who visit.  For example, when my mom and aunt came over last weekend, I had mulling spices on the stove so the smell of Fall would be in the air as they came in.  I hand squeezed lemons for lemonade.  I recreated a recipe from a restaurant we all loved back in the day.  I got my birthday cake in a flavor that was their favorite, not necessarily mine.  (But I'm never turning down chocolate cake but still, I'm a white on white girl)  I had rules that my grandmothers condition not be discussed or a branch of the family tree that are particularly frustrating because I wanted a laid back evening.  I got on the floor and ended up giving them foot massages even though the celebration was for me.  The Mr sometimes says I'm thoughtful to a fault and it's true.  It's even worse when it's not acknowledged.  I mean this was by both of them over the following days.  But there have been other times I've gone out of my way to make people feel loved and appreciated and didn't get a thank you or anything close in return from them ever.  Then it sends me into bits of self doubt, what's wrong with me, etc.  So you can see how my own brain works overtime and sends my body into fits.

The day before yesterday just as we were heading up to bed, my stomach started feeling weird.  By the time we got to the top of the stairs, I was salivating heavily which I recognized as a sign that I was going to hurl.  I told the Mr and asked for some Tums in case I ate something weird.  I sat in the bathroom and did some deep breathing and those old prayers started coursing through my head.  I tried to think of what I was thinking of when it hit and it was something stupid my mom said.  She said how I had her decorating style with my new makeover.  Thing is, my mom's house looks nothing like mine.  It's the equivalent of that Pinterest board you have that says something like "for my future house" where you pin a ton of stuff you know you'll never buy but your actual home looks nothing like it.  Well, I basically have all the stuff on her theoretical Pinterest board.  I didn't know why something so stupid bothered me but if I think about it, I suppose that in some way it felt like all of the time I spent putting into this remodel was brushed aside in one sentence of claiming I decorate like her when that isn't how she decorates.  Does that make ANY sense?  I didn't say it was Earth shattering or even intelligent.  But it goes back to that whole thing of feeling like this huge accomplishment was diminished even though that wasn't her intent.  I'm almost yakking on my keyboard just typing it.

That wasn't even the key thing that bothered me, it was just the stupid straw that broke my stupid stomach.  I've got two more weekends filled with entertaining, trying to set up something with someone else, having to turn other things down, thinking of all of the crap I'm behind on both here and at my shop and no planning accomplished for a road trip that is fast approaching.  I've got things swirling everywhere around me and my body is slapping me across the gut to get me to wake up to what needs to be done.  I need to make a to do list.  Something I can physically see and cross off as things are accomplished or this is going to be my fate every night and I forgot just how horrible this feels.

While I wish I could go the rest of my life without ever feeling this way again or wish I could unflip whatever switch was flipped during that period of complete medical ineptitude, there are times my body just reminds me that things need to get done.  It reminds me that while procrastinating is okay here and there, that if you procrastinate on too many things, they all tumble down on top of you.  So as much as I hate this, thank you body for smacking me around to what needs to be done.  Now, if you'll please vacate because the message has been received.

Were you ever misdiagnosed/had a bad medical experience?  

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14 comments:

  1. I remember the feelings of frustration, fear and just plain confusion during those times. Luckily you learned important lessons about how to deal with stress that continue to help you today.

    I understand why what your Mother said bothers you. I agree that she didn't even mean for it to but it's just that you put in so much work and she basically tried to take credit for it.

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    1. Yeah, I thoroughly blame the doctors for the development of the anxiety. I don't know how much longer it would've gone on if the GI doc didn't order the 2nd scan without the GP's approval. "In my head", my arse.

      It's like I know she was not trying to be mean or give me a backhanded compliment or anything like that. But lately any time I do something she deems to be 'creative', she always says "you get that from me" or "you have my style." Scrapbooking and major DIY projects are two totally different genres of creativity. I don't like scrapbooking because I have no patience or desire for it. She and I have always been opposite on our decorating styles my whole life and just because I filled my house with things she likes but doesn't actually have doesn't mean it's thanks to her I like it! LOL I know it probably sounds petty to others but when you put months into planning then executing your perfect look only to have someone say 'you decorate like me' when I don't, feels like all the hard work and planning is diminished.

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    2. Maybe you decorate like the version of her she sees in her mind's eye? You know like when you see someone's funky, unique style of dress and it's SO you, but for whatever reason you don't have the money, time, waist line, courage or whatever to rock that look right now, even though you love it. IDK. IDK. Family issues are so deep and layered. I get it.

      But as I read your post, I wanted to give you this: *b-i-i-i-g squishy virtual hug!** I can relate to just about everything you said. I just can't and won't put it all in a comment field. Darn you. Always hittin' me in the deep spots!

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    3. I think that is the case and I don't think she meant anything by it. But after hearing it a few times regarding different projects (the remodel, my antiques shop, anything creative) it's like "I haven't lived at home for 18 years, my style is mine!" We don't even talk about decorating ever so I guess that's why it keeps taking me off guard. The one thing she absolutely says she doesn't know where I got it is cooking. I was a latch key kid growing up on pizza rolls and anything else that could be microwaved while she worked 2 jobs. But I've always loved cooking...much to the Mr's delight! :-)

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  2. I've been fortunate to not have had awful medical experiences. I haven't liked all of my doctors, but they've all been competent. I do know quite a few people though that have gone through issues of misdiagnosis or inappropriate treatments.

    My stress manifests with a stomach-ache. Like, I can't breathe type stomach-ache. Sometimes there are other things (headaches, body aches, my left arm hurts, etc.) but almost always in times of intense stress my stomach hurts.

    I know your mom didn't mean anything by it, but I can totally understand your point. I'm sure she was just trying to tell you how much she liked the work you had done, but it doesn't sound like that's how it came across.

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    1. Yeah, we're less than enamored with ours these days as well. The passion is gone and so is her in network coverage. :-\

      Isn't that weird how stress can manifest in different ways but sometimes it has that one go to response?

      Yeah, I know that's what she probably meant but it just hit me wrong since it was like the 3rd or 4th time I've heard it. :-)

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  3. Oh how this hit the nail on the head for me! I've been struggling with some medical issues for the past two years - tons of tests, blood tests, biopsies, etc. Do you know that when I went to the neurologist at the beginning of my journey, she actually told me that "MORE THAN HALF YOUR PROBLEM IS YOUR WEIGHT" and brushed me off - way to go Doc! Almost caused me to stop going to the doctors, but I'm glad I didn't. I'm just recovering from a radical hysterectomy for endometrial cancer. Come on doctors, we know when we're overweight, but we also know when SOMETHING is wrong with our bodies! Hang in there Anele, you will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

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    1. OMG, if I hear one more time that something is weight related, I'm going to scream. When we were much heavier, our primary doc liked to blame everything from headaches to a hang nail on our weight. Finally it was like "I KNOW I'M FAT but that is NOT related to this issue!!!!" I'm sorry to hear you had to go through such an ordeal and surgery and wish you a speedy recovery. Being your own health advocate is SO important nowadays!

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  4. I didn't realize there was a medical explanation!!! Between stress, allergies and a failing gall bladder I've spent a large part of my life trying to figure out why I would throw up all the time. Finals week in college was total hell. I had stress headaches that would get so bad I'd throw up and my doc gave me a muscle relaxer for when it got bad. I guess I got lucky. Over time I've gotten better at identifying stress and removing it from my life. It means I have a job below my intellectual abilities but I'm quite happy to go home after 40 hours in the office and not have to deal with stress and the rage and nausea that come with a more challenging career.

    I'm so sorry you are having a resurgence of your issues but as always am grateful you choose to share. It feels less crazy when we know we aren't alone. Hopefully returning to regular breathing meditation will help, along with your list. As for Mom, sounds like she's really jealous. Here you are implementing the things she's dreamed about and probably knows deep down she'll never get around to. She's too jealous to give you an outright compliment but you are her baby girl so she tries to say something positive, not knowing she's diminishing your hard work. Hopefully your next round of visitors are less stingy with their praise and you can go back to patting yourself on the back for it. Cause you worked hard and deserve some praise.

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    1. Yep, definitely a medical explanation, it just takes finding the doctor that believes in cutting edge and new treatments (at the time, for me). They had me on 15mg of Elavil to control the nausea. (200mg and up are depression treatment levels so that tells you just how little I was taking) When I was at my office job, I too was at a job that was way below my abilities and I had several higher ups begging me to take the jobs at my level but I knew it came with more stress, longer hours expected, etc. Nope, not happening. So good on you for putting your health first!

      Yeah, I'm not glad to see this but it is giving me a bit of a wake up call and when I have nausea and do a "body check", I realize my abs are super tense and clenched. It forces me to be aware, then relax.

      She could be. I've offered to help her paint the pieces she has in the style she likes but then she recoils in horror at the thought of painting oak. "You don't paint real oak!" Well, if you're not in love with it and need to stay on a budget, you do! She did compliment things but then was quick with the 'you got it from me' thing. I don't even know if she knows she's doing it and I feel stupid for letting it get to me so much because I don't think there's any malice behind it. I'm just too sensitive for my own good sometimes. :-\

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  5. OMG, where do I start? The story is long and boring, but suffice it to say that after suffering with horrendous stomach aches for over a year, and having every test known to man, I was finally diagnosed with an ulcer after an endoscopy.This was in May. The gastroenterologist said, "How many aspirin were you taking?" A LOT! I quit taking aspirin (which I was taking for not only arthritic knee pain, but for the awful stomach aches), and the stomach aches went away immediately. It was such a simple thing to diagnose, why did it take so long? Then there's hub's cancer. He had been going to a Urologist for several years, and was constantly told it was just an enlarged prostate, no cancer. When it got to the point he could not pee at all, and they put him in the hospital and did a biopsy, it was too late. The cancer had spread to his bones and is now incurable, only treatable. I have a lot of frustration with doctors.

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    1. Isn't that the worst when you have to continue to go through testing and you go from feeling like "I hope they don't find anything" to "find SOMETHING because I know something is wrong!" If we aren't satisfied with what our 'regular' doc tells us, then it is always in our best interest to get a second opinion. We begged my in-laws to do that when his oncologist with a God complex didn't have his best interest at heart and they didn't want to "rock the boat" and it cost him his life. Next week will be 10 years since he's been gone and if they'd listened to me and run a simple blood test when he relapsed, he could've been treated. The doc later admitted it when it was too late. We put too much stock in doctors and sometimes not enough in ourselves. Always fight for your health!

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  6. I had the issue with my gallbladder as well when I was 25 and was told repeatedly that I had GERD. This was when Prilosec was brand new on the market and was so expensive I had to buy it one pill at a time at the Osco Pharmacy. I was told because I wasn't vomiting that I didn't have gallstones (even though my pain tolerance is very high, thus I'd get through the pain without throwing up). I was also told I was "too young" to have gallstones. After weeks of this crap, I finally had to go back and have my mother drive me (who'd just had quadruple bypass and should NOT have been driving) and they did an ultrasound to find out, lo and behold, I had 3 stones and had to have my gallbladder removed. Horrible experience.

    As for those seemingly non-important comments, oh sister, can I relate. I remember cooking Thanksgiving dinner at our apartment years and years ago and we had mom over and our neighbor from downstairs. I put this whole meal together and as we were eating our neighbor was so thankful for the meal and told me so and my mom said, "yeah, it's ok but the turkey is dry." My neighbor (who was a man) later said to me he didn't understand why people would make comments like that when they are invited over for a meal. I was so used to the comments, that I remember being very surprised that someone from "the outside" could see that what was said was rude and inappropriate. Fast forward to about five years ago and I had, again, decorated the whole house in an autumn theme and had cute games and party favors on the table. My mom said I went totally overboard and it was so unnecessary. Needless to say, after that meal (which I bawled about that entire weekend) I have never decorated like that again. I basically just do the table and that's it. Shame on me because I should do what I want to do, but I've squelched my creativity and "fun" side of myself so far down, that I basically just went through the motions after that. It just felt like "my day" (one which I poured my heart, soul, and money into) was never quite up to par, and I got tired of the casual comments that were a lot more painful than I acknowledged for a long time.

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    1. Aren't doctors the best? NOT! When will they understand WE know OUR bodies just fine and just because they don't want to be bothered doesn't mean we wanted to be pushed off like a nuisance. Jerks.

      You need to move here because I would appreciate your efforts! Do what makes YOU happy. Life is too short to worry if others think you're going overboard or whatever. When my mom told my aunt she felt bad I was the one cooking my birthday dinner (we usually go out to dinner, she buys) my aunt says "you know she likes to entertain." It's true. I like to put forth the effort and they appreciated everything I made. Even if people don't always react the way I hope, I always know the Mr will appreciate it all. He's told me almost every day how much he loves the house. Which reminds me, I should probably do a reveal soon! LOL

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