Friday, May 8, 2009

HUGE Improvement

I have been doing very well eating with the anti-spasmodic medication. The first time I had some very mild pains but nothing that would detract from the joy of an egg and white toast.

I repeated the medication / toast+egg exercise this morning with the same results and then ate a single slice of toast and honey at 2pm without medication. The GE told me it can work pretty fast since it is absorbed sub-lingually and so I tried to eat. I think it worked. It has been 6 hours since that toast and I have no discomfort beyond a bit of backache.

Since then, I have eaten dinner. My bland diet was dover sole with some white rice and boiled carrots. I am very hopeful that whatever I have/had is diminishing and I will be able to avoid any further testing. I shall know by 10pm whether I am better or it is just the medication providing the benefit.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

GE Opinion

The gastroenterologist was swift to reach a decision: it is quite likely that it is an intestinal infection of some kind and he hopes I will recover on my own. He has prescribed antispasmodics to reduce pain if I try and eat. He encouraged me to eat some white bread and a scrambled egg, which I have done. I am not sure what is going to happen but am hopeful it is not as bad as before.

However, if I am not better by Monday, I have an endoscopy scheduled. That is when they sedate you and stick a tube down your throat. He says that my symptoms are "not typical of an ulcer" but they can "look around" if I still need it and take biopsies if necessary.

I shall update later on how I am doing with the food.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More appointments scheduled

I have a few more appointments ahead. Today, I am going to see Christina, our naturopath, in the hope that she will give me some ideas on foods or fluids to try or even herbal teas to soothe my stomach. That is at noon.

Then tomorrow at 1.30pm I have an appointment with a gastroenterologist in Fremont. I took the first available gastroenterology appointment - the Dr Tobin who was widely recommended to me was booked out until May 13th so I cannot see him at this point.

I spoke to my regular doctor and he said that when he mentioned antacids he was not trying to diminish my condition but just to see whether we could reduce the acid enough to eat a little more. We agreed to try no more challenges until I see the GE.

I am going to Bastyr soon (the natural healing dispensary) to buy some healthy electrolytes to add to water instead of the gatorade.

Bad night

I didn't get much sleep last night. I ate gruel - honestly it was just clear broth - for dinner but a bout of upper abdominal agony started around 9pm and only subsided enough for sleep by 3am. Wren woke at 5.30am.

I feel as if I have been reduced to a tunnel focusing on my stomach and survival. At times everything else seems very bright and definite but unrelated to my life - like tiny snowflakes falling across my vision. There is no urgency to do anything except plod onwards and try and get an answer.

By contrast, I have become quite attached to a particular branch of the cedar outside our window. Lying on the couch its branch makes a curl that reminds me of Japanese prints in which you see each needle of a fir in crystalline clarity. Nothing more.

It is surprisingly reassuring to look at that twig. Very peaceful.

I am trying to do normal things to pass the time between not eating and having attacks of pain. I am enjoying laundry. I am medicating our diabetic cat. I am discovering that big floppy clothes are comforting and that Wren likes to finger my pajamas. I like the rain. Bad weather smooths out the differences between the sick and the well. When its stormy nobody is water skiing and picnicking and its ok to have a remote control on which the buttons are worn wobbly. It is lousy to feel lousy when everyone else is celebrating "the great spring weather". Humph.

Its ok, you can tell me I am a curmudgeon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CAT report

My abdominal scan was normal. The doctor has recommended I see a gastroenterologist and "try some Pepsid AC or other antacid to see if that enables you to.. um... take some food."


Perhaps I am overreacting but that makes me feel as if he doesn't appreciate what I am experiencing. I am supposed to just kind of try and eat some food with an OTC antacid?


I don't sense any urgency.

I need to eat, urgently.

This evening I have had a cup of clear chicken broth I made myself and a 1/2 cup of fruit & veggie juice blend.

CAT Scan

I have just returned from a CAT scan of my abdomen. A CAT scan machine is like a donut the size of a jet engine. You lie on a bed and get moved through the donut slowly as it takes pictures.

I did not need contrast dye because they got a good picture without it.

The initial comment from the radiographer was "I don't see anything exciting." He added that he would go over the pictures in detail before making a report to my doctor. I should hear that report today.

My doctor said that he wanted the CAT scan because he would hate to overlook anything important "like a mass." I think a mass would be exciting so I am pleased that there was nothing exciting. I am sad there was not immediate diagnosis like "OMG you have a pair of scissors in your abdomen!" or "your appendix looks like a boot."

If the results are as benign as I suspect, the doctor is referring me urgently to a gastroenterologist. He said that this "has gone on long enough" and he thinks he can get me in soon by "pressing them."

I am trying to drink V8 splash in small quantity in hopes that it will be a better source of calories than the Gatorade. The v8 splash is now available in Passionfruit which is my favorite flavor since Australia. It is sadly neglected in the US.

According to the Doctor my labs show that my blood protein and fat levels are still adequate. So, at least on Friday, my body wasn't eating my brain for food. That's what it feels like.

I could get all philosophical on you about how food is an obsessive centre to our culture and that I now understand, grasp, see, realize and appreciate why monks and others seeking spiritual truth mortify the flesh with fasting and deny voluptuous foods. Without food my mind is going around and around in an addictive way looking for SOMETHING GOOD. I nearly bought an orchid at the supermarket (shopping for my family dinner I can't eat) because it was going to be A TREAT for me instead of the waffle-icecream-muffin I would have had in my fantasies. I can't find anywhere to sit in public that isn't adorned with food or coffee. People seem to move around festooned with food.

Perhaps when all this is over I shall undertake an intentional fasting retreat and examine this in more detail. For now, I am going to unpack the yummy treats I have bought for Frost and Wren who are the new proxy for my own stomach.

Easter Bilby

Taking a break from the ongoing abdominal developments (next appointment with the doctor is at 11.30am), I thought I would catch up on some Australiana, EASTER in particular.

Easter weekend in Australia is traditionally the last big camping trip of summer. Everyone goes camping or away to the beach / hills / mountains with a trailer and kids in tow. Leading up to the easter weekend the supermarkets and stores are full of large foil wrapped chocolate easter eggs which come in many shapes: bunnies, people, wombats and bilbies.

The Easter Bilby (see below) is supposed to be Australia's answer to the Easter Bunny. The Bunny is not a popular critter in Australia - it was introduced and became a feral species. at times in history it has reached plague proportions and led to the extinction of native species of quoll and other small marsupials so it was felt (by some) that it was inappropriate to have a holiday which inspired children to love the bunny. For all that, bunnies still outnumber bilbies as is probably the case in a more general sense as well.

We were at Port Julia for Easter and hid eggs and bilbies and even a chocolate wombat around the house for the kids to find. Every time Wren found a treat he said "eat 'im up now?" and started to open it. Both boys ate a lot of chocolate.
Wren eats the Chocolate Chicken. I loved the chicken and it reminded me of the book of Max and Ruby and the Chocolate Chicken which Frost enjoyed.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Abdominal pain etiology unk

According to my discharge note I have:


"This means that the cause of your abdominal pain is not clear. Most causes of abdominal pain go away on their own. However, appendicitis or other significant problems are still possible, but surgery and further tests do not appear to be needed at present. Follow up with you physician and re-evaluation are extremely important."

In other words, they poked and prodded and ultrasounded me and all the important parts look normal. I have a normal looking liver. There are no pockets of fluid or blood in my abdomen where they should not be. There are no gall stones or sign of thickening of the gall bladder. My kidneys are all clear. My heart is not enlarged and looks good. My aorta is unusually anterior (ie feels enlarged) but is of normal size.

They have no idea what is wrong with me and hopes it goes away on its own.

Anyway, now I am not obviously dying on anyone it is someone else's problem.

I am depressed, starving, exhausted and in some mild discomfit but its sunny. Its still sunny.

No Improvement

Frost suggested to me that if HE had my sickness and lived on a desert island he would pick one of those young coconuts from a tree and smash it open with a rock and drink the water inside. This was after a conversation in which he nagged to drink my Gatorade (my primary source of calories) and didn't understand that I couldn't drink his Odwalla.

I had an absolutely awful afternoon yesterday. The food I ate over 6 hours (a slice of white toast, chicken broth with noodles, a 1/4 cup of applesauce and plain yoghurt) was too much and I had the worst attack of the stomach convulsions. I lay in bed wishing for prescription painkillers for 8 hours (those of you who know me may recall I never used the prescriptions given after labor and had no pain meds for either delivery so this was BAD). It subsided at 10pm and I slept OK.

When I woke this morning it was back to a dull nonspecific ache but I am really done with not knowing what it is. Have I developed a sudden food allergy, a hidden bowel obstruction, appendicitis? I am just frustrated that its the weekend and, facing either 30 hours of clear fluids followed by a wait for a doctor's appointment, I have decided to check out the ER.

I don't know if they will see me. I mean, I can be pretty OK if I don't eat. We shall see what they say.