I finally got a chance to sit down and start typing again! I wanted to post a blog everyday or at least every other day but my kids keep me very busy. Here is a link to part 1 and part 2.
DISCLAIMER: Read at your own risk. Contains graphic descriptions that may ruin your appetite.
To pick up from where I left off last time, I had just started back to work and I was under a lot of stress. I had fallen back into my old pattern of eating, not for health but for emotional satisfaction. I've always felt a connection to happy memories from certain foods and also some foods just make me happy. Instant gratification actually makes me feel worse in the long run. I was eating out everyday, eating junk food, desserts, candy, and fast food. I was just trying to make it through the day and I wasn't watching what I was eating. I'd always had digestive problems and I would experience episodes every once in a while. About once a year, I would have a really bad episode and would be out of work for a few days. Usually I would experience watery stools, an upset stomach, mild stomach cramps, gas, and bloating. Over the counter medication, like Immodium AD would not work so I would go to my doctor and he always prescribed the same things every year. I would have watery bowels for 4-5 days until I took the medication and started to eat again. I would always put myself on the B.R.A.T. diet, which is bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast/bread. I was never sure what caused the episodes but they usually happened after eating a lot of fried food and spicy food. I was told about 10 years ago that I had irritable bowel syndrome or IBS but there were never any tests done to confirm it. In February my troubles were just beginning.
This particular episode, in February, was really bad. I woke up in the middle of the night, vomiting. My stomach emptied itself and at the same time I was having diarrhea. I was having intestinal cramping which rivaled child birth pains and I thought I was dying! I ended up laying in bed with a trash can by my head and I think I woke up every hour to run to the toilet. It was a Friday night because I remember the next day when I called my doctor the office was closed and he didn't have an after hours call service. Every time I tried to sip water, I vomited. I couldn't keep down the Immodium AD and all I had was some expired prescription medication. I wanted to go to the hospital because I couldn't eat or drink anything all day. I finally decided to try the expired pills but I had to keep it down for at least 20 minutes to give it chance to dissolve and get into my system. I chose to dry swallow the pills and they didn't come right back out so I just laid down and waited. Thankfully, it worked! By dinnertime the cramping had subsided and I was able to sip Gatorade to try to replenish all the fluid I lost. It was a good thing that it was Saturday because my husband was home and he was able to take care of the kids. I was not in the condition to take care of anyone that day. I continued to take the expired meds because they were helping and I was able to eat and drink the next day. It took about one week to fully recuperate from that episode although I did go to work on Monday and I never went to see the doctor. I was mad at him because I couldn't get in touch with him over the weekend.
The next month, March, I got sick again. It wasn't as bad as the first time as far as the vomiting, but the cramping was just as bad. Again I had watery stools that kept me up all night, I vomited the contents of my stomach, and the cramping was so painful. I had some more symptoms that I didn't have last time. I developed a fever, a cough, and congestion. I went to the doctor this time and he said I had bronchitis. I'd never had that before and I was wondering how I had gotten so sick! He gave me new prescriptions for the cramping and diarrhea medication as well as antibiotics and cough syrup for the bronchitis. I told him about what happened the previous month and that I had wanted to go the hospital from the pain and nonstop vomiting. He just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I had a stomach flu/virus. Funny thing was that no one at work or at my house had any stomach bugs. I was wondering why I was the only one sick when usually those things spread through family members and co-workers. So, I took a few days off from work to rest.
I wanted to change whatever I was doing to cause these episodes. I was still under tremendous stress at work and at home. I had to make some changes. I made some decisions that were very hard and not everyone agreed with or understood why I did what I did. Sometimes God requires us to make tough decisions, we have to rely on His guidance and wisdom and not on our own. I put in my notice at work, my last day would be June 5th, which was the end of the school year. My husband and I decided that it would be best if I stayed at home. I tried to eat healthier, like I had back in 2007 but the added fiber only made things worse. Everything seemed to upset my stomach and sure enough, in April, I had another episode. I woke up in the middle of the night vomiting, cramping, and having diarrhea. I took my new medicine as soon as the vomiting stopped and the episode didn't last as long. I thought, maybe if I start exercising again I'll feel better. I'd been wanting to start running, so I bought a pair of running sneakers and my friend Christine and I jogged together a couple of times.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to exercise for long because I found out I was pregnant and I was experiencing a miscarriage. What normally should have taken 6 weeks ended up being a 13 week ordeal. I ended up in emergency surgery for a suspected ectopic pregnanacy. I ended up missing more work and I returned 1 week before graduation. 2009 was turning out to be the worst year ever! I was an emotional wreck and I had to say goodbye to my students and co-workers at the end of graduation night. My strength came from God, I had nothing left by this point. The day after graduation was an immense relief! Even though I had my 4 kids home with me, it was still better than being at work and I was able to de-stress over the next 2 months.
I had a trip scheduled at the end of July for my birthday. I was going to NJ to see my two best friends for a four day weekend with no children! I managed to keep from getting sick in June and July, which was great! I got on the plane and flew to Philly. My best friend, Heidi, picked me up from Philadelphia International Airport but my joy in being in Philly was short-lived. Before we got to the Walt Whitman Bridge, I had found out that my grandmother died in the night. I named my daughter Eva after her. Katherleen Eva Rowswell was 96 when she died. My mom and I cried on the phone, she had just gotten back from visiting Grandma, in England and now she had to go back for the funeral. Since I was in NJ, I ate everything that I couldn't get in Florida, all the things that reminded me of happier times. I am an emotional eater and I love to eat bad food. I ate cheesesteaks, Wawa hoagies, panzarottis, and pizza. It all tasted so good. Little did I know that this would be the last time I would enjoy these foods. After the four days were over, I flew back home. Sure enough, by the end of the week I was sick. This time was different. It was bad. The stomach cramps, the vomiting, the diarrhea, were 10x worse than before. All I could do was lay face-down on the bathroom floor. It was 3am, everyone was asleep and I wanted to go to the emergency room. I couldn't move. I couldn't call out to my husband. I couldn't reach my medication, which was downstairs in the kitchen. So I just laid there. I forced myself up to vomit or sit on the toilet and then laid right back down. I was sweating and I felt like I was burning up. I think the pain lasted for 3 hours, time was a blur but I remember that pain like it happened last night. I knew that this was not normal, it was not IBS, this was something like I had never experienced before and I never wanted to experience it ever again. When I was finally able to get up off of the floor, I crawled into bed. It was around 6am.
I called my doctor as soon as his office opened that morning and I went in to see him. He told me that it was a stomach virus. Again, no one in the house was sick. He assured me that I would feel better in 3 days. I asked him to refer me to a GI specialist. I called the GI specialist and could only get an appointment 6 weeks away. When I finally went to go see her, I was still sick! I had lost 10 pounds, my stomach was still a mess. I was hardly able to eat and I was having abdominal pain. I don't know of any stomach virus that lasts indefinitely. She agreed that it was not a virus and immediately scheduled me for blood work and a ct scan. I was relieved that she believed me when I said something was wrong. I had the ct scan a few days later and I had the blood work done,too. When I went back to see her for the results, she told me that I did not have any inflammation of the bowels which ruled out several diseases. The blood work however showed that I could have Celiac Disease.
I have to end right here for today. Reliving all of that has tired me out! I need a break and hopefully I'll be able to continue in a few days. I've learned that through our trials and tribulations we become stronger. God has been by my side through the worst and He is the only reason why I made it through to the other side to be able to share my story with you.
"The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies." Psalm 18:2-3