I usually try to focus on the positive aspects (I hear you snorting already) of having digestive conditions. Sometimes, though, you just get touched that someone else knows exactly what crap you are dealing with everyday. This comic is PERFECT. CB always comments — though he generally forgets by morning — that, as soon as I get comfortable in bed, I’m up and down to the bathroom. It’s as though my body thinks it has free reign once gravity isn’t such an issue anymore.
The biggest “positive” I always keep in mind is that I’m far more in tune with my body than I ever have been. This is coming from the girl who would always go to the doctor with “I think I have X.” “No, no,” says Doctor, “I’m sure it’s not.” And, lo and behold, it was always X! Once my IBS started up in earnest, I never really knew what my body was trying to tell me.
I remember last year, a week after all my tests had been done, after all the scopes had been up or down their respective routes, phoning my doctor to ask how long I needed to take the prescribed medicine. The answer wasn’t sugar-coated: “The rest of your life.”
The pills in question turned me into a zombie. I was prescribed 8 of them a day — 2 when I woke, 2 at lunch, 2 at dinner, and 2 at bed time. I don’t think anyone quite believed me when I said I didn’t have the energy to get up to get myself a glass of water. All I could do was lie there. It hurt to be hungry, but it hurt to eat. My mother actually, unfortunately, experienced what I meant when she was prescribed the same pills. She was told to have 3 a day — not 8, like me — and, after the first dose, she felt like she was moving in slow motion and didn’t even have the energy to finish her dinner. She couldn’t follow a conversation. (If you’re wondering, yes, I did get the gift of gab from her, so it was a particularly difficult time!) She told her doctor that she would only take them on very bad days.
I finally went to my GP and explained that I could not live like a zombie anymore. We tried another tablet. I didn’t feel like a zombie, but I didn’t feel any relief, either. Another, some relief. It got rid of the more dull achy pains, but I still had the stabby ones that have dropped me to the floor at times. Finally, they decided to pair it with an anti-anxiety pill. Sweet relief! It got rid of most of the pain!
There was a trade-off, though. Every day, regardless of how I was feeling, my stomach was swollen. I was used to swelling off and on, but this was constant. I was worn out. I also began to realise that I didn’t know what my body was telling me anymore. I’m sore, but why? Was it food? Was it exercise? Was I simply overly tired? Was it — gasp! — just that time of that day, and it was just going to happen?
I made one of Sydney’s Patented Executive Life Decisions and weaned myself off all of my pills. Are they helpful? Sure, but they don’t actually make me any better. In the long run, they weren’t doing anything. They were making me temporarily more comfortable but also more complacent. I can tolerate pain. I can recognise it, acknowledge it, and file it away. It can frustrate me, but it rarely stops me.
I’ve been doing remarkably well. Do I have pains? Yep, but I think about them less because they are not a worry; they are what they are. Do I still swell? Yep, I am still six months fake-pregnant on some days. Do I have more energy? On most days, I think I do. I still get worn down, perhaps a bit easier at times, but I feel like my body is saying You can do it rather than You know, you probably shouldn’t. And, that’s the other thing: I can hear what my body is saying. You could do without eating that food again. You overdid it on the lifting boxes. What makes you think you can pull more than your own weight? And, perhaps the most important thing it tells me. Calm down; you need a rest, but you’ll be stronger tomorrow.
I am listening again.