My Gut Says There is Something Wrong

I have off and on gastric issues, mostly nausea and seemingly random abdominal discomfort. I will walk through my symptoms, what I tried, and what finally worked. 80% of this was done without help from a physician because I found my PCPs to be useless and completely unhelpful about my gastric issues.

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

I started having constant nausea over 4 years ago. No matter what I did, ate, or didn’t eat, had any effect. I went to my then doctor, and he tossed anxiety meds at me and dismissed me. They helped but didn’t fix the overall issue, or my concern that it might be something more. I went back, exclaimed my concerns, so he then sent me for an Upper Endoscopy, medically known as Esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Let me tell you, that was something. In the short version, it cost me $3,000 after insurance and left me with no answers.

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If you’ve never had an Endoscopy before, it’s something else. It’s an outpatient procedure, and I was in and out within a few hours. I couldn’t eat or drink anything for over 12 hours before the procedure. They tried to connect me to an IV, but my veins have always been uncooperative, so I had a lovely little bruise as a souvenir. I had to change into a gown, had the hospital bed, the whole nine yards. My significant other was able to stay with me until I was brought into the procedure room. The procedure room was scary, dark, and my anxiety was rocketing.

I look at the clock, it was 2 pm. They asked me to verify my information and put something in my mouth to keep it open during the procedure. They had me roll over onto my side and numbed my throat. The anesthesiologist asked me to count down from 100. I got to 99 and that’s all I remember. Next thing I know I wake up and ask them if that was it because it was quick. They chuckled and I looked at the clock, it was 2:20. The doctor told my woozy self that they didn’t see any cause of nausea but they took a biopsy to check for celiac disease.

Thankfully, my significant other kept his promise of not recording me on anesthesia, and I can’t recall what I said but I know he found it amusing. My throat was sore for about 3 days after that, and I was tired but couldn’t sleep. Otherwise, there was no pain or problems for me. The only pain was paying off the test for 2 years after the fact.

Once I got my stress under control and increased my anxiety med, my nausea eventually subsided. Until what seemed like overnight, things got worse. Anytime I ate nearly anything I had to lay down for hours due to the discomfort. To this day I still don’t quite know how to explain it. It felt like gas and pressure, but it wasn’t. The best way I can describe the feeling is it felt like I ate a whole pan of bad, greasy, rock-like meatloaf and my gastrointestinal tract just could not digest it. It felt stuck, and like a lump.

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To figure out what triggered it, I changed my diet and tracked all of my food for at least a month. I ate nothing but chicken, white rice, and veggies. I removed all sugar, alcohol, fats, dairy, everything that could be a trigger. I slowly introduced the foods that would be the most likely culprits, starting with dairy. After having some cheese and the symptoms came back, I came to terms with the fact that I may suddenly be lactose intolerant which this occurring later in life is not unheard of. I fought against it since I adore cheese.

A friend gave me some pills that worked for a while, a dairy digestive pill. I took two before every meal and was able to eat a bucket of cheese without issues. I was thrilled! I got my life back! Until… it all got worse. After a while, it wasn’t just cheese that set off my stomach. I would eggs, peanut butter, anything and everything set off my stomach. Even chicken set me off. For the longest time, I avoided eating because everything set me off. Even plain chicken and white rice. I was so frustrated and done. All of the research I did, I could not find an answer for my stomach reacting to EVERYTHING.

Until one day, when I sat down with my food journal and determined to figure it out. After spending hours searching, I stumbled across one article which leads me to another and another, and then to a possible answer. What I realized, was everything that set off my stomach, was related to proteins and fat. Anything that had any remote amount of fat or certain proteins (like steak, chicken, beans, etc) would set my gastro track off with the abdominal discomfort. The article below is what lead me to this and explained everything.
https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/improve-protein-digestibility-10068.html

Paraphrasing the article, my body wasn’t generating the correct digestive enzymes to break down fat and proteins so I needed a bit of help. After going through this article, I ordered some pills off of Amazon. I was hesitant because I didn’t want to fall into the “diet pill” trap. I was worried about ordering somewhat expensive pills only for them to not work. However, I was desperate enough and took the risk. I ordered: Digestive Enzymes Ultra – Comprehensive Blend of Digestive Enzymes. Per the article, I ordered this one because it included more digestive enzymes than a standard probiotic.

The first thing I did to test these meds is to eat a pizza. I didn’t end up curled up on the couch for hours, and I had no discomfort! It took my significant other to ask if the medication worked before I realized that it had. I took the meds with every meal for nearly a month. I was able to eat everything again from cheese, to steak, to peanut butter. I haven’t had a bowl of cereal in 5 years, but now I can! It has even got to a point where I don’t need the pills anymore. To emphasize how much better I’m doing, tonight for dinner I had buffalo wings with ranch. Years ago that would’ve been unthinkable unless I wanted to spend the evening in pain.

I thought that the lack of protein would’ve to lead me down the path of figuring out my extreme fatigue that maybe it could be a diet-related connection. It doesn’t fit through because even when I was taking the digestive pills, my energy should’ve increased when instead it stayed consistent. So, I continue my search for my fatigue diagnoses, but at least I can eat ice cream again.

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Published by Anna Smith

Anna Smith is not my real name, and I am hoping to provide some sources, information, and explanations to others that I struggle to find and understand.

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