It’s been so fun to write these stories and I hope you’re enjoying tracking along with me so far! Here’s part three. P.S. these photos aren’t super relevant, because they aren’t of me at doctor’s offices. They’re just here for fun and to show what I was looking like through the years.
When it came to finding the right doctors, we didn’t get off to a great start, but we were always advancing. We started with a doctor at Medical City in Dallas. His plan of attack to solve the problem was to eliminate my all-time favorite food in the whole wide planet – cheese and all dairy products. After that drastic dietary change yielded no improvement in my belly issues, he decided we needed to do an endoscopy to see if there was a physical problem brewing.
An endoscopy is where they put the patient to sleep and put a little tiny camera down their throat to look around to see what’s going on. They can take a look at the esophagus, stomach and maybe even a tiny bit into the small intestine – but not very far because that organ is just way too windy and long to get in very far.
When they do an endoscopy, they ask that you not eat after a certain hour the night before your procedure. If I remember correctly, they told me not to eat anything past ten o’clock the night before. We had spaghetti for dinner the night leading up to my endoscopy around six or seven o’clock, you know, normal dinner hours and that was it for the night.
The morning of my procedure, I also had nothing to eat. But I’ll be darned if the doctor who was performing the procedure didn’t go out into the waiting room (while I was still under, mind you) and ask my parents why they had let me eat that morning. My parents replied something along the lines of, ‘Sir, she hasn’t eaten anything since her spaghetti dinner last evening around six or seven o’clock.’ This left the doctor very puzzled because he could still see actual spaghetti in my belly that morning.
This right here ladies and gentlemen, SHOULD have been the ‘DING! DING! DING! We have a winner!’ moment we had been looking for. Someone who ate something fourteen hours ago should absolutely not still have food in their stomach – identifiable food at that! But alas, this is not where this story ends. Honestly, I don’t think anyone really thought a whole lot about this but this is when someone should have said something about Gastroparesis, which is a condition affecting the muscles and nerves of the stomach leaving it paralyzed.
Instead, this doctor prescribed what is called a ‘Prev-Pack,’ which consisted of two antibiotics, Amoxicillin and Biaxin, and Prevacid, a drug that keeps your stomach from producing a lot of stomach acid. This round of medications is traditionally used to help with what is called ‘h. pylori’ and even though that wasn’t showing up in tests, he prescribed it to see if it helped anything.
Good news is, it did! But not for very long though, so don’t get too excited. According to my father’s memory, most of my vomiting subsided for about 6 months. I continued on the Prevacid after the ‘Prev-Pack’ round was finished.
Entering into the fourth grade, I seemed to be doing pretty well! I was still taking the Prevacid, and folks seemed to think that was my cure-all. (Side note* I kind of think it was a hot drug at the time to be completely honest. I’m pretty sure the entire country might have been on Prevacid at this time. Like, it was always the drug name on the pens at the doctors’ offices and counters at pharmacies). The bloating and gas was still around, and there was still some vomiting, but it was limited and in short spurts.
Anyhow, I didn’t miss a single day of school the first semester of my fourth grade year! I know this doesn’t seem like a huge deal to a normal kid, but wow, I think this is the only time in my life that ever happened for me past the age of like, seven.
Then Christmas break happened, and after that, things seemed to go downhill. This is the time that my dad recorded when all of my problems seemed to increase dramatically. The first week of the second semester of fourth grade, I missed the entire week of school. So much for that perfect attendance award, huh?
Around April of that year, my parents decided to take me to a new GI doctor. He was a pediatric doctor, meaning he only saw children. The months leading up to this appointment were full of days with a big bloated, painful belly and a lot of vomiting – generally, days of feeling very crappy. Most days, I would try to feel better before ten o’clock in the morning so I could make it to school without being counted absent. Or I would just try as hard as I could to make it to ten so that my dad could come and pick me up shortly after.
My new doctor requested I have a barium swallow test. Oh goodness gracious! This is one of the worst tests I’ve ever endured. You are asked to drink a ‘milkshake’ but it’s a total joke, because it tastes zero percent like a milkshake. It is barium – like the ‘Ba’ on the periodic table. Yes, that barium and it is gross – a lot like most things that are on the periodic table probably are. I remember the gal who was in the room with me had Kool Aid to try to make it taste a little better. God bless her. I am so glad there are kind people in the world. Anyway, you drink this HUGE portion of barium and they take x-ray’s to watch it as it moves through your stomach, small intestine and into your large bowel. It took 6 full hours for the barium to make its way through my stomach and into the entrance of my large intestine.
While this is extremely slow, I would bet you a million dollars, it would take a heck of a lot longer for my guts to get that barium milkshake to that point today. The good news is we will never test what another barium milkshake does in my guts because it actually turns to nearly concrete if it doesn’t make its way out of your guts quick enough and can cause actual disasters. So there is that. Every single time a doctor offers me any type of drink, I double check to make sure it isn’t barium first (I realize this might sound weird, but when you have gastrointestinal issues, the main mode of seeing what is happening inside usually requires some sort of beverage to make a contrast in the images they take. I’m not talking about doctors frequently asking me if I’d like a Sprite or anything. I wish!)
Next up is my first ER visit! Woohoo! So stay tuned for that fun stuff!