Growing up, I was sensitive to many foods. At times, I was so sensitive to foods that I nearly stopped eating. My grandmother suspected that I should be diagnosed as anorexic and had no issues about confronting me with her suspicions every time she saw me. Looking back, I was underweight and I was restricting foods but not for the desire to be thin. I wanted to feel well and the only time in my life I feel well is when I do not ingest foods.
August of 2008 brought a stomach pain that dropped me to my knees while walking. I had never experienced anything like it. When I was pregnant with my son, I didn’t even know I was in labor because my pain tolerance is ridiculous. I was within an hour of delivery when I finally decided it was time and it was too late for pain medication. I wanted to wait and see what happened and if I would feel better but my husband disagreed. I was rushed to the local ER where I was told to “stop being dramatic” by an ER nurse. She was angry with me for vomiting the fluid given so an image of my stomach could be taken. I was sent home with antibiotics and so ashamed for being “dramatic” that I refused to go to a follow up appointment.
Living for years without proper nutrition made me weak and tired. I was growing something inside my body that was not a baby. I had a lump on my right side that I had jokingly started calling, “Angry Bob”. My primary care physician was unable to see or feel it. Again, I thought I was just being dramatic so I stopped trying to get my doctor to acknowledge it. Honestly, I stopped going to the doctor because nobody believed me. I felt foolish. I eventually became so tired that I decided to eat anything I craved because my body needed it. Eating loads of food should have caused me to be overweight but it did not. I managed to maintain a healthy weight so I assumed this is what I needed. I thought I had thinking errors that caused me to believe I was not feeling well. Maybe eating food caused discomfort and it is just part of life. I continued to eat.
September 2014 challenged my thoughts on this when I had to leave work early due to a reaction to my lunch. I thought I was dying and I felt panic rushing through my entire body. I was cold and wet. Sweat was dripping from my body and the pain! I couldn’t even tell where it was coming from. My back? Stomach? It didn’t matter. Sitting in my driveway after a terrifying drive home I accepted the fact that I was going to die within feet of my home. Fortunately, my daughter saw my car on the security camera and came outside to see what was going on. She called 911 and I was on my way to the hospital. Upon arrival, it was determined I had gallbladder issues and my gallbladder would be removed immediately. I do not remember much until the next morning. My husband had taken off work to drive me to a city with a larger hospital because something had gone wrong. I hurt everywhere. I didn’t understand what they were going to do at this hospital as I had already had surgery and had been released. If something was wrong they would have kept me, right? Right?!
I had another procedure that had four letters. It was miserable and I ended up going full rage on the operating staff after having a leak in my IV and blood spilling out onto the sheets and my legs. Again, I do not remember much but I remember going home and crying. I cried for two days. My employer wanted to know when I was coming back because having a gallbladder removed was a simple procedure. After nearly 10 weeks, my doctor allowed me to return to work.
I began to eat more than my clear liquid diet and the pains returned. I was beginning to put on weight and was not eating enough to support the weight gain. I had gone from 135 lbs to 160 lbs and had no idea how. Somehow I was maintaining this new weight. It was as much as I’d ever weighed. I weighed less with each of my pregnancies. I felt bad. I finally saw a doctor and was told my thyroid was fine. The feeling that I was being overly dramatic was creeping in again.
January 2016 was another game changer. I was diagnosed! After three days of vomiting, I told my husband that I thought if it continued I would die. He is a very caring person but over the span of our marriage has become accustomed to my stomach issues. I eat, I vomit. He was no longer alarmed when I would vomit for days or he would find me sleeping on the bathroom floor. It had become our normal. On January 13th though, I woke him up. I could barely see and I was vomiting every 12-15 minutes. I couldn’t keep my balance and my heart was pounding so fast! I had to take a trash can on the way to ER. I was unable to complete registration because I was vomiting so violently. A tube was inserted through my nose and my stomach was emptied for two days. Upon removal of the tube, violent vomiting pursued. I had an intestinal blockage and required exploratory surgery.
That exploratory surgery resulted in 4-5 feet of intestines being removed, along with Angry Bob. He was quite a mass at that point and my surgeon was preparing me for the worst. My first day of bland food cause more vomiting. I spent an additional 14 days in the hospital because my care providers could not determine why I was rejecting food.
Thankfully, Angry Bob was not cancer. The lab confirmed that I had Crohn’s Disease though. I was happy that I was not just being dramatic. There WAS something wrong with me! I had no idea what was going to come next. I now wish I had just been being dramatic and Crohn’s was not even a thing.