I have always had a nervous stomach. At least that’s what everyone called the constant vomiting and diarrhea I suffered from when I was growing up. My brother nicknamed me “Vomit Lips”. Any stress at all would cause me to lose my appetite or get violently ill when I ate.
I quickly developed a tough exterior after being called skinny everyday. I got used to being told I needed to eat a cheeseburger on a constant basis. I was told if I turned sideways and stuck out my tongue, I would look just like a zipper. I learned the rules for picking on people’s weight only applied to the fluffy not the underweight. One of a million of nonsensical rules formulated by God knows who.
I frequented several doctors throughout my adolescence and at one point got force fed Jell-O because my best friend told the principal of my middle school that I was anorexic. I was actually confused at the time if I was anorexic or not. I wanted to eat, but I just could not get past the nausea. It made me literally sick.
I was twenty two years old when I experienced, what I termed, an episode, but it didn’t go away within a few hours like it normally did. I was on my hands and knees in pain because I couldn’t stand up straight, I was alone, and I had a small child to take care of. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and go to the emergency room.
Upon arriving at the hospital, they took my weight,which was 87 pounds, and all the other entry vitals. They did some blood work, determined that my inflammation rate was very high and that I needed to get a colonoscopy and an endoscopy immediately. Which, I might add, is not the most pleasant experience in the world, but extremely necessary and something I continue to get done every five years. I do remember pleading with them, jokingly, to do my throat first.
The surgeon and doctor determined that I had Crohn’s disease in my large intestine during these procedures and removed several polyps and had them sent off for a biopsy. I ended up being in the hospital for ten days. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I wasn’t weird or attention seeking. I was actually sick, but with something that could be treated and managed.
I spent the next couple of months trying out new medications and responding the best to the steroids which made me feel horrible in a thousand different other ways. As I got older, I realized I could control it with diet and probably could help control it with my stress level but that wasn’t going to happen with four kids. So I just focused on the diet.
I kept a notebook of what I ate and how it made me feel. I quickly learned all fried foods made me feel the worst with dairy foods coming in a close second. I would not recommend living in the south with that kind of diet. There are a lot of really informative books out there on gut health and eating an anti-inflammatory diet. For me, it has been all about trial and error, but I never stop trying to learn. My triggers seem to change and grow as I age.
Overall, I have learned to manage my health and I look and feel healthy more often than not. Since my diagnosis, my sister has been diagnosed with Diverticulitis, my mother has also been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and my brother has gotten Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’m not a doctor, but there seems to be a genetic link here.