When I was in college, I had EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA. When you're a freshman with explosive diarrhea living in a coed dorm,
1) You think explosive diarrhea is totally not abnormal and don't go to the doctor;
2) You instantaneously train yourself to hold in explosive diarrhea until
3) The floor is entirely quiet because, you convince yourself, everyone is at class or having quiet but distracting sex;
4) You go to the bathroom and explode diarrhea out of your body;
5) And after some time, you learn how to explode diarrhea out of your body without making a sound.
I was pooping out water. I don't know why I didn't go to the doctor.
Over time, I figured out my diarrhea triggers: soft drinks, coffee, fried foods, fatty foods, beer, chocolate, candy, Wheat Thins. I could eat a single Tootsie Roll and have to run to the bathroom. I avoided those foods, and my bowel issues got better. At some point I figured out I had irritable bowel syndrome.
By the time I was in my mid-twenties, my IBS had become mostly constipation. I ate high-fiber cereal, and it only backed me up. When my vulvodynia started in late 2006, my cousin Kim had already gone gluten-free as she and her son have celiac disease (here is her blog). So about 7 months into vulvodynia, I stopped eating gluten.
It helped. I started pooping better and my headaches went away. I had been napping most days for hours, and that stopped too. And my vulvodynia improved a smidge, probably because there was much less going on in my abdomen in general.
Today I saw Dr. Abdelmalak again. I went in with no news to report. For like two seconds after my last right-side genitofemoral block, my pain got better. But it expanded again, and I decided I needed to hammer home with Dr. Abdelmalak my observation that food is a major contributor to my pain.
I thought Dr. Abdelmalak would suggest another nerve block or another attempt at cryoablating the nerve. But instead, after some discussion and an examination of my abdomen (pressing it all over) and finding that my genitofemoral trigger points are not so bad right now, he decided to focus on IBS.
It was kind of strange. We talked a lot about pressure to the lower abdomen -- how if I cough, sneeze, laugh, when my bladder fills, when I move, when my cat steps on my belly, how with any added pressure my pain gets much worse (when I am having a bout of laughter, I find myself contorting to relieve the normal downward punch of the laugh. It's kind of awful, but laughter is so wonderful). And from that conversation and a quick question about "alternating diarrhea and constipation" -- "Yes, I have IBS" -- he decided to put me on Bentyl, a med that treats IBS. (As a side note, to add TMI to TMI, I can feel gas moving across my lower abdomen, centered over my pelvis, because it presses down and shoots my pain up. Previous doctors have told me that my bowels don't go that low and that the constant pain I had in my lower left side while still eating gluten was my period, not my bowels. Ha! Screw you! I know what my period feels like, dingbats! I wish I could write condescending letters but I don't even remember the doctors' names.)
As in college, treating my IBS outside of avoiding food triggers has never occurred to me. I knew about Bentyl, but I was always like, "That's for them." I don't know who them is if it's not me. Maybe my explosive diarrhea never seemed to be a serious problem -- after all, it wasn't dysentery. And maybe not pooping for a week (or two when on Effexor) seemed more a medical marvel than something to address.
Edit: I remembered where I remembered Bentyl from. I was actually prescribed it years ago by a gastroenterologist. I wrote about it on here on a post with a nasty title. It was at the outset of my Summer of Despair, after which I gave up on seeing doctors for a while. I don't think I took any of it. I think I was too deep into the mental state with which I chose the title of that post.
I'm to take Bentyl up to 4 times a day (every 6 hours), and Dr. A says it'll take a few weeks to start working. Alongside Bentyl, he prescribed something I've always thought I should have -- a muscle relaxer. OMG! I'll only be able to take it at night, but I'm interested to see if it has any effect on my pain.
And then I walked away with my paperwork. I've heard a few elderly people say, "Don't get old." I always think, well, I'm already in pain all the time. I get that more things happen in a person's later years, but I feel stuffed up on medication as it is.
And I have a hilarious list of issues, some of which seem redundant, some of which I thought I didn't have (manic-depressive NEC; I thought my doc and I decided it's not accurate for me, and I had to google NEC, and it seems like it's the same as NOS, not otherwise specified, but I have no idea why there's a different term and why it's "manic-depressive" and not "bipolar disorder," and my anxiety should be "MFing anxiety," not "anxiety state NOS"; listen up, I'll tell you how to specify it: it's a MFer) -- and some of which aren't listed (cluster headaches, arthritis of the hip, even IBS).
These lists made me laugh. If I live out my natural lifespan, it'll be hilarious to see how long these get. I think my grandpa was on 7,000 meds when he died and probably had 40,000 items on his "Problem List." He died the day before his 92nd birthday. Life accumulates.