The other day I was seeing one of my doctors, one of my many, MANY, doctors who has patiently helped me get my life back on track. I’m talking doctors that specialize in mind, body, and all the shit in between. Two years ago I was diagnosed (ish) with my stomach disorder. Some of my other health issues were documented by doctors much earlier, but the stomach issues have kinda been the biggest, in my face health issue that have literally stopped my life and forced me to rethink so many things.
PTSD, yeah, got it, whatever. I’ve shoved a lot of those symptoms under the rug…and probably as a result of that, those symptoms definitely contributed to how bad my GI symptoms are.
Carpal Tunnel, again, super fun…annoying as hell, but what can you do? Cut off my hands? Tell me to stop writing? Nah, I just wear my wrist braces more consistently.
Anxiety? Had it for the better part of my lift, but again, like PTSD (they’re kinda like sister conditions), not much I can do about it. I’ve really tried to be better about dealing with this, but I’ve yet to find a meditation, workout, or other treatment that doesn’t mess with my GI issues and/or my attention span of a goldfish.
SO. A TWO YEAR RECAP (since I actually acknowledged it wasn’t normal to be throwing up every single meal and/or shitting my brains out (or not going to bathroom at all for days on end). Super cute, right? I’ve literally got some of the grossest symptoms of all, and whomever you are, you’ve committed to reading all about them! Well, not really…let’s just say I’ve gone through more Immodium and acid related medication than most people do in a lifetime…like, they’re on subscription orders on my Amazon.
|Apollo & I (service dog numero dos…
but actually uno because Dakota passed
before we started training)
Two years ago I was just starting my second semester of law school. I was stressed to the max about my classes. It’s no joke when they say the first year of law school is the worst, because for me, it really was. In addition to classes being overwhelming, my boyfriend had just transferred from community college to a four year college, so I tried to be the super helpful girlfriend that was always available to help him make the adjustment, to the detriment of my studies.
In addition to this, while my living situation was ideal-like literally across the street from school in this super nice complex-my neighbors were beyond shitty. Doors were slammed almost on a regular schedule, to the point that several nights frames fell off my walls because my neighbors were getting into it (yet again). I’d complain about the noise to the complex, to the point I was ready to file a police report, but to do so they’d have to be caught “in the act,” and by the time I’d tried to sit it out for an hour or two (at 3 or 4 am), they’d quiet down and not much could be done.
Couple that with crazy parking (aka people parking in disabled spots without placards…like, ever), a washer and dryer left in a handicap for almost a year…and a bunch of other unnecessary shit, I felt like my head was going to explode.
To make matters worse, I adopted a dog whom I believed I was going to train to be a service dog…only to find out months later that she had a degenerative hip problem and that we’d have to put her down. And last, but certainly not least, I had to cope with a diagnosis of “stomach disorder” that didn’t tell me much other than I can’t digest most foods, my organs don’t work quite right, and I’ll probably always have to worry about some kind of symptoms that flare with stress.
|taken after my first colonoscopy…
because fasting for a procedure obviously
requires a reward with a blt pizza
Needless to say this cocktail of life events sent me for a tizzy. I couldn’t focus because I was always sick. I was always depressed because I couldn’t workout because I was too tired (because I never kept any food in my body). It was a vicious cycle I felt like I couldn’t win and by the time finals rolled that spring, my body was unable to really go through hours and hours of exams without any kind of nourishment. My brain was falling apart because I was constantly in a state of hunger/hanger/frustration. Basically I was a hot mess and it took me physically being unable to go to classes that fall (in a feeble attempt to start my second year of law school), that I finally acknowledged I needed help and couldn’t seek that help while juggling law school.
OH, almost forgot to mention…because I’m a glutton for punishment, I had also started a master’s program (the negotiation one) via distance learning. To me, it was my attempt at diversifying my course load to distract from the stresses of law school. To my mind and my body, it was one more thing that I had to juggle-dog, law classes, master’s classes, boyfriend, family, crazy housing…the list went on and on. OH, and symptoms, every fucking day.
I think I have minor amnesia when it comes to how bad the symptoms were-I was throwing up (not provoked, like literally a burp but with food, seven to ten times a day until my eyes watered and I choked up blood). The diarrhea was also super bad, to the point that Immodium was a joke and sometimes I’d laugh about how I should just study in the bathroom because I was running there all the time.
There really isn’t an explanation for my symptoms other than stress and some internal organ issues that can’t be accurately measured without an autopsy (sorry, can’t do that at the moment). It took getting so sick for me to realize I had to slow down, so I did, at least a little. I took what would’ve been my second year in law school “off” and solely focused on my Master’s degree. This freed up my time SIGNIFICANTLY, so I was able to do the three to five specialist appointments I needed to monitor my symptoms. I drove hundreds of miles for a “smart pill” test, where a doctor measured how long food took to process in each of my organs. Long story short, it took too long or not enough time, hence the severe symptoms. I had several colonoscopies and endoscopies…tests most people don’t have until they’re 50+. I lost a ton of weight…and I also gained a bunch of weight because of all the different medications I had to try. Some helped a little, some did nothing at all, and one made me crazy as hell.
|Dakota & I (service dog numero uno)|
Now I’m on a more balanced cocktail of drugs that keeps the acid down and my stomach more “normal.” I’m not 100% recovered by any means…but I’ve been able to restart law school and now I’m just shy of a year out from graduation. In my time off I also picked another Master’s, this one in business, and so far, I’ve been able to juggle those classes with my law school ones. For my first semester back to law school though, I just did law school. I didn’t want to over do…but you know, still stay true to my over-committed self.
So it’s been two years and it’s like night and day how much has changed. I now have that service dog I had always wanted, and he’s literally like a dream come true. He won’t leave my side and always checks in on me when I’m getting sick (he knows how to open bathroom doors). I’m more vocal about asking for help (most of the time), and I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m in too deep and just need to take a break for a minute. As someone who’s super motivated to get shit done, it’s really, like REALLY frustrating to deal with symptoms that can’t be rushed.
Two years later and from all of this, I think I’ve really learned to listen to my body and really make “being happy” a priority in my life.
On that note, as ironic as it sounds, symptoms are calling!