I’ve been off the radar for a while now. Mainly because I’ve been sick and tired of being sick and tired.
It all started on the weekend of the 25th of June. It was a shit weekend. As in a storm caused a 24 hour black-out, a branch broke one of my front windows and a stray dog to wander into my yard. The stray dog freaked out my two dogs, and in the morning he attacked my puppy and bit Mac’s face. With the power out, I had to use my car to charge my phone, and I was hungry because there were minimal ways to prepare food worth eating. Yeah, it was a shit weekend. Not the end of the world, but the shit kept hitting the fan.
As soon as one thing was fixed, another thing broke apart. Once the power came back on, I went into town, grabbed some supplies for an indulgent dinner and looked forward to a good night’s sleep. Which I got for about an hour. Then came the worst. I was sick. I will spare you details, but as you can imagine it wasn’t fun and it capped off one of the worst weekends I have had. Did I mention that I was by myself? Yeah, My husband was having a working holiday in Sydney, So I was the one calling the insurance at 9 pm about the broken window. I was the one dealing with the glass truck bogged on the lawn at midnight. I was the one who called the owner of the stray dog. I was the one who drove my dog to the vet with a bleeding face, and waited in the vet surgery (Side note, Murwillumbah Vet Clinic are great.When they heard that the injury was from a stray dog, and realised they had made me wait for 30 min with a cranky bleeding puppy, they waived any fees. Also, their level of care is amazing). I was the one restocking the fridge since the black-out ruined most of the food. To say it was stressful is an understatement, but I thought it would all be over eventually.
And it was for a few days. I felt better, but at night time, I was feeling really gross. Like I could puke at any minute, subsequently, I spent an hour or two in the bathroom most night, feeling sorry for myself, but not puking. I put it down to a bad diet and stress, and made a note to bring it up with my doctor at our next appointment (I had an appointment about contraception, which I spent talking to the doc about the ins and outs of my ins and outs). For my 31st birthday on the 30th, I had two drinks, and couldn’t stomach dinner or breakfast the following morning. By the time I got to my doctor, I was hardly consuming anything other than rice crackers, apples and ginger cordial. I had many more hours in the bathroom still feeling like I was going to puke but not actually puking.
She put it down to a bug, and sent me out for blood tests, gave me a list of foods to avoid, and told me it should settle down. Then the results came in, and I was now unable to eat apples and rice crackers. I didn’t have a bug, I didn’t have any of the other things she tested for, and by now I was plain sick. I saw two other doctors in one week, because I was so sick, I needed a medical certificate for missing uni, and I had’t eaten in days. One of the docs gave me some ant-nausea meds which didn’t work and said I was stressed. The other one ordered a second round of tests and an ultrasound. Now, I don’t know what your experience is with the Australian healthcare system, and really, I can’t complain, because it’s not America, but golly I was tired to tests, and the unknown. And to make matters worse, getting appointments for these tests just confound the matter further.
So, after about two weeks of feeling like puking (No I wasn’t pregnant. I both peed on a stick at home, and in a cup for the doc) but not actually puking, and not eating I was understandably behind with uni. Yeah, that’s a losing battle now, but I’m at peace with the concept that I am now well and truly behind my schedule, but I guess shit happens. Also, I still had no actual results. Stress was one suggestion, gallbladder another, but no real idea. A week later, I found out I had a sludgy gallbladder, but it shouldn’t be making me this sick. I tried eating beetroot with lemon and flaxseed oil under the advice of my doctor. Some days I managed to eat a golf ball sized amount. Others, I was still feeling revolting, and struggling to drink enough water. Somewhere along the line, I was prescribed stronger ant-nausea meds. They still didn’t help completely, but they were the type given to chemo patients, so I knew they were hard core.
The beetroot wasn’t cutting it, and neither were the ant-nausea meds. I spent numerous nights sleeping on the couch, because I didn’t know if I would puke. One night, after I ate a piece of bread with avo at 3 pm, I spent the next 12 hours feeling it at the back of my throat. I was hopelessly behind with uni, and when I had a moment in the doctor’s office where I scared her because I looked like I was going to puke in her office, she told me in no uncertain terms, that I had to get the gastroscopy which was suggested previously. I was doing my best to avoid it, as it was $450, the thought of medical procedures make me anxious, and I was having a good day here and there. Some days, I managed to eat my beetroot with avocado on rice crackers.
I had the gastroscopy. and I lived to tell the tale. I was so fucking anxious going in, I nearly had a teary in the carpark. When I was told my husband couldn’t wait with me, I did cry a little. The only thing that kept me from falling apart was breathing and reading. Once I was in the operating theatre, I was so scared, I could hardly answer the Doctor’s questions, but then came the drugs. WOW dude. Can I say, hospital drugs are some good shit. I was so off tap when I woke up. The nurses were so lovely. I got an icy pole, ginger ale and some crackers. One of them even fed me water. Like she stood there, next to my bed with a cup of water with a straw, patted my head and asked me if I wanted a drink. Like I was a small child.
The nurses told me everything was routine, that I had nothing scary going on, and that I have a small hiatus hernia, but there is nothing to worry about. The doctor came back, confirmed this and said to organise an appointment with my local doctor for the results in five days time.
It’s now an hour before my appointment and I cannot wait to hear an answer. I want a diagnosis, and I want to know what I can and can’t eat (If you’ve been following my snapchat (ainslie_mg) you would know what I’m on about). But mainly, I just want to get better. Or at least what is happening and how to handle it. I’m no longer spending hours in my bathroom, but I’m still not great. I don’t have much energy since I’m hardly eating and I don’t want to push things and go backwards.
So, I had the appointment, and the doc sent me off for more tests. Can you see a pattern happening here? The Doctor told me the problem is definitely my gallbladder, but I was sent away for more tests to make sure it wasn’t Primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver, and a million other conditions. I then waited another seven days before getting the all clear from all of the things except for a sludgy gallbladder. In the mean time, I regressed. Yep, I went from rice crackers, avo and a wee bit of lettuce back to crackers, or nothing. And I became close friends with the loo again.
So, ANOTHER TRIP to the doc gave me a referral to the specialist so I can hopefully have my gallbladder removed and finally feel well again. This whole time I’ve been fantasising about eating food and dreaming of what my next proper meal will be (Pizza, pad thai, burgers, pulled pork, CURRY WITH SAMOSAS!!!!, soft cheese, chocolate, wine and beer and motherfucking whiskey.) I’ve done my best not to think about what surgery will be like, as I’m not good with medical procedures. As a kid I kept out of danger, and I never even broke a bone, so my time in hospitals or medical centres was few and far between (although, some kid did tip pond water on me, which made me break out in hives, which ended with a late night trip to the hospital, but there’s a difference between some itchy skin and someone inserting things into your body). A friend suggested a natural remedy, which, to be honest, I’ll consider, but I want to talk it over with a trained medical professional. Having said that, this whole process could have been a heck of a lot shorter if the trained medical professionals diagnosed me properly the first time…
For now, I’m back to taking it one day at a time. I’m still sleeping on the couch as it feels better to sleep upright, and it’s easier to sleep upright on the couch than in my bed (oh man I miss my bed. AND lying down horizontally). I’m about to have lunch which will consist of rice crackers with vegemite and I’m counting down the hours till my next overpriced (I’m tottaly doing the wrong PhD!) specialist appointment where maybe, I’ll get a straight answer. If there is one thing I have learned from all of this, it’s ask questions. I mean, sometimes the answers may lead you up the garden path, and prolong the issue, but ask questions anyway. When I was told this was my body’s reaction to stress, I asked for more tests. Yes the tests dove me mad, but I knew, deep down, this is not how I normally react to stress. Sure, I don’t doubt that stress exacerbated what I was feeling, and that stress was a part of the poor diet leading up to this, but how I was feeling was not a direct reaction to a stressful situation. My symptoms were not typical, so I can understand if the doc was puzzled, but I made sure that I asked what the medication I was prescribed did. Would it react with anything. In sum, I was a pain in the arse but I was through.