Luckily, Wilson College had January off. I spent all that time trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with my stomach and freaking out about the fact that I was about to start my student teaching–while sick. Finally, they send me for an endoscopy.
In case you haven’t heard of an endoscopy before–I hadn’t–it’s when they knock you out and stick a camera down your throat to take photos of the inside of your stomach.
No, not like that. But you get points for being adorable.
I had never been knocked out for anything before, and I was nervous about it. I had heard horror stories about people who had been given the paralytic drug, but the one that was supposed to render them unconscious didn’t actually work, so they were AWARE FOR ALL OF IT!!
Although, an endoscopy doesn’t involve scalpels or anything, so I’m not quite sure what I was freaking out about.
But by this point I was freaking out about *everything*. The problem is, my stomach is my stress organ. When people get stressed out, feeling worried or guilty, they have different physical reactions. Some people get a headache, or break out in a rash. I get a stomachache. So I would be feeling sick, would get worried about feeling sick (especially for my fast-approaching student teaching), would feel more sick, would feel more worried…
You get the picture.
So I was worried about the anesthesia. Turned out I didn’t need to be. They knocked me out with an IV. The anesthetist told me to count to five. I went, “One… Two…”
–and woke up in a different room.
For about half an hour to an hour after I woke up I felt a little strange–like the world was going in slow motion. I couldn’t remember what order things had happened in, and I couldn’t remember exactly what the doctor had said about the results of the endoscopy. Thank God my dad was there. (Seriously, why do doctors tells patients important information while they’re still woozy??) I also really cracked up my dad by coming to with the words, “Ugh. I drooled on myself.”
The nurse in the recovery room was really sweet, but weirdly patronizing. She got me some cranberry juice and I joked around with her about how Dad had promised he would take me to McDonald’s after the endoscopy because I hadn’t been allowed to eat anything all day because of the procedure. She kept smiling and nodding like I was a nutcase.
Turns out, the entire time I was slurring like a drunk.
Dad sssaid we c’d get McDonldssss…! Im so exsshxcited…!
Thanks, Dad, for the heads-up.
Anyway, the results were that they couldn’t really see much of anything, so they diagnosed me with having “probably some mild gastritis.”
Love that air of certainty.
So let’s review: A bout of H. pylori had given me a stomach flu that wouldn’t go away, made me sick every evening for a month, and eventually created some mild irritation of my stomach lining, which caused me excruciating pain and an anxiety mood disorder.
Not that I blame them for not immediately going, “AHA! It is a case of LYME DISEASE, Watson! To the Batmobile!“
…or whatever it is that diagnosticians say. My symptoms weren’t the most common Lyme symptoms ever. I mean, they talk about Lyme disease as originally manifesting in flu-like symptoms that don’t go away–but they don’t talk so much about stomach-flu-like symptoms. It’s only in retrospect that this makes sense with Lyme, whose EXTENSIVE list of potential symptoms includes “diarrhea (unexplained); constipation; abdominal pain, cramps; upset stomach, nausea, vomiting; frequent heartburn; and bloating,” as well as “panic, anxiety attacks; and difficulty falling or staying asleep” (I often jerked awake when my heart would start racing like I’d been given a shot of adrenaline).
So looking back, I’m pretty sure this was the first major manifestation of my Lyme disease, which was basically a nearly decade-long series of unexplained medical mysteries. The decade of… THE RX-FILES!