Trigger Warning: Letting Go (Number Two) for title is horrifyingly appropriate — – although Letting Go of Number Two might be more apt. In case you’ve not yet deduced as much, I will be discussing bodily functions herein, because there are all kinds of letting go, as my bowels of late are wont to demonstrate and, too, I am extremely sick of feeling as if I am being kicked in the guts — this intestinal discomfort is like being beaten up and I must let it go, find a way, so, as always with me, that begins with talking about it. A lot. Ha. And when discussing the possibility (and symptoms) of IBS and colitis with a dear one she said, “No one ever really talks at length about these things. Which is weird because everybody poops.” Yes. We do. And sometimes, in great amount and frequency.
July of 2014. I was in training for my first long distance bike event, which included daily sessions on the road and in the gym, and extremely clean and healthy eating. I was in the best shape of my life. And it hit. I was wakened one beautiful morning by an intense pressure in my lower abdomen, a sensation of imminent explosion that had me running for the bathroom. I made it. Barely. The contents of my intestines exploded out of me as if my colon had become one of those water-pistol blaster toys, a powerful propulsion of liquid.
I was in shock. Of course I’d had diarrhea in my life but this wasn’t that. This was a violent, uncontrolled expulsion like my body was reacting to a poison. Which was my first assumption: I must have eaten something spoiled. I didn’t have long to think about it though, because episode two came within minutes. I was on the toilet, spasms of waste detonation, and it went on for days. Anything I ate or drank was soon blown out of me. My body wanted nothing inside it. My digestive system was a roiling, reactive war zone, attacking and rejecting anything I introduced as invading foreigner.
Since this post is sort of, well, not terribly pleasant, I thought a musical interlude would be helpful. This is a beautiful rendition of a gorgeous song by two extraordinarily talented artists who manage to fill a ballad of longing for freedom with joy and hope. So well done. And instructive, because in order for me to love again — love myself fully, open to another, move on, LET GO, and heal my body — I need to convince Charlie in the past to let go, release me from all the memory and fear and hurt and sadness, acknowledge it and move on. Love and Light, kids.
I am stubbornly anti-doctor, and so it took a few days and ultimately my weakness leaving me so exhausted I could barely walk to call my primary care physician. My income level and insurance coverage being what it is, I could not get in to my doctor for two weeks. They suggested that if I was that sick, I go to an immediate care facility prior to my appointment. I did. Instruction: take Immodium. I did. Didn’t work, in fact, made me more bloated and in more pain. Return. Instruction: take this antibiotic in case it’s a parasite and get your stools (uhm, that would be LIQUID) tested. I did. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get a stool sample but it is a disgusting process. I put it off for a week. By which point I had somewhat improved. Result: I got better. Test results showed nothing. Primary care physician said come back when it happens again. I explained they wouldn’t ever SEE ME for two weeks. Result: I was ignored. By the end of the near month it took for me to get better, I had lost ten pounds and spent weeks afraid to go anywhere or do anything because it was not safe for me to be more than a few feet from a toilet.
I never made that bike ride. But, by September 2014, I was fine again.
Then, Summer 2015. It started again. Only much worse. The pain was excruciating. I didn’t really sleep for more than a week when it began. Doctor couldn’t see me. (Surprise). Emergency care didn’t want to treat me again for the same issue when they felt it should be a primary care doctor issue. Finally was carried into my primary care physician. Passed out there. More tests. Result: this time it was discovered I had a rare parasite, usually not seen in this country. Two courses of strong antibiotics. But still, primary care said I need an appointment with a specialist — who couldn’t see me for two months — by which time I was fine again. He said I should come back when it happened again but always take probiotics. I explained it took two months to get an appointment. I was ignored. He said I needed to have a colonoscopy because of my age and just to check.
I did. I was fine. Picture of health.
Now, May of 2016. It’s back. Not like it was. Or, I’m used to it. But two weeks ago I felt the telltale pain and bloating and did the sprint for the toilet. I went back on the probiotics which I had stopped taking because they are so expensive and in about a week my bowels were better if not completely normal. For five days.
Two days ago, it came back.
I need to call a doctor, I know, but I am just not sure I am up for the dance of “you and the gastroenterologist both told me you wanted to see me while it was happening”, because it doesn’t usually seem to 1)be believed or 2)make any difference. The chances of me getting in to the primary care are slim enough, but getting there, getting the required referral, going through same explanation with gastroenterologist’s office and managing to do all this while it is still happening, are very slim.
So, I am doing my own diagnosing. I do not believe I have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease because there has never been blood detected. And while I have been suffering a lot of fatigue for the past year, I have never had night sweats or loss of appetite (except for last summer) in association with these episodes.
I suspect — and fear — this is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is a rule-out diagnosis anyway, and for which the symptoms are treated because there is no known “cause”, although stress is thought to be a trigger.
I do have some stress. Here is what I think I need:
- To continue my current focus of energy on LETTING GO of the dark-views and seeing things in a brighter, more loving light. Doing pretty well but I do think the effort — which really is a chemical change to my system — is causing me some “am I failing” and “how have I been wrong so long” and guilt and fear stress — on which I am working. Every day.
- Xanax — which I would only take as needed, on a temporary basis and which would require me LETTING GO of my fear and distrust of medications and my fear of my own addictive tendencies. I’ve done Xanax during one period of my life, six years ago when my reality was upended and re-shaped in a very necessary but nonetheless very stressful, accusatory, difficult way. I only took six total. So, I think I can handle a prescription without becoming addicted.
- A steadier source of income — or LETTING GO of my fear I am going to end up on the street and continue my re-defining of “need”. Truth is, I’m worrying a lot about money and obsessing on having lost my retirement savings and old age cushion, and spending too much energy trying to understand/make sense of why some have so little and some have so much and how this disparity in the world is feeding the hate brewing throughout this country and the world.
- To finish making the move to the new apartment and be settled in to that new routine, which includes LETTING GO of lots of stuff — material and mental — to which I’ve long been holding on, piling up in reserve, thinking I needed it to keep me safe or make me happy.
- I would — can’t believe I’m saying this — like someone with whom I can regularly hold hands, cuddle, depend on for affection. This would be the hardest LETTING GO. I’ve long considered myself not couple material, not attractive, not likely to be understood/accepted by someone as long-medium-short term regular cuddle material, and I have a foundational mistrust of men. And I want a couple of someones I can’t get back or never had and that is a huge block, because who I remember/imagine them to be and my distress from their departure/absence keep me from letting anyone else in.
That’s a lot of Letting Go, darlings. And while 1-4 are very doable, 5 seems extremely unlikely. So, maybe what I need to LET GO of is my desire to be cuddled, or, perhaps, unrealistic expectations. I mean, I managed to understand and accept I was never going to be a Broadway or recording star; never going to get a literary agent or publish a book; never going to be wealthy; never going to see Europe or Italy. I can LET GO of this renewed interest in a cuddle buddy.
And, here’s the thing, my body has clearly spent the last few years messaging me that there is too much being held inside, that I need to work on my release and purging systems, my physical Letting Go running amok. I need to listen.
And I am. Releasing it all. One mad-dash to the toilet at a time. And here, sharing it all with you. I mean, as a wise woman said, WE ALL POOP. Yep. So true, shit happens.
And in more ways than one, my darlings, here I am, going. Love and Light.