So, now that you know my stomach issue history, that I've always had a low level of stomach pain for as far back as I can remember, and that it stretches back 5 generations, at the very least, I thought I'd cover some other health issues I had growing up, as well as what my parents tried to do to help solve those health issues, as well as my stomach issues.
Growing up, there were 2 things that I always thought were a fact of life, because everyone in my immediate family had it- lots and lots of stomach issues, and stuffed noses and post nasal drip. Duh. Doesn't everyone always wake up with a throat full of phlegm, needing to cough it up? Doesn't everyone's body's make all sorts of lovely noises and smells at all hours of the day and might? Isn't that normal?
It just was normal for my family, and normal for me.
In addition to the constant low level stomach ache I had and “OMG I wanna die” flareups, I always, always, always had a stuffed nose. My parents took me to an doctor (I think an ENT) who said “You've got an allergic reaction, as if you have allergies, but I don't see any allergy, just allergy symptoms.” He gave what I had a name- “non allergic rhinitis”. Meaning “stuffy nose and phlegminess, not caused by an allergy”.
He prescribed all sorts of medications to try and eliminate that stuffiness and post nasal drip, but the antihystamines didnt help, nor did the Rhinocort or Nasonex or any of the other nasal sprays I took on a regular basis.
I was resigned that I just would have stuffiness and icky phlegm issues for the rest of my life. Because it wasn't caused by an allergy, according to my doctor. I feel I must add here that this doctor did not do any allergy testing on me, no blood tests, no skin pricks, etc... He just decided that I had no allergies, just allergy symptoms. Why he decided that I have no allergies, I have absolutely no idea.
My constant runny noses and constant stuffiness probably was good breeding ground for bacteria or viruses or something, I don't know, because on top of my usual stuffiness, I often got sinus infections. Or at least that's what my dad the doctor called them.
See, the fact that my dad is a doctor probably plays a big part in this whole story. My dad, while I love him dearly... is a little... antibiotic obsessed, shall I say. While other people may have large supplies of candies and treats in their house, we had huuuuuuuge supplies of medicines in our house at all times, especially antibiotics. And not just any antibiotics, but the really strong stuff, like Augmentin. We had a lifetime supply of it. Seriously. I think we always had a gallon sized container filled with that stuff, as well as similarly sized packages of Amoxicillin.
My dad was able to write his own prescriptions, and as a doctor, was able to get huge supplies from the pharmecutical companies. So whenever any of us had even the slightest maladies, automatically it was antibiotics. The strong stuff. High doses of Augmentin, 3 times a day. Not first checking if it was a virus to see if it would pass on its own. Not first testing out if the bug, if it was even a bacterial infection, would respond to low dose antibiotics. Always the strong stuff. I took augmentin so many, many, many times in my life. When I asked my dad how he knew it was a bacteria, maybe it was just a virus, his answer would be “It doesn't hurt to take antibiotics, just to be sure. There's no harm in it.”
I've learned now that there definitely is a harm in taking antibiotics unnecessarily. Lots of it. Hopefully I'll touch on that tomorrow. But at this point, I'll just talk about the harm I knew about then, because I would experience affects immediately.
The antibiotics killed my stomach. I had to take it with a full stomach, and then it only hurt my stomach a little bit. Those few times when I didn't have a very full stomach before taking my daily dose of antibiotics, I threw up.
I am sure that the antibiotics I took contributed greatly to my stomach issues I had, and very possibly to the long term ill health of my digestive system in general.
Back to my stomach issues. My parents took my to a gastroenterologist because of my repeated complaints of stomach aches. IBS was what he said when he heard my symptoms. But he didn't do any testing. No blood tests to check if I had Celiac. No endoscopy or any either invasive or non invasive tests. Oh- your dad has IBS? And you have stomach aches. Sure, obviously its IBS and not anything else. Was the doctor able to give any advice as to how to help my terrible stomach aches or help me figure out a reason what was causing my pain, so that I could avoid it? He said “Your stomach misinterprets digestion as pain. Take these pills (I forgot the name) to help suppress that feeling.”
Uh. Yea. Honestly, all due respect to that doctor, his explanation sounds like a load of BS to me. Instead of “Why don't you try doing x, y, or z?” or “Maybe a, b, or c is causing your stomach aches”, he says “Your body is misinterpretting what is happening. Suppress it via pills.”
Those pills helped a little bit. But I wasn't supposed to take them too frequently. I don't remember why. Maybe because they were bad for me?
ETA: The only thing that helped my stomach was that we ate lots and lots and lots of rice in my family. Probably at least 4 or 5 meals a week were rice based. My dad lives off of rice. I do too, now.
And one other noteworthy health issue.
In 8th grade, I started getting this patch of skin on my back, roughly 6 inches in diameter, that became very sore to the touch. But not just sore to the touch like a sore muscle. But hellacious pain. Lightly brushing against the skin made me want to scream. Clothing touching it made me want to scream. Air blowing across my back made me want to scream. My mom found me one soft tee-shirt that I was able to wear without grimacing, which was the solution to my school uniform shirt dilemma.
I went to the doctor, who said it must be a skin issue, maybe because of a mole that I had at the center of that patch. They removed the mole. Eventually the pain went away.
Then it came back in another place, this time with no mole. I went to a neurologist. I was prescribed Neurontin, a medication to help deal with nerve pain. It helped until the pain went away.
A bit later I fell and landed on my wrist, and dislocated a bone in my wrist, jammed my elbow and my shoulder, as well as spraining the lot of them. I damaged the nerve on top of that. Again, the searing pain, even from air blowing on it. Finally, I got a name for what I had. A tendency to reflex sympathetic dystrophy, (RSD for short, also known as Complex regional pain syndrome), when any nerve signal gets interpretted as pain. I was told that I needed to be careful, because if caught quickly enough, the RSD can be reversed, but if I injure myself again, I likely will have this severe nerve pain for the rest of my life.
With sand therapy, ultrasound therapy, and all sorts of other treatments that I got through an occupational therapist, the RSV was put into remission.
Over the years, and up until a few years ago, I'd get occasional flares of nerve pain. And of course, by the time I got an appointment with a neurologist (a few months later), the flare would be gone. And my grasp of the local language wasn't good enough to explain to the neurologist I saw what my issue was, and he had no clue what RSV was. But fortunately, I haven't had this issue recently, and I have a theory what was behind my nerve issues...
And so, you see my three main health issues were stomach issues, constant congestion, and nerve pain. And no doctors were able to offer me cures. At the very best, it was “lets give you a medicine so that your pain will be numbed” if even that. But nothing was treating my underlying issues, nothing was offered in terms of a reason for the issues or a cure for it. Just treating the symptoms, if even that...
ETA: It occurred to me only after I pressed publish that I had frequent yeast infections as a kid. I wonder if all the antibiotics I frequently took played a part in that. Ok, not wonder. Am pretty sure there is a huge connection.
And so ends part 2.
Part 3, tomorrow, will be about what my health is like now, and what I did to be able to get to that state, a healthier state that all the doctors I went to weren't able to get me to, but I have been able to reach through alternative means. Hopefully I'll also cover my theories as to possibly why I have/had these health issues and food sensitivities and seemingly more health issues than other people.
If you have health issues, how effective has standard medicine been at treating those issues? Do you have or know anyone with chronic congestion/non allergic rhinitis, constant stomach pain, or nerve issues like RSD? What treatments worked to cure those things, or did no treatment work?