Monday, February 28, 2011

yucky stuff

For a while now, I've been meaning to write a follow up from my original posting (almost one year ago!) on my lovely condition called, redundant colon.

And as I sit here now, trying to breathe deeply through the pains of yet another attack, I figure now's a good time to update.

Like most people who have this, there are good days and bad days. I have a hard time sticking to any sort of routine, so I bet if I was better about this, there'd probably be more good days than bad. This past Saturday Tom and I met a friend in town then went to lunch in the city. Since we were over our 5 mile radius from home, I was very careful about what to order. I had some pita bread and veggies and light hummus. Tom had this nasty looking stew that smelled like dog food and some special IPA beer. I sipped my plain iced tea and ate my pita and then Tom asked me to taste his beer. It was a restaurant special that was unfiltered and unpasteurized and it just didn't taste right. I had about 3 sips total, (just to confirm that I really didn't like it) and by the time we left the restaurant I could feel my stomach start to churn. By the time we pulled into the driveway, it had blown up like a balloon. I have no way of knowing if it was from the beer alone or if it was a combo of everything else and the beer just tipped the scale. We had plans that evening with friends and as I was getting ready for the night the sharp, stabbing pains in my ribs and belly began to get worse. I did not want to cancel but I knew it was going to be an uncomfortable night. My stomach was making these alien sounds and it looked like there was a nice sized cantaloupe under my shirt. I changed my clothes and drank some tummy tea and sat for a bit just breathing through the pain (like I'm doing now) and then my husband, who is usually very understanding when these things happen, was growing impatient and says to me, "Would you just go to the bathroom already!?!" I had some choice words for him.

What I'm finding out is that most people with redundant colon have days or even weeks of constipation. That is not typically what happens to me (except when I travel). My norm is that I have these blow up moments and severe pain and then it's like a ticking time bomb as to when the explosion is going to happen. So I can't just "go to the bathroom" on command, but once I start to feel those little spastic sensations I better get to a bathroom quick. It's kind of similar to a roller coaster ride. The car goes through lots of loops and twists and turns (that's where the pain comes in) and then it slows down and climbs uphill, up and up and up at a slow moving pace and then it finally reaches the top and then full speed ahead slams down the tracks with intense force and there's just no stopping it. You get the picture.

As I've mentioned in my previous post the Dr. prescribed Dicyclomine which has pretty much lost its effectiveness. There have been times when I'm out in a public place and the pill doesn't work so then I pop a Zantac, chase it with a Mylanta and then start chewing Tums like candy but at that point, I'm doomed.

I decided to share a list of food items that have triggered some major issues, usually within minutes of consumption. For those of you also suffering through this, maybe you noticed similar reactions to these foods:

-milk and cereal together (separate they are ok, dry cereal and juice is fine, milk alone is fine)
-cooked onions and garlic together in a dish, whether it's pasta, chicken, fish etc.
-warm, drawn butter
-wheat toast and coffee together
-soda and popcorn together (think movie theater, NOT GOOD!)
-any type of cream based soup
-any type of artificial or sugar free sweetener
-sushi with a mayonnaise based sauce
-chicken, egg or tuna salad sandwiches
-poultry, pork or meat with seasonings, like Lawry's or Peri Peri rub, anything with spices

It took me a while to put the milk and cereal combo together which looking back now, should have been a no brainer. One would think that it was a lactose/gluten intolerance since but I can have either of them separately without instantaneous issues, it's not the case. I was tested for Celiac back in the summer of 2009 and it came back negative, however, my doctor told me the results are only about 75-80% accurate and you're supposed to consume gobs of gluten for about a 2 week period prior to the blood test so who knows. There could be a bit of intolerance there but the only way to officially find out is to have an endoscopy which I decided was not something I needed to do at this point. Getting roto-rooted from one end is enough for now.

I've tried some different herbs and natural remedies for blow up days and one thing that I wanted to share was this tummy tea. It's specifically formulated for IBS pain, spasms and cramps (accidentally typed craps at first, which is also fitting!) and has brought some relief on the bad days.

So that's my update, thanks for reading and for fellow sufferers please know you are not alone.


karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been having terribly stomach issues over the past month or so, and am not sure why - stress, menopause, or what. I would like to try that tummy tea before bedtime at night!
I hope it gets better for you.

Anonymous said...

Lacking sympathy after your FB post that Spicy Cheez-Its and Chocolate Pudding constituted a well balanced dinner a day after this "episode".

Smileygirl said...

Anon: What's funny is this "episode" happened BEFORE my Spicy Cheez-Its dinner. But what does that matter. I'm certainly not looking for sympathy. It is what it is! And if you're a friend on FB why not say your name!?!?

Karen, I'm so sorry to see you're going thru a rough patch. Try some of those teas. There is also a fennel tea made by the same company that might be helpful as well.

Anonymous said...

You know the body is a complex system and garbage in is garbage out. I suspect the meals prior to the episode weren't all that stellar.

I post as anon because even as your friend, someone should call you out on the contradiction. Consider it friendly advice. Eat better.

Smileygirl said...

Call me out on my contradiction?? Not quite sure I understand. I wrote this update around lunch time and didn't get around to posting it until later so it was not due in part to what I ate for dinner. I respect my friends and their insight very much and appreciate their concern, but have a hard time with the anonymity of this post. My friends would have no problem telling me who they really are if they were genuinely concerned.

JW said...

Laura, sitemeter is your friend.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information. I can relate to alot of what you wrote.

Sara said...

Sounds to me like your "friend" is more concerned about calling you out then your eating habits! I'm not on face book so I don't know what that was about.

I am also going to get some of the tummy tea. I like that they come in other flavors because I'm starting to tire of ginger and Smooth Move teas!

Thank you.

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

I wish I could say that I feel your pain, but it wouldn’t be true.

I’ve had occasional upset stomachs, but nothing on your scale. I deal with problems with my ears and my feet, and I’m sure we all have our personal “internal body issue” cross to bear. I can only imagine the frustration of having to schedule and arrange your personal and social life around such a private matter.

I’d read about the pain and the attacks on your blog, but I’ll never forget the one time I actually witnessed it firsthand. You were at our house and we took a walk to the dog park not 10 minutes away. All of a sudden you asked (ever so sweetly!) if we could get back to the house ASAP. You were pale as a ghost, breathing shallow, and the lights at park picked up the sheen of sweat on your forehead. You were in so much pain, trying not to clutch at your belly, and it was incredibly intense to witness it. I desperately wished I could do something for you.

I hope that soon doctors will find something that can alleviate or possibly even cure you, and so many others. That would be such a blessing.

I will say that you are doing as much as you can do in terms of alleviating some symptoms through herbs in your teas. Peppermint and fennel have long been known to calm gastrointestinal inflammation and/or irritation. If you care to try it, I’d like to tell you about something my great-grandmother and my grandmother used to give us when we had upset stomachs. I still use it now.

If you can,, buy some whole fennel seeds. Most international markets sell them in bulk or pre-packaged in 1 pound bags. I get mine at the Middle East Mart here. In a coffee bean grinder, grind a couple of tablespoons of the fennel seeds. Pour the now powdery fennel seeds in a bowl and mix in some good sugar. It’s ok if you only have table sugar, but try to get a good raw sugar crystal. You can have the ratio of fennel to sugar be equal, or to your personal taste. I prefer it at 1 tbsp sugar to 2 tbsp of ground fennel.

Then, just kick back and have yourself a nutritious bowl of ground fennel and sugar. Ha! It’s dry and powdery, so it is a good idea to have your tea or something soothing to drink along with it.

The tummy teas that you drink have the essential oils from peppermint and fennel, but if you grind the fennel seeds fresh each time, you’re getting ALL the essential, calming oils without any dilution from manufacturing, packaging, or hot water.

Sugar in and of itself is a natural antacid which is one of the reasons that artificial sweeteners irritate you. If you are ever out and you find you don’t have Tums, or Maalox, or something similar, don’t be shy. Rip open a couple of packets of sugar and slowly eat them. Next time you’re at Starbucks, stock your purse with the little brown packets of Sugar in the Raw!

I had a friend in law school who suffered from terrible ulcers, and he always had sugar packets with him. He loved coffee and orange juice very much, but couldn’t drink them without a little bit of added sugar. The sugar actually reduced the acidity of the coffee & juice and prevented his ulcer flare ups.

You’re in my thoughts, tiny friend. Love you and your repetitive colon. XOXO

P.S. In re Anon, please bear in mind that what we post here or on FB or anywhere is nothing but literal snapshot of our daily lives. Mere seconds in a 24 hour day. It is difficult and unfair to assume anything unless you are living in someone else’s reality.

Smileygirl said...

Oh sweet KBL, I remember that visit to your home and how much fun we had. What's funny is, I completely forgot about that "episode"! I only remember how much I enjoyed being with you and your brood and even remember picking up your China Green Tips tea at Starbucks for our walk! I miss you.

Thank you so much for your suggestions on the fennel seeds and raw sugar. I will absolutely try that and will think of your great grandmother and grandmother any time I use that remedy. GREAT idea about the raw sugar packets. I don't typically put sugar in my coffee but you can bet your bippy I'll stuff my pockets with a pack or two whenever I visit the bean shops! You rock.

And it's soooo true that what we post on here is just a snippet of our lives, the same goes for FB (even though I am a serial poster on there), it's still just a brief snapshot of what I choose to present to that world.

You have been in my thoughts and I look forward to our next phone chat. Miss and love you. xoxo

ChiTown Girl said...

If I could just piggyback on what KBL shared-

It's not uncommon for Italians to use fennel seeds to calm tummies, just like KBL shared. Although, instead of grinding them, they just chew the seeds. I realize that might be kind of a strong flavor, especially if you aren't a huge fan, but it works.

Australian Stephanie said...

Hi I can't remember if citrus was one of the things that sets off your tummy but I often make this Italian remedy for my own digestion problems. A piece of lemon rind (just cut a long piece off the lemon) and a bay leaf boiled together for a few minutes to brew a tea. Sip and begin to feel better - hopefully!

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