In early 2010 I first saw my gastroenterologist, Dr. Tack (who I mentioned in my list of "Winning Doctors"). At that point, I was having almost constant, burning stomach aches, especially after eating. During my initial exam he found blood in my GI tract and assumed I had an ulcer. We agreed that this most likely developed from overusing NSAIDs during a particularly painful period. Although we were able to control my stomach issues with Prilosec and Misoprostol, I still have periodic pain. Dr. Tack has been suggesting an endoscopy for a while now, but the idea of having a scope put down my throat wasn't exactly thrilling. Furthermore, I've been preoccupied with getting my Spondylitis under control, so I decided to postpone the test.
As I wrote about in this April post, I started experiencing a slew of other problems this past Spring. The hardest symptoms to cope with were dizziness and tremendous fatigue. I could easily sleep for 12 hours a night and then needed several naps throughout the day. I had constant mouth sores and was losing hair in clumps. I felt truly awful. When my blood results showed that I was anemic and had extremely low levels of Ferratin, internal bleeding became a concern. My stomach was also acting up again, so Dr. Tack ordered the endoscopy to check for a bleeding ulcer.
So I had my first endoscopy a little over a week ago and it wasn't as bad as I expected. I wasn't sure if I'd be aware of the scope, but there was an anesthesiologist present who ensured that I was blissfully unconscious. The only part that proved difficult for me was the the IV. The doctor must not have positioned it properly in my vein because, as the medication started dripping, my vein started burning intensely. I was more scared by this than the average patient because of my IV horror story from 2008. By the time I was able to explain my pain, I was out and the procedure had begun. Dr. Tack biopsied several areas of my stomach and upper intestines. Thankfully, the results revealed there is nothing to worry about. Whatever the reason for my anemia, another bleeding ulcer was not it.
I'm thrilled to say that all of those symptoms have essentially disappeared. I've been taking iron supplements and they've made a world of difference. Compared to the fatigue I was experiencing in the Spring, I honestly feel like a different person. Furthermore, my Spondylitis seems to be entirely controlled by a combination of Orencia, mild pain medication, and a gluten-free diet (Knock on wood). This is the greatest blessing I could ever imagine. With my pain lower than its been in years and my new-found energy, I've been making all kinds of summer plans....and keeping them! I know this disease is cyclical and this may not last forever, but for now I'm savoring every moment in this body.
Thanks for sticking with me, my wonderful readers. I hope you're all feeling well and staying cool during this exceptionally hot June! I love hearing from you all, so please feel free to leave comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, or just a "hello."