My Story

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This Is My Story


When I was 14 I developed occasional severe diarrhea. It would come on quickly, usually within a couple of hours after eating, and it would disappear just as fast. By the time I was 16, scheduling my life around what had now become chronic episodic diarrhea, had become an acceptable way of life just like combing your hair in the morning. When I could eat, when I could not. Did I have to be somewhere? You can’t eat, Brandee. Is someone coming over? You can’t eat! It became an embarrassing, but well kept secret. I also started having these quarterly ‘female’ problems with severe cramping, lower back pain, chronic fatigue and loss of appetite which would last 3 days and then disappear for another 3 months.

During my sixteenth year, and after great urging from my mother, I finally summoned the courage to see a Gastroenterologist. I remember being asked by the nurse to strip naked from the waist down and put on a stiff hospital gown. I was lying on my side on a cold leather table when the doctor came in. My mom began relaying my history to him. The doctor did not ask me a single question, but did acknowledge me long enough to instruct me to roll over on my alternate side facing the back wall, which was now about twelve inches from my face. Without warning or explanation, the doctor performed a rectal exam practically propelling me through the wall from the shock of what he was doing and the pain caused from the procedure. When no blood was present in a stool sample, the doctor began having a conversation with my mother about what he would like to do next; completely ignoring me, the patient- sitting half naked in front of a stranger and scared to death because I did not understand what was happening to me.

In the end, I was scheduled to return to his office the following morning for a Sigmoidoscopy.On the way home, my mother explained to me what a Sigmoidoscopy was and what I should expect. Something the doctor had neglected to do.

The next morning, after fasting since 3:00 pm the afternoon before, mom and I left for the appointment. Upon arrival to the office, I was again asked by the nurse to remove all clothing from the waist down and was ushered, with mom in tow, into a room filled with all sorts of medical equipment and machines that set the fear alarm off inside my head. I was instructed to climb up on a table and lay on my left side facing my mother who was sitting in a chair at the beds side. After about an hour the doctor came in the room dressed in surgical scrubs with a mask hanging down from around his neck. Honestly, I was so misinformed that the sight of this almost catapulted me into a panic attack, which by this time, had also become a part of my life. (Terrified to leave your home because you ‘ate food’ can do that to a person.) The doctor announced that he would begin the procedure, which I will not bore you with. At the end of the procedure, he declared that all was well and diagnosed me with IBS- Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He wrote me a prescription for some antibiotics and Prilosec , which to this day I do not know why, as a common side effect of ‘the little purple pill’ is diarrhea. He instructed my mother to buy me over the counter Imodium AD with further instructions that I would take 1 per day. Unfortunately, I discovered early on in my disease that there was very little help for those with IBS. We were on our own for the most part.

After about 5 years passed, I began having daily heart flutters that would force me to cough. It felt like someone was slapping my left lung. I now know they are PVCs- Premature Ventricular Contractions. I thought that I was having a heart attack, but it turned out that the Imodium AD had been present in my body for so long, dehydrating my body of vital fluids, that it was affecting my organs adversely. Once I stopped taking the Imodium, my PVCs disappeared, but the diarrhea returned worse than ever. It was during this time I decided that I would try to control the diarrhea by way of diet. I stopped eating almost all together unless someone noticed at which time I would eat broccoli, raw vegetables and lean meats. But, mostly, I just did not eat at all.

Over the years I would continue to control my IBS as best I could. I became a hermit only going to work and home and started eating like a horse. I eventually put a lot of extra weight on my five foot frame, which worsened my entire heath profile and the way I would feel from day to day. I developed high blood pressure and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. I continued to deal with the quarterly boughts of ‘cramps’ and back pain with the added symptom of severe nausea. My Gynecologist (GYN) and Primary Care Physician (PCP) both concurred that I had severe Premenstrual Syndrome and advised me to take Midol as needed, which did absolutely no good at all. I could always tell when it was about to strike, as I would become very fatigued and begin to mentally prepare myself to spend the next 36 hours vomiting, in pain and trying to work a full time job while dealing with the pain and other symptoms. Because of the Imodium side effects, I had become a total medication Nazi whether is was an OTC or a prescribed medication, thus, refusing to take most anything.

In November of 2007 I was at work sitting in my office at my desk when I began feeling like I had been hit by a truck. The fatigue was setting in. I looked at the clock on my computer and knew I had about 5 hours before I would be on my back. Unfortunately, I still had 7 hours of work to go. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with nausea and grabbed the trash can from under my desk. I was very alarmed because it was quite clear that almost none of the food from dinner 14 hours earlier, had been digested. For the remainder of the work day, I continued to vomit, experience the worst abdominal and back pain I had ever had at that point in time, and just wanted to go home. By the time I arrived home I was severely ill. I showered, went to bed with a heating pad and marked up my day to some nasty beasty caught in the office germ pool combined with my PMS symptoms.

Upon waking the next morning, I expected my usual feeling fine with a fatigue hangover. I would get everything done that I possibly could before it hit me again in the early evening of day number two. I was very wrong. I woke up feeling horrid, in pain, nauseated and severely fatigued. I pulled myself out of bed and went to work. We had our monthly executive meeting on this day, so I took a couple of Tylenol and prayed to get through. By lunchtime, I was feeling better and joined in on the working lunch offerings. I had a small bowl of soup and a green tea. Within an hour I was rushing upstairs to the bathroom to vomit. I somehow made it through the day and chalked it up to stomach flu.

Over the next week my symptoms did not dissipate and in fact, they had become increasingly worse. I visited my new PCP and felt like I was being chastised for being a woman. This man of medicine made me feel as though there was nothing wrong with me and it was in my head. That my PMS was an excuse and other than a low grade temperature, which was probably due to a bug, there was nothing wrong with me and I might be overreacting. Dr. B was my new PCP whom I had only seen a couple of times after my regular PCP had retired. I decided right then and there that I would not return to Dr. B and opted to find a new PCP. With work, family and the holidays approaching, I managed to get through the next 2 months by somehow dealing with my symptoms.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar James May 12, 2012 at 3:19 AM

AWWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NESSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

avatar nicole March 25, 2014 at 5:57 PM

I have been told I have crohns colitis I am on steroids to see if the inflammations is working.HOw long dies it take to go in remission. Having the surgery in small intestine how long to heal. Please answer.

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