Get an Outside Opinion

I’ve been having what feels like panic attacks, gut pains, and extreme breathing difficulties for a while now. I’ve seen two different gastroenterologists from my gastroenterologist’s office (my doctor hasn’t been available).

Both doctors think it’s just in my head and that there’s nothing wrong with me.

So while describing my problems to Melissa yesterday, she said it sounds a lot like heartburn or acid reflux.

She suggested I try taking a bunch of Tums and sleeping with the head of my bed elevated.

So exhausted as I was from barely sleeping for several weeks, I drove out to 7-11 at 2am to get Tums. The clerk didn’t seem surprised at someone showing up at 2am and barely being able to say the word “Tums.”

In the parking lot I immediately opened the package and took a few. And as I was driving back I already started burping.

When I got back I tried to elevate the head of the bed frame and it was way too heavy to lift. Then I realized I could prop up the boxspring within the frame – but unfortunately the boxspring slipped through the hollow bottom of the frame. It was all way too heavy to deal with, so I dragged the mattress onto the floor and stuffed some pieces of shelving under the head area to prop it up.

Thus I was finally able to sleep from about 3am to 5am and then sleep some more until 9am — the best sleep I’ve done in a month.

The moral of this story is:

If you don’t know what your problem is, keep explaining it to people until someone recognizes it.

Now I know that I’ve had a ulcers before and acid reflux problems, but once you’re in pain and not sleeping it is very difficult to think straight and properly put 2 and 2 together. Between the panic, the pain, and the lack of sleep I really felt like I was dying and I could not think at all to even remember that I’ve felt pain like this before when I had ulcers.

Why two different gastroenterologists couldn’t look at my chart and see I’ve had ulcers before and think that I might be having an acid reflux problem, I have no idea. Maybe it would have worked better if I could have seen the doctor who I’ve been seeing since 1997.

But if I hadn’t told Melissa, I never would have been pointed in a direction that started to provide some relief.

This reminds me of how I wound up seeing a gastroenterologist for my Crohn’s.

After four years of struggling, the magazine I had with my ex-wife had finally started working well enough that we were able to rent a house to live in. We were in the process of moving into it and my body starting failing in all sorts of ways.

I hurt bad enough that I agreed to see a doctor. I made up a list of all the problems I was having:

  • diarrhea
  • stomache pain
  • nausea
  • weakness

For some reason I added these symptoms to the list because they were problems I was having, even though I was sure they weren’t related:

  • back pain — even though I knew that it must just be from moving and lifting a lot of stuff
  • fevers — even though I knew that they were just from catching a cold or something

This doctor took a look at the whole list and all he would tell me was that I should make sure I have good health insurance and then I should get myself to see a gastroenterologist.

If I hadn’t given him that entire list, he might have just passed off all the symptoms as stress the same way all the other doctors I had seen had done.