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It’s the week before my wedding. While I’m spending it frantically creating packing lists and stressing over last minute details, I’ve prepared for you a series of posts sharing with you my “stomach story.”

I haven’t delved into details before now because it’s not something I want to be defined by. On the other hand I live with these issues everyday and it’s therefore a large part of my life. Seeing as how stress is one of the triggers,  my pre-wedding week seemed like an appropriate time to share.

I’ve eluded to my “stomach issues” many times throughout the course of this blog. I thought it was about time to share what exactly that means in my world. I’ve found solace in reading blogs about the experiences of others and knowing I’m not alone in what I’m going through. I can only hope that this post does the same for someone else.

My entire life (literally from the day I was born according to my Mom) my GI system has been off kilter. Food just wouldn’t process and work its way through like it should. It’s something that I just accepted as a normal part of my life. Little K and the Zoo

In the fall of 2009 things worsened. Regularly I would experience intense pressure in my stomach after eating, as if someone was pressing their fist at the base of my rib cage. I would experience abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort regularly. It got to the point where it was happening more often than not and severely impacting my life.

I distinctly remember being so excited to go out to dinner with friends for Baltimore Restaurant Week, only to be left in pain, feeling like a balloon was inflated under my ribs before the meal even ended.

Restaurant bar tables and chairs in black and white

This type of experience happened so often in fact that I adjusted the position I slept in so as to be able to apply pressure to my stomach (one of the only things that made it feel better). It happened so often that my roommate would ask “what’s your number today?” in reference to how much discomfort I was in on a scale of 1-10.

I began journaling my food and resulting symptoms, attempting to find patterns, but nothing stood out.

Meal and symptom tracker for GI upset

I finally decided enough was enough: it was time to seek treatment.

A trip to my physician informed me it was NOT celiac disease, but maybe just some type of acid reflux. I was given antacid and sent on my way. While it helped somewhat, this turned out to be only one part in a very complicated puzzle.

Since I was still having issues I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. She ordered an endoscopy to rule out ulcers or other upper GI abnormalities. I was hopeful that by going in there they would see something and I would have answers! But alas, no. Since everything looked fine, and my tests were normal she handed me the famed “diagnosis of exclusion” — Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I inquired as to what the next steps were and she essentially told me there were none. It was just something that people have to manage and live with.

Oh…ok…awesome. And by awesome I mean depressing.

Everyone else insides, my insides cartoon

[source]

There’s been quite a bit more since then including working with a nutritionist, yet another gastroenterologist, learning about FODMAPs and (as of recently) getting a breath test. But that’s enough tummy talk for one day.

Writing all of this down has been cathartic for me as I reflect upon the epic battle of “Kerry vs. stomach.”  I’m still a work in progress but am slowly but surely arriving in a better place.

I want to know…

(Seeing as how this isn’t the most upbeat post)

Tell me something positive. What was a highlight of your holiday weekend?

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