Hello, my name is Susan, and I love playing doctor with the internet.
It’s not as kinky as it sounds.
I know from all my previous experience that most of what I read online only leads to more questions, and my quest for answers is never quite fulfilled.
Yet time and time again, I return to the world wide web and type in my health related queries.
I get my fix on websites like WebMD, where self-diagnosing internet MD’s, like myself, converge to secure (a usually fatal) internet diagnosis.
I actually did a video demo about the “dangers of WebMD” where I purposefully entered PMS symptoms and by the end of my search, even though I knew my symptoms were just my normal monthly cycles, I was half convinced I had a parasite caused by unknowingly eating poop.
So why am I on WebMD again now?
For those of you who have been following me since last summer, you probably remember my tummy troubles last year. If you’re new, I’ll summarize. Nearly a decade ago, I began getting sick to my stomach day after day. It took months of tests, doctors visits, ER trips, and one day a casual conversation my Mom had with a coworker to determine that I had an “intolerance” to wheat/gluten. For eight years or so I never fully recovered, and would become super sick three to five times a year when I would accidentally eat wheat and pay handsomely for the innocent mistakes.
Then, from about October of 2010 through October of 2011, I experienced terrible attacks, as I so dramatically like to call them, where I’d have awful nausea, chills, fever, the cha-cha’s (you know, diarrhea), and as a result lost 40lbs without trying. These attacks started happening a few times a month, then weekly, and then by last summer they were happening daily. They almost always happened in the late afternoon or evening, and would persist for 2-5hrs.
Last year I entered my symptoms and got the following internet MD results:
Congratulations, Internet MD! You could be suffering from any of the following:
- Celiac’s Disease
- Lymes Disease
- Chron’s Disease
- Graves Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Snake Bite
- Ectopic Pregnancy
- Dengue Fever
- Food Poisoning
- An ancient evil curse
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- West Nile Virus
- Just plain crazy
Okay, maybe some of those didn’t come up.
But after months of being sick, I finally saw a real-life doctor who ordered a barrage of tests. I enjoyed blood work, X-rays, CT scans, stool samples, colonoscopies, etc., etc.! What fun!
Although we learned NOTHING definitive from all my testing, I did learn a few things from my colonscopy. These lasting life lessons, like when taking copious amounts of laxatives (for the prep) never ever trust a fart, I’ll carry with me forever…
I actually learned quite a few things, you can read all that my colonoscopy taught me here.
Before I start reminiscing again, I’ll get back to the point; I actually have one, I swear.
So my GI doctor told me I should have had a endoscopy, and I should come follow up with him, but I was tired of the tests that yielded nothing, was busy in real life, and after coming to the conclusion that I could no longer tolerate even trace amounts of wheat (like eating fast food french fries cooked in wheat-tainted oil, cream of whatever soups in casseroles, and even from toasters/cookware I shared with gluten-ridden foods at home), I meticulously rid my diet of anything that had even trace amounts of wheat. I even bought myself a separate toaster, strainer, and other cookware to avoid any cross contamination at home.
And it worked…
Until I started feeling bad again this Spring, only this time with a pain under my right rib, no cha-cha’s just terrible nausea, and the occasional episode that involved puking too, with the old fevers, chills, and generally being miserable and baffled by my returning ailment. Although I gained 14lbs since the Fall (which I was happy I did), I have again lost another 7lbs without trying. I’ve had several attacks that lasted well over eight hours, and even had to miss my 1st grader receiving his first academic award at school because I was in the ER after an 18hour episode.
What now? Well, I did my internet sleuthing and blamed my gallbladder for being a no good asshole and not doing its job properly thus making me sick.
I’ve again had blood work, an ultra sound and a HIDA scan which all say my gallbladder looks okay. The blood work, which my GI ordered in October and I never bothered to complete, came back showing I do carry the gene for Celiac’s and with my symptoms, may have the condition after all (previous Celiac panels looking for antibodies were negative).
However, I have no idea what’s causing the current attacks, which unfortunately for my taste buds and accustomed diet, seems to be triggered by fatty foods (like beef, milk, cheese, and processed junk like deli meat and hotdogs).
Currently, I’m forced not only to eat my normal gluten-free food, but also no fats either.
For those who don’t know me, my moods are closely related to the quality of my meals, and I can tell you right now, I’m not little miss sunshine these days.
I go on Monday to see the GI doctor, the one whom I should have given a chance and seen last Fall, and I’m hoping I’ll get some answers. Most likely, he’ll order that endoscopy which I probably should have had done a decade ago. Thankfully, endoscopies have no poopy prep like the colonoscopy, so I’m not feeling too anxious about it (expect for this little nudging fear that I’ll have someone’s old colonoscopy tube put in my mouth by mistake…gross!).
So first, let me say thank you to those who have sent well-wishes on my Twitter, Facebook and email. I have been overwhelmed by the number of you who have noticed I’ve been somewhat missing in action lately. You’re all not far from my mind either, and I’m still here, just fighting the urge to puke every time I eat. I’m hoping to be back to normal postings and also working on the Glamouring page soon too.
Lastly, I feel I should issue a public apology to my gallbladder, who I assumed based on my expertise as an internet doctor, was being an asshole. I should know better than to assume…and to play doctor with the internet.
The silver lining here is that I’m feeling good in a bathing suit, just in time for my vacation. I won’t have to worry if I look better than Zach Galifianakis in my retro red bathing suit anymore:
Again, thanks for your comments and emails, and I’ll keep you all posted as I do my best to not give myself any internet diagnoses (although from my recent searches, my guess is I either have Celiac’s or am under the grips of an ancient curse).
Hope you’re all enjoy summer so far!