Bellyaching About Bellyache

Yesterday I had my three month check up with the doctor regarding my new healthy eating regime and the effects (or otherwise) to date on my decidedly dodgy digestive system.

Since I went for my first GP appointment nearly five months ago now, I’ve had an ultrasound scan (showing gallstones and a fatty liver) and both a colonoscopy and gastroscopy (showing a squeaky clean clear bowel and an inflamed stomach) and have been ultra-careful with what I’ve been eating. Low GI, low fat, low sugar, no citrus, less spicy foods, and no red meat at all – and definitely no comfort eating.

So, yesterday I was able to report back that my acid reflux (causing my stomach inflamation) is loads better, partly thanks to my medication and partly thanks to my change of diet – woo-hoo! So that’s a major improvement, no burning pain and no constant regurgitation after eating absolutely anything – result! No idea if my cholesterol levels are any lower yet, but further blood tests will reveal all soon enough.

And of course however great it was to know I don’t have anything nasty going on like bowel cancer (runs in the family, so a potential genetic predisposition), the colonoscopy didn’t answer the question of why my overall digestive system is still so problematic after all these months – no great improvements there. Oh, and my agitited, agitating gallstones are still giving me all kinds of grief too.

Apparently my next step after all these tests and change of diet is a referral to the gastro-intestinal clinic to see what they decide is best to do to help me feel better. My GP has suggested that I may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as my irritated gallstones, because my ongoing description of the pains I’ve been feeling account for both conditions, but that remains to be seen.

In the meantime I’m just bellyaching about bellyache because I’m finding it’s wearing me down, feeling uncomfortably bloated at best and curled up with sharp spasms at worst. And me and my toilet bowl are becoming far too attached to each other – a passing acquaintance with a perfunctory daily visit is quite enough; two, three or four times a day is just a tad over-excessive in my book.

Hopefully the gastro-intestinal consultant will be able to help me find some kind of workable solution for now and on into the future, because if I do have IBS too it seems the stress of pretty much constant bellyache might actually potentially be creating even more more bellyache for me… Grrr…

OK, rant over for now – aaand I’m off to the toilet again… sigh! 😦

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Back Again!

I’m back again! Thankfully my 83-year-old dad is well on the road to recovery after his most recent stroke.

Well, ‘recovery’ in the sense of beginning to be on the mend again, slowly but surely, still in hospital for the time being but hopefully well enough to go home again in the next week or two. Physically his mobility is even more impaired than before, but he still manages to walk a little bit with a zimmer frame as long as someone is with him. And mentally his vascular dementia has inevitably deteriorated a bit more, but he’s still dad underneath it all and he still holds on tight to the promise of getting home soon…

I’m just so relieved he’s still with us, the first few days after his stroke were worryingly hit and miss but he’s finally finding his way back… love you dad ❤

Off the Radar

I’m going to be off the WordPress radar for the next few days at least, and maybe longer… My dad’s had another stroke so is currently in hospital and I’m off up to Scotland tonight on the sleeper train to see both him and my mum. He’s 83 and has had several previous strokes over the past couple of years, and also has vascular dementia so sadly his health has been noticably deteriorating for a while. No idea how long I’ll be away, I’ve only booked my ticket up for now, but will see you all again when I get back, whenever that may be…

Spontaneous or Stick in the Mud?

Hmmm… I’m not generally the world’s most spontaneous person, as much as anything because for me life has not historically lent itself to the freedom – the luxury in my book – of spontaneity. Well, apart from my very beginning – I was born in a hurry as my mum went into spontaneous labour three weeks early, and as I was lying in the transverse breech position I was eventually delivered by emergency Caesarean Section in the wee small hours of the morning.

I had a lot of sore skin and bad breathing allergy problems as a child which, while growing up, seriously restricted what I could eat and what was safe chemically to come into contact with – in fact I was in and out of hospital several times throughout my formative years due to particularly bad flare-ups – so inevitably a lifestyle of learned caution and careful consideration was born positively out of necessity rather than negatively out of negligence on my part.

I had my first baby a scant month before my nineteenth birthday, and then two more in relatively quick succession (with my third baby born just two months past my 21st!) and as a young mum of three I tended to continue to be cautious for my children’s sake. So I may appear to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud by some people’s standards, but I owe no apologies for that. I have always had personal responsibilities that took precedence, first to myself and then to my children, but not (I feel) ever to answer apologetically to the uninformed opinions of rest of the world at large.

However in spite of my obvious lack of spontaneity I don’t really consider myself to be conservative at heart – I can still be a reasonable risk taker when the odds weigh favourably enough, and I certainly haven’t lived my life quietly hiding in the shadows respectfully toeing the societal line without question. I studied full time for my degree as a single-parent 30-something adult, graduating with a First Class Honours Degree at 40 – two years after I first became a grandmother – so am certainly not averse to venturing into unknown waters in the right circumstances.

Personally I feel that had my lifelong health issues not restricted me so badly in early childhood and beyond, I may well have developed more spontaneous behaviour from the start, continuing on from my unconventional and unpremeditated entry into the world. But like it or not I am where I am – still living cautiously with my ongoing allergies well into my fifties, with all three children grown up safe and sound and out in the world creating their own lives, one with a successful career and two with young families of their own.

No gap years, no travelling the world, no spontaneous ‘fun’ in that sense for any of us. But I have to say I’m very proud of all of us for simply doing our best in life with whatever hand we’ve been given… 🙂

Weekly Word Prompt: Spontaneous

A Mess of Stress

So, apparently this week Fandango is curious to know how I deal with stress? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… oh… well… um… maybe laughing maniacally at my on misfortune isn’t exactly the level of response required here.

Historically I’ve always dealt with stress by comfort eating. Currently though, due to recently diagnosed problems with my digestive health, I’m having to be VERY careful about what I eat – including eating minimal animal fats, salts and sugars, which I must admit pretty much make up the bulk of all my usual comfort foods… sigh 😦

So right now on top of the stress of everyday generic life stresses AND being menopausal I’m also trying to deal with the stress of NOT comfort eating by distracting myself wherever possible from my cravings for comfort food. Colouring in, listening to music, walking, crying and feeling sorry for myself… And when that doesn’t work I’m stressing myself out even more by beating myself up for not coping, creating an even bigger internal mess of stress.

But I’m determined I’m not giving up on it all, my ongoing internal health is important to me so I’ve decided to try to help reduce my external stress factors by giving up instead on all news of Donald Trump messing about playing chicken with China and Iran, Theresa May messing about playing chicken with both the European Union and her own parliament, oh, and America making itself even more not-great-yet-again by banning abortion…

My blood pressure just can’t handle it all any more, I feel like I need to ban all news coverage for a while. So I think I’ll take to sitting here with my fingers in my ears going la la la la la la la… a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but at least hopefully my digestive system will be happier 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Strain

As well as my undergraduate degree (BA Hons in Psychosocial Studies – a deliberately cross-disciplined blend of psycholgy and sociology) I have also achieved a post-graduate certificate in Applied Positive Psychology. It was actually supposed to be a Masters Degree, but for varying reasons at that time I found studying a real strain so decided to knock it on the head only a third of the way through. The parts of the course I had already passed gave me enough credits to be to be awarded the PG Cert, so here we are.

The thing is, I was both working full time and studying part time (working Monday to Friday with weekend lectures), and after my 92-year-old grandmother died followed a couple of months later by my best friend’s husband (early 50s, cancer), my head was so full of new and unresolved stuff I just couldn’t concentrate properly, so initially took a break for a semester, and simply never went back to my studies. To be honest, I think had the course truly fulfilled the need I had for finding answers in my own life, I would probably have found a way to keep going, but as it was, I gave up.

In diametrical opposition to the intention of me studying Applied Positive Psychology, the whole experience left me feeling completely out of step with most of my classmates. Where they readily embraced many of the ideas fully and with a genuine enthusiasm, I felt resistant to many of the assumptions that were made as they simply didn’t resonate with my own life experience. I felt like the Eeyore of the group, an unintentional grey misery of negativity. The realities of my own disfunctions become glaringly obvious to me and I could see I was becoming depressed again, so withdrawing from the course seemed the best option for me at that time.

And I have no regrets – neither in relation to beginning the course nor ending it when I did. It did for me what I needed it to do, but not quite in the way I’d intended. I learned that I still had a long way to go to heal the psychological hurts of the past, and that Applied Positive Psychology was not going to be the way forward for me in this aim after all. But I still keep on looking for answers, and keep on keeping on – and I’m still here, plugging away at life, so I must be doing something right, mustn’t I? 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Strain

Colouring In is my New Comfort Eating

Due to a recent diagnosis of several mid-life digestive health issues, I currently find myself having to face up to the seriously negative consequences of my ever-present emotional eating for comfort. At 55 I’m really not finding it easy, because old habits die hard and after a lifetime of swallowing down my disappointments and reducing the bitter taste of quietly taking my doing-what-I-should-be-doing medicine with the proverbial spoonful of sugar, I’m finally facing my food demons and dealing with my past pains instead of always shutting them up with the promise of tasty treats.

Changing my diet so completely inevitably also requires a necessary change in both attitude and lifestyle, and the emotional consequences of such a massive change means that right now I’m constantly craving the comfort I’ve historically found in food, which of course is the very thing I’m trying to relieve myself of in the first place – Aaarrrggghhh..! It’s unbelievably complex for me to delve so deeply into exploring why I’ve developed such bad habits over the years going all the way back to childhood, and although I’m finding it a complete head-fuck at the moment I’m determined to see it through.

So instead of eating for comfort whenever I feel bad, I’ve been concentrating on colouring in – absolutely loads of colouring in. I really enjoy it, it keeps me busy, and it creates a very different kind of distraction from food. I find I have to be physically calm to colour in well – I like smooth lines and soft shapes, not jerky erratic strokes all over the page. So I tend to start off staccato, and focus on stilling my movements until everything starts to flow better from my hand. And you know what? Once the colour flows smoothly, I do actually feel a bit better emotionally too – at least, relaxed enough to have passed beyond that particular point of craving food for comfort, anyway.

And as well as the physical calmness I find in colouring in, the more emotionally relaxed state it brings me to seems to be responsible for creatively opening up a line of communication with a host of other difficult issues that I’ve also struggled to process in the past. I find myself feeling increasingly curious to explore them now, as if the more the pressure is off the more things seem to come to me, naturally and organically. In finally letting it all out instead of swallowing it all down, it feels as if I’m able to deal relatively comfortably with the emotional as well as the physical issues held within my errant digestive system, which surely can only be a good thing?

So while physically I’m getting to grips with a whole new way of eating, emotionally I’m comfort-colouring my way to good health and wellbeing, in the hope that I can build myself new creative habits to help over-ride the familiarity of those old destructive patterns of behaviour, once and for all…