The New Year has arrived. I always prefer to plan my new year towards the end of January. The new year is always a tough start. You're getting back into the swing of work. You're recharging your social battery. You're thinking about the social expectation of trying to improve yourself, do something new, or change.
This Christmas period was the first one (while employed) that I have had off. I am technically in the service industry, but the company isn't international. I have found that companies which are HQ’d outside Europe (cough-America-cough) push the always-on-and-always-working mentality. Not realising that by being available, they set the expectation of being open and then cannot close because their customers expect them always to be open. Having this be the first company I have worked for, which is very local, is proving positive in many ways.
The downside to this Christmas freedom is my social battery needs some severe recharging. Towards the end of the Christmas break, I was chewing at the bit to get back to work. I went from loving Christmas as a kid, missing it when I moved to Ireland, to going back to having it a family affair, to not enjoying it at all. I now prefer the big dinner somewhere in the middle of December with adult friends and family. One afternoon or evening. Be festive and then feck off. We used to do that and then *gesture at everything*. I get joy out of the whole season rather than the day. Previously I could fill up my batteries by returning to work on St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) and flooding myself with normalcy.
As such, this year, I didn't relax at all. And when I have wound myself up, the stomach twists as well. Christmas eve, I was ill, and on Christmas day, my mood had shifted enough that I wasn't able at all. And we left to come home early on St. Stephen's Day.
So, I started 2023 with industrial levels of gas production in a country experiencing a shortage of certain medications. One of which is the one for reducing gas and trapped wind. My only goal for 2023 is to continue the health journey in whichever form that takes. I hope to get some respite as I have a holiday planned, including an 8-hour flight. I am volunteering for the aisle seat for the first time.
I have added Colpermin to my regime and will continue bringing in the new year with my minty-fresh farts. It's okay if your New Year's resolution is to keep moving forward. In many ways, that is the only direction we can go. #entrance#exit
I can often be found in bed with the desk fan on my face and a hot water bottle on my stomach. I’ll be on my back with my feet propped up. My face mask will be on, and an audiobook will be playing. That’s how I cope with the pain.
The cramping which comes with whatever this is can be something else. I do have antispasmodics for when it gets awful, but for the most part, an excellent old-fashioned hot water bottle does the job. With these spasms comes the knock-on effect of general muscle aches. So rather than just a “stomach ache”, I get lower back pains and, bizarrely, hip pains. It can be a bit of a workout when it gets bad.
I have some significant scarring on my lower abdomen, called: Erythema ab igne. It doesn't hurt and will fade, but it will always come back when heat is applied. Either from another hot water bottle, hot shower, bath, or even being in the summer sun. It doesn't bother me. My husband says it looks like the Turin shroud if Jesus had one eye. (The one eye is my belly button).
I don't know the science behind heat-on-my-tummy. I know heat helps inflammation, but the pain is inside. And not on the surface. And it's spasms. Hey, if it works, it works!
I have three hot-water bottles—one at work and two at home. The second one is a long thin one and is, quite frankly, shite. Firstly you can't fill it with only one kettle, and secondly, when you put it on across yourself, all the hot water falls to the ends, and not where you need it to be. So if you feel taken in by that gimmick, then turn away! Give me the traditional full-size rectangle fellas. And when the EU decides they're too dangerous, I will protest outside the Dáil. And also, when there's a power cut, you can't charge your hot water bottle, but you can boil water.
I'm not the only person with the same or similar condition who relies on a hot water bottle for pain relief. TENs machines are a bag of bollocks for me. So hot water bottle 4lyfe. #exit
There are three things you should never trust. A lawyer, a politician, and a fart.
It doesn’t take long to be hyper-aware of and familiar with your bowel movements. Medication often says things like “if symptoms continue….” Well, my lovely little duck, my symptoms have continued since February 2022, and I want to stop farting.
I can track a fart from its creation. I can stand in front of you and point as I trace the journey through my gut. Then, just before it breaks for freedom, I have to run to the toilet. Just in case.
Unfortunately, Ireland is also suffering from gas. Simethicone, the active ingredient in a popular ant-farting over-the-counter medication, is nowhere to be found.
I have started breathing through the gas to change its velocity. Which is a shame as I miss the heady days of launching a big one and patting myself on the back for its volume and longevity.
The breathing helps. First, the pain is eased greatly, especially if I am already lying down. Secondly, as movement exacerbates it, being able to eliminate going to the loo just in case is a quality-of-life update.
It would be nice not to have to do all this. Things I have thought about during the really bad times:
Fistula – they use these on cows to:
Transplant poo – introduce a healthy gut biome into my own
Get a bag – I was joking, but the gastro said, “It is something to consider, but we want to try non-invasive things before we go there”. I laughed nervously in response.
Just a vent – The plastic casing of a popular ballpoint pen shoved into relieve pressure
So, I daydream of a good hot drink (tea, coffee, honey and lemon) while hunched over a hot water bottle shoved in a pair of elasticated pyjama bottoms. The hot water bottle will get a post of its own. What a story that is. #exit
My gastroenterologist said many people call them meteors. I call them gurgles. And they're not in my stomach they are in my gut. But because saying 'my gastrointestinal tract hurts' I just say stomach.
Here I am at thirty thinks seven and I am already three colonoscopies and one endoscopy in. I guess being ahead of the curve means I’m probably more likely to catch something Bad ™ early. But that’s the problem; I haven’t “caught” anything.
I have “a gut disease” which is causing a “blood disease” which is causing “a gut disease”. And then a dash of mental health and you have me who if I was a cow on the farm would have gone to the factory years ago.
So why am I writing about it? I’m justifying it. Sometimes I wonder whether I am actually ill. How much information is too much? Especially in the world of digestion and excrement. I don’t think it should be censored. There’s a brutal reality here that I think many people don’t get. And considering how many people suffer from one of the many GI diseases out there it’s only right that I am blunt about it.
There is a problem. I love food. Actually, it’s more of a two-phase problem. I have a gut disease and I love food. And I want to write about food at the same time as I describe having a gut disease.
I’m thirty-seven. I have a “borrowed” Tesco grocery crate as a squatty-potty. I should buy shares in Andrex (and in an act of Nostradamus I was given an Andrex puppy teddy when I was born). And I drive around with a full change of clothes in the car like I have a toddler being potty-trained.
What a life, really. I’m meant to be a hip and successful D.I.N.K. Travelling, and exploring the amazing food culture here in Ireland. Instead, I strategically plan all bathroom breaks and carry a tactical hot water bottle.
I’m going to split the posts. Two a week sounds like a good starting point. One post about my tummy #exit, another post about the food #entrance. I hope you’ll join me on one, or both journeys. Despite everything, I am having fun!