I got my diagnosis last Thursday. After all the testing, a tube down my throat and trip to the ER, the doctor determined my only problem was a little too much acid in my stomach.
As he told me this on the phone, my excitement at finally knowing what was wrong with me turned into a panic attack since this was not a one-and-done fix. It would take a few weeks of prescription acid-blocking medicine to return my stomach to normal. I answered the phone expecting to have my gall bladder taken out of me to stop the pain. But this wasn’t the case.
“You should be happy,” the doctor said. “You don’t sound happy.”
I asked him if I could change anything about my diet to make this healing process move more quickly. He said no.
When I hung up the phone, I started crying. I convinced myself I’d never feel better. I regretted taking the endoscopy test that left me with a torn-up throat. Basically I threw a huge pity party for myself.
I complained to Nick and my parents and friends. I wallowed in self-pity. I saw only the negative about my diagnosis when in fact it was probably the best-case scenario. I didn’t have to go back to the Cleveland Clinic for a surgery. I didn’t have to wait and wonder what the hell was wrong with me.
The next day, my coworker Sarah, whose husband is an ER pediatrician and told me it was probably just an acid overload from the beginning, better explained to me exactly what was going on in my belly. When food goes in, too much acid comes out to break it down and it causes a very small amount of inflammation on the top of my stomach. Now that I could visualize it, my mind started to change.
The president-elect of the American Holistic Medical Association told me it’s great that I have medicine and a diagnosis. But she asked me to think about the root of the problem.
My anxiety has grown ever since the start of college. I started to allow my worried thoughts to spin out of control and consume my life. And after all of the stomach pain trauma, which is not completely over yet but has vastly improved, I have had to look my anxiety in the face. I see it now, and I am actively going to reduce it. Stress is such a powerful force that it can do physical damage to a person. I’ve seen the signs and I’m ready to turn to positivity and forward-thinking rather than negativity and past-thinking.
I started to reflect on the support I’d had from friends and family while I was going through this. My entire office at the American Holistic Medical Association (which is a GREAT place to work when you have an illness) stood by me the entire time I was in limbo waiting to find out what was wrong with me. They told me to take off of work if I needed it and constantly asked how I was doing.
My friends textedand called me and asked for stomach updates all the time. Kelsey Mayer even sent me a get well soon card with a black cat peeking out on the front.
My parents and sister dealt with my sour mood better than they should’ve. Especially my dad, who took me to all of my Cleveland Clinic appointments while I sulked.
And Nick was by my side the whole time. When a pineapple wreaked havoc on my stomach and I told him I had to go to the ER, he jumped in the car with no shoes on and raced me there while he held my hand.
This painful experience has taught me that stress must be dealt with in healthy ways, like yoga, which I’m getting back into. It’s also taught me about the incredible support system that surrounds me, and has made me hope to be there for anybody who needs my help in their own time of need.