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June 13th, 2007
05:55 pm
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Baxil Not-Quite-Death Watch, Day 4
The short version: The doctor's visit helped. Medication + blood test + rollback to all-liquid diet have had a dramatic effect (though it's a bit too early to tell if it will last). The presence of kadyg (details), as well as reader sympathy, were tremendous morale boosts. Take me out of the "broken, bedridden, exhausted" column and move me to "jerry-rigged, ambulatory, tired."

Blood test showed nothing wrong; the cynics may collect their wagers.

I've been lying around the house all day again -- but it's been a liberating sort of lying down. I spent most of today in bed by choice (well -- on doctor's recommendation), not because it was a battle to roll out of bed and plod to the kitchen. A good night's rest has eliminated the horizontal-too-long vertigo (ever had that? When you lie down for an hour, but aren't at all sleepy, your brain starts thinking it's upright and then your head swims when you get up? ... If you're in bed all day, this becomes more or less constant). Also gone: The constant muscle fatigue from trying to arrange pillows and a wall into something resembling a chair.

Credit goes, in about equal quantities, to the medication and to Kady's return home.

I've got plenty of experience with loperamide. It's miraculous stuff, and during my hike it singlehandedly helped me limp on through giardia. However, I've also been afraid to take it since this whole gut thing started, because back at the very beginning, I downed a tab of it and spent that night shitting blood.

In hindsight, that was probably due to the diarrhea's cause cause being C.diff. Slowing down gut motion is not a good thing when your body is frantically trying to flush out damaging toxins.

Naturally, without having a good diagnosis for my current woes, I really didn't want to risk that again. Fortunately, the doctor's handholding and discussion of the difference in symptoms was enough to change my mind. (The accountability issue was certainly one factor: "Hey, doc, the thing you told me to do, as opposed to my own dumbfuckery, now has me shitting blood. AARRRGH AMERICAN HEALTH CARE!")

To be honest, though ... this didn't feel like c.diff, and it is a pathetic testament to my state of medical affairs that I am able to distinguish between at least three different diarrheal causes based purely on texture.* (Maybe I should take my first visit to a Third World country and expand my repertoire?) And it turned out not to be infectious, anyway; the blood test showed no elevated white cell counts.

That narrows this particular attack down to either a food intolerance, or else (as roaminrob suggested, and which is starting to bear serious examination) some body issue such as IBS-PI. I'm already working on an elimination diet to rule out the former; once my gut stabilizes I'm also going to schedule an appointment for an occult blood test to rule out anything more serious.

At any rate, Kady's visit provided the other half of last night's recovery. She came home from cooking school and missed a day of cooking class in order to ... cook all evening; she made -- from scratch! -- chicken broth and beef consomme and some apple gelatin (i.e., not from a box ending in "-O"). The doctor had ordered me to regress to a clear-liquids-only diet, and all I had in the house was water and Gatorade; Kady's visit allowed me to actually have some variety. And calories. Ohhhh, yes, important calories.

I don't know what my exact weight was before this started on Sunday, but when I weighed in at the doctor's office I was at 183, which I figure to be about a 5 percent drop (and at least two waist inches) in 48 hours. (And that's after partially compensating for Sunday's dehydration.) I've been burning reserves continuously since this started, and I'm still going through them now, but at least I'm starting to turn the trend around. A liter bottle of Gatorade's only about 200 calories; I went through that much within about two hours of her return.

So, the bottom line is: It looks like I'm past the worst of this particular bout. Its severity and speed were pretty terrifying, so I'm going to try to take this opportunity to learn how to stave it off again.

I can't afford any more guessing. Savings will cover this one, but between lost wages, doctor's visits, and Kady's trip home, we're out $500.

--
* Giardia is lumpy (and shocking, happy-face yellow); c.diff. is slimy (and horrible smelling); and the current (and, yes, multiply experienced; just never this severely) OMGFUCKEMPTYTHECOLONNOWitis is something akin to being hit with Spider Jerusalem's gun. Aren't you glad you read the footnote?

Current Location: ~/brainstorm
Current Mood: nauseatedrecovering
Current Music: "Man to Ray," Juno Reactor
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(15 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:silussa
Date:June 14th, 2007 08:07 am (UTC)
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And now you know why the general advise on diarrhea is to let it be, at least for the first 24 hours; to allow the body TO flush itself. *wry grin*

glad it's nothing too serious.
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From:baxil
Date:June 14th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC)
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Don't always have that luxury while backcountry hiking.

But, yeah, "flush out the bad stuff" is a great theory. It was the "24 hours" part that had me a little worried, what with going on three days of nothing but.
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From:a_rowan_dryad
Date:June 14th, 2007 02:02 pm (UTC)
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LOL - yes I could have skipped the footnote but my morbile curiosity actually when looking for that damned asterisk. :P

I don't know much about IBS-PI but I do know about food reactions. If I injest much in the way of onions or peppers or cilantro (basically any of the HOT foods) I get what you are dealing with. Granted not 3 days of terror but that might just be because I have learned to have a very sensative pallet that can taste the least bit of the stuff. I can have a small amount with no danger but it is a very small amount.

I hope your doctors figure it out soon. I had to figure mine out on my own by trial and error. UGH.
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From:a_rowan_dryad
Date:June 14th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC)
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*morbid
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From:baxil
Date:June 14th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, it really seems like people's bodies have a threshold for certain food aggravators. I'm the same way with onions - not with the diarrhea, but with gas and general intestinal malaise. A lot of folks have the same effect with milk products; a little is OK, but more than that is overload.
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From:roaminrob
Date:June 14th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)
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I like to eat cheeseburgers that have set out for at least 8 hours.
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From:baxil
Date:June 14th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)

;-)

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That certainly explains the state of bathrooms you visit.

(Please insert http://userpic.livejournal.com/30742685/534115 as usericon.)
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From:roaminrob
Date:June 14th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)

Re: ;-)

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I really felt sorry for the poor customer that came into our office and visited our restroom shortly after I had demolished in a toxic ball of noxious gases.

...OK, well, maybe not. I think I should be sorry about it, but after almost 30 years, it still makes me laugh like a twerp.
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From:a_rowan_dryad
Date:June 16th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)

Re: ;-)

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What is sad is that made me laugh... :P
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From:roaminrob
Date:June 14th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
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Incidentally, it's estimated that a large portion of adults with IBS are actually undiagnosed as lactose intolerant.

Even more interesting is that lactose intolerance was the natural state for all adults up until somewhat very recently, in which a class of Europeans began developing the lactase enzyme throughout adulthood and were then able to digest milk products. After several generations, lactase production is finding its way into wider and wider populations, but native American populations for example are still almost 100% lactose intolerant.

Also, lactose intolerant people can still generally digest up to 8 oz of milk product per day. It's only after exceeding that that they tend to develop intestinal unrest.
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From:kadyg
Date:June 15th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC)
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Double plus interesting: People of northern European descent have the enzyme to digest cow milk and a huge swath of the world does not. Most of Asia, big chunks of Africa, etc. Pretty much any culture without a cow-based economy.

Also, if you don't eat meat for long periods of time, you lose the enzyme for that protein. You can still eat it, but you'll hate yourself later.
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From:paka
Date:June 14th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
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That's really freaky. I mean, this sounds that much like it should be giardiosis, and it's not, according to you..
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From:baxil
Date:June 14th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
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A lot of the symptoms overlap, but some important ones don't. Speaking from experience, anyway.

The tricky thing about intestinal illnesses/sensitivities/parasites/etc is that symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating are Generic Malfunctions, and it's a complex system. Diarrhea in particular is the "my car won't start" of intestinal issues.
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From:kadyg
Date:June 14th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome, glad i could help.

Also, it was stock - not broth. /pedant chef
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From:elynne
Date:June 14th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
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Very glad that you are not at all dead. *hugs* And sad that nothing firm has been nailed down (um... no pun intended), in re: diagnosis; feh. Still, if your doctor did some handholding and actually talked to you about stuff, that's better than you've had before, so yay-ish. Having survived is the big yay. :] *hughughug*
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