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Helicobacter pylori: The Beginning to My Five Year Struggle

September 9, 2008
If I were asked to use one word to describe what my body has felt like in the last five years, it would be cross. My body has been perpetually cross. Once, after dental surgery with anesthesia and then sleeping all day with a pain pill in my body I woke up for a brief second and felt young again. Young is not quite the right word; actually, the right word is pain free. At the time, I labeled it young because when I was younger I was without physical pain or at least I was without chronic physical pain. The blissful feeling only lasted as long as it took me to process what I was feeling. It was a wonderful feeling and at that moment, I understood why some people become addicted to pain pills. Fortunately for me, I am not the addictive type or at least the next pain pill did not persuade me to fall prey to addiction because that initial feeling of being completely pain free did not return, so I did not continue with the pills. I did not need them anyway; it was not as if my gums were still hurting. However, I will never forget that pain free second, it made me yearn for my youth and become cynical about aging. My thoughts were, if I feel this physically bad at forty-one, how horrible would it be at fifty, sixty, and seventy. Around the same time I was having dreams that I was debilitated and unable to get out of the way of moving cars or falling objects.

My pain is/was mainly in my stomach. For a while I excused the pain each day, —I do not eat well, I am stressing too much, I am exaggerating my pain, my body aches and overall fatigue have nothing to do with my stomach. When I could not take the pain anymore, I went to the doctor. I told him that I was gaining weight too, around two to four ounces a week. This is when it all started. I was told I needed to lose weight. My only and main problem was that I am overweight. If I lost weight, I would not have a problem. I told him that I have not been overweight as a child, a teenager or as a young adult. How was it that I was just gaining weight now? It was his opinion that I was facing middle age and weight gain was simply part of the process. This is a common explanation given to women who complain about pain, especially if that pain is not located in their reproductive system. To his credit, he did consider my consistent burning pain a little bit. Therefore, he recommended that, I make sure I chew my food properly, swallow properly, and avoid fatty and spicy foods, and pepper, coffee, chocolate, tomato sauce, oranges, grapefruits, and similar foods. In addition, he gave me a prescription for Aciphex. Initially the Aciphex was a gift from Heaven. I began to sleep at night without waking up in pain, and I could eat (still not just anything) without suffering afterwards. I was so pleased I thought about my father and his brother. I wished they had Aciphex in their time. For the last ten or so years of my father’s life, he became very thin and frail because most everything disturbed his stomach. Finally, a doctor gave him a prescription for Tagamet or maybe Zantac (this was before it could be bought over the counter). It helped some, but not completely. His brother, who lived much longer also suffered from the same ailment. Their older sister died of undiagnosed stomach cancer. She was found alone and dead lying on her sofa on her fiftieth birthday.

7 Comments
  1. Polly Styrene permalink
    May 10, 2009 11:07 am

    Thanks so much for this Kitty. I have to go back to my doctor next week to demand they test for H Pylori, because I am having similar symptoms. Their only solution so far has been to prescribe proton pump inhibitors, one of which nearly killed me off, but would do sweet FA to the H pylori.

  2. Mary Sunshine permalink
    May 10, 2009 1:16 pm

    Hi,

    You might want to check out this abstract:

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/339/26/1946

    It costs $10 now for the article, but I got a full text copy a few years ago for free. It’s on an old computer, but I might be able to find it.

    I used mastic gum as a result of reading that and it fixed my ulcer no problem.

    I was able to order mastic gum at that time through an obscure Greek source on the internet. Now the health food stores have picked it up.

  3. Polly Styrene permalink
    May 10, 2009 3:11 pm

    Thanks Mary I’ll check it out. I am about to begin an intensive programme of broccoli eating twice a day because that’s also supposed to act against H pylori.

    http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/04april/pages/broccolisproutscutgutinfection.aspx

  4. Polly Styrene permalink
    May 10, 2009 3:14 pm

    Needless to say the Daily Mail manages to get the ‘ladette’ culture into this, but still

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-97549/A-gum-cure-stomach-ulcers.html

    • May 10, 2009 5:09 pm

      How irresponsible of them to focus on drinking as the culprit or at the very least a contributing factor. I’ve never been much of a drinker, at all. But, if I were to read that article I think I would conclude, oh, since I am not a drinker, they cannot to be talking about me, must be something that happens to drinkers. I hate that type of irresponsible reporting.

      Perhaps they got it from Prime Suspect. I’ve just finished watching the series, and Mirren’s character ends up quite the drunk.

  5. May 10, 2009 4:59 pm

    Polly, thanks for reading this. In case you have not read the other two entries, here is the link. To me the most important step is getting that urea test. Because it nails H-pylori, if your stomach is hosting H. pylori. Perhaps, I’m just a baby but the test did suck, especially since you have to have an empty stomach, and throughout all of my ordeal, an empty stomach was the hardest thing to achieve. This in hindsight was the source of the prejudice against me. I did not realize it at the time, but I needed, NEEDED a full stomach. If my stomach was slightly empty, it hurt more, a lot more. This is my reality that doctors did not believe, but instead attributed to gluttony/lack of will power and a five-year enormous weight gain (of course I have only lost some since I have been treated, but, BUT, the gaining has ceased). Maybe that is not the case for everyone, but since I have discovered what was my problem I have now read others who claimed they needed a full stomach as well. Full stomach 24/7/5 years = enormous weight gain. Now that the H. Pylori is gone my body can react more naturally, it no longer has to panic when my stomach is half-empty or even at times empty. I’m no doctor but I suspect an empty stomach allows more acid to be produced and without food to buffer the acid away from the H.Pylori, there is more pain because the acid is all around the H.Pylori (I called mine Carl the Horrible). Then, if I recall, for some reason the stomach starts producing more acid (too much) because of the signals the H.Pylori gives off and thus creates one big painful mess. I just know now, if my stomach were to hurt, I could not rest without it being proven that I do or do not have H.pylori. They know little about H.Pylori, not really sure how it is transmitted (they can only speculate). The test has only come about in the last 20 years.

    No one else in the house had it, but also, I used to belong to a few different clubs/organization/my school/job and ate there as well, so, it is anyone’s guess.

    Nevertheless, I will tell anyone, –demand/get that urea test.

  6. Polly Styrene permalink
    May 10, 2009 5:23 pm

    Apparently 50% of the population have the bacteria by middle age Kitty, it’s just one of those things that you can pick up from anywhere. I’m not in a vast amount of pain right now, but I can tell something’s not right, and I’m determined to nail it before it gets any worse. I’ve ordered the mastic gum off the internet and I’m going to give that a go definitely and see it has any effects on the blighter.

    I think the full stomach helps as you say, because it dilutes the acid. I’ve been using the types of antacid that coat your stomach and they work temporarily but they’re not a long term solution. And the proton pump inhibitors I was prescribed nearly knocked me out after one dose, and made me feel terrible.

    The Daily Male always try and mention ‘ladette culture’ whenever they can as part of their ongoing war against women aka drunken sluts. They also claim women drinking leads to pregnancy. And there was me thinking you needed sexual intercourse.

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