Getting to know the school nurse on a first name basis.

I hit puberty early. Uncomfortably early. Well, puberty isn’t really comfortable for anyone, is it? I hit puberty earlier than most girls, and long before the awkward videos in the fifth grade. I didn’t understand well what was happening to my body. I didn’t understand why those girls where SO good looking. But I also didn’t understand why I felt sick so often. You remember when you had a ‘tummy ache’ the teacher might send you to the nurses office for some pepto bismol or something like that? Well, MRS. PRICE didn’t do that. She’d put her hand on my forehead and tell me I was fine, and send me back to my seat. I’d sit in class feeling ill, not nauseous, but not well. My stomach hurt, and I didn’t know why. I had to use the bathroom more often than my peers, and that was embarrassing. It was hard to concentrate when my ‘tummy hurt.’ I think MRS. PRICE, like MRS. LORD, and MRS. CHRISTENSEN all believed I just wanted to get up and walk around. The latter two would at least send me to nurse, who I got to know on a first name basis: a couple times a week I’d lay down in the nurse’s office and feel miserable, but I’d never actually get sick, so I never could explain what was wrong.

In 7th grade, it got to the point that I decided something was wrong. I told my mom that something was wrong. I was, at this point, in the nurses office at the junior high almost every day. I think mom, like my teachers, just thought I was looking for reasons to get out of class (which was probably not entirely untrue, at least not completely). She humored me. She took me into the doctor who promptly diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He didn’t really do any tests, nor did he give me a treatment plan, besides ‘don’t eat foods that make you sick.’ Thanks, doc. “Hey, it hurts when you do that, so don’t do it.” duh. Problem was, (and still is) that I don’t really have any foods that make me sick. Oh, Mexican food doesn’t love me as much as I love it, but that’s true of many of us, right?

As I got older, I began to just deal with the tummy aches and the other… problems… with the syndrome. Lately I’ve begun to question that initial diagnosis, something that every other doctor I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot) have failed to do. You see, IBS, while nasty, is the catch-all diagnoses when they’ve ruled a few other problems out (Including IBD in its different forms), and my doctor didn’t rule anything out. No other doctor has questioned that initial diagnosis. But IBS is also affected by different foods, which explains the doctor’s advise: certain foods trigger it, and can be avoided. I don’t get triggered by certain foods. I am always sick to my stomach. It’s not nausea, it’s pain.

Have you seen Amazing Grace? You should if you haven’t. It’s great. Not just a little, it’s really… amazing. Seriously. But don’t expect a light hearted movie, it’s not. I first started to question my diagnosis when I watched Amazing Grace. You see, the movie is about William Wilberforce, one of the world’s lesser known heroes. HE suffered from colitis. Ioan Gruffudd’s acting is so convincing that I… how do I word it? I didn’t empathize with the character… I… knew. That may not make any sense, but I his acting was so effective that I began to wonder what the modern diagnosis would have been for William, surely colitis is one of those old timey diseases that we have a much better understanding for now, right? Actually, no. Colitis is one of the forms of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). At the risk of self diagnosis, it fits my symptoms much better than IBS. There are some tests to be taken, and I haven’t yet had those tests, but *crossing fingers* here’s hoping for a more accurate diagnosis: you see, colitis, while MUCH worse than IBS, can be treated because it is actually a disease. It doesn’t really go away (short of removing major body parts) but it can be treated. I like treatment better than pain.

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