Part 2...Time to come clean...A medical issue over the past almost three months...


Pointy mountain top view from Southport, Tasmania.
In yesterday's post, as shown in this link, there were three factors contributing to my current medical issue which included the following, beginning last June.  Quoted from that post, the following was included:
"That was my mistake #1...long term use of NSAIDS (For back injury last June).
That was my mistake #2...consuming a high risk seafood from an unknown source (in Bali months ago).
That was my mistake #3...drinking two glasses of white wine every night during the 33 night cruise beginning on October 31, 2016."

Why I feel slightly embarrassed to share these details baffles me.  We all make mistakes that can wrongfully have an effect on our health.  None of us are exempt from this reality regardless of how hard we strive for health and wellness.

Then again, I may have higher standards for myself of striving for healthfulness coming from a family on my mother's side with a plethora of hereditary health issues, many of which have plagued me in one way or another over the years;  hypertension; diabetes (pre-diabetic in my case); heart disease (I've already had heart surgery in 2005); painful spinal conditions (requiring my current way of eating to reduce inflammation); thyroid issues (my eldest sister had her thyroid removed.  I take medication); cancer (my youngest sister had two horrific rounds of cancer).

On top of it all, obesity has been prevalent in many of the lives of my family members which inspired me as a young person to watch every morsel I put into my mouth in hopes of avoiding poor health.  Most of my life I've exercised and maintained a healthy diet in one form or another.

Boats in the bay.
Regardless of how hard we may try, many of us cannot avoid falling prey to heredity conditions.  As a result, I question myself while taking full responsibility for my recent painful and distressing gastrointestinal situation which presented during the first week upon our arrival in Penguin, Tasmania, after the end of the 33 night cruise.

In reviewing each of my above mistakes, I believe they all contributed to my becoming vulnerable to the raging gastrointestinal issue, particularly the wine drinking on the 33 night cruise.  In all of my life, I'd never drank wine or any other form of alcohol so many nights in a row. 

Add the fact that overall over the past 20 years I'd been a non-drinker prior to the cruise, I'd built no tolerance to alcohol and basically burned my intestinal tract pouring the two glasses of wine down my throat for 33 nights in a row which ultimately proved to be toxic.

During the cruise, I suffered no ill effects at the time.  Overall, I stuck to the two glasses a night spreading them out over an extended period, although on a few occasions where we stayed up late, dancing and carrying on, I may have consumed a third.  I found that staying at around the two glasses of wine would prevent me from feeling hungover.

Mountains at a distance.
As we settled in Penguin, after about five days, I started noticing a burning sensation down the entire length of my intestinal tract.  I had no specific heartburn near my esophagus or a sensation of GERD.  It occurred from the chest down.

On a mission to self diagnosis, I read copious reports and documents on what was plaguing me and how to treat it.  I literally tried everything available from the local pharmacy, and still the symptoms and discomfort continued.  Each time I ate or drank anything at all, I could feel it going down, burning all the way.

When I attempted to eat my one main meal a day, I became bloated and outrageously uncomfortable, unable to go out or do anything until the food slowly digested.  After a few days of this, I cut my meal into two small portions to no avail.  Even the smallest amount of food hurt.

Bright white sand beach in a cove, off the beaten path while on a dirt road.
There was no way I wanted to go to a doctor only to have to experience endless tests.  We easily recall in our old lives (around 2007) when Tom had awful IBS and suffered through one invasive test after another while we spent five miserable days and nights (he couldn't eat anything during this period) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  He was sent home with prescriptions that ultimately didn't help and had the potential for long term side effects. 

It was only after we devised a severe diet change that six months later his symptoms were gone and he stopped the seven pills a day.  But, I'm already eating that same way and still the burning and bloating persisted.  Certainly, diet alone is not be the cure-all for that which ails us.

Continuing to try everything I could, once we arrived in the Huon Valley, where better medical care was available in the capital city of Hobart, I made a doctor appointment at a well-known and reviewed integrative medicine clinic in hopes of a solution.

The doctor diagnosed me with gastritis and/or IBS and prescribed an herb to soothe the intestinal tract while it healed, slippery elm and the vitamin zinc.  He said to return in three weeks if it hadn't improved.  I must say the slippery elm helped, an herb that when added to water thickens, providing a coating along the intestinal tract.  I was to drink this off and on all day and did so diligently.

Low tide at the beach.
Within a week, the burning was gone.  I was ecstatic. But, the pain and awful bloating continued after eating, to a point making me fearful of eating, to go out or to ride in the car when impossible bowel issues accompanied the condition.  I struggled to eat enough to avoid losing weight which would only exacerbate the problem.

At three weeks, I realized the slippery elm was no longer necessary but something had to be done.  As much as I've resisted traditional medicine, I bit the bullet and made an appointment with our landlord's recommended traditional medicine physician located down the road in Geeveston.

I couldn't get an appointment for several days but went ahead and booked it for Tuesday this week.  There were a few nights I was so miserable, I thought we may have to go to the hospital in Hobart. I persisted in avoiding this option.

The only time I felt relief was immediately upon awakening prior to eating or drinking anything.  Even organic, caffeine free herbal tea would cause problems.  Instead, I sipped small amounts of tepid water throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated.

As soon as I met with the traditional medicine doctor she was convinced I had gastritis or possible IBS depending on how soon it would resolve.  She gave me a prescription for a PPI (proton-pump-inhibitor) a drug to which I've been strongly opposed to due to its potential for long term side effects. 

The doctor suggested a two month course of the drug. Also, I had several blood tests for numerous possible conditions, all of which were normal.  Thank goodness.


Ocean view from Dover, Tasmania.
At this point, I had to let go of my soapbox stance on drug side effects.  I needed relief and I needed it fast.  Although the drug doesn't promise immediate results when it may take weeks to become effective, I noticed an improvement in the first 24 hours.  I could actually eat a medium sized meal with slightly less discomfort.

Although I'm still suffering with the bloating sensation after drinking and eating, its not as painful and debilitating as it was.  I can only hope and pray for continued improvement.  In only 13 days, we're boarding a 12 night cruise.

Guess I won't be drinking the "free" wine on this upcoming cruise.  Actually, after this experience, I've decided to return to my former "no alcohol at all policy."  I never minded not drinking and could be just as content with iced or hot tea.

If its not fully resolved by the time the cruise ends in Sydney, I may decide to see a gastroenterologist for some of those unpleasant tests.  Time will tell.

Huon River view from Highway A6.
As for experiences in Tasmania, I'm grateful for those I pushed myself to do.  In each case it's been a struggle but there was no way we'd stay in the entire time.  As you've seen, some of our photos may not have been as interesting and exciting as during other periods of time in our travels.  We did our best.

Adding the five months of severe back pain and now over two months of this current issue, I've had a painful and difficult past many months.  However, through it all, we remained hopeful, embracing our surroundings as much as possible and always, feeling grateful to be experiencing the world and happy to be together.

Thank you for "listening" to my story.  I share it only in an attempt to be "real" in our daily ramblings of living life on the move.  Its not always easy.  Its not always joyful. But, we continue on with love and hope in our hearts and minds for the future yet to come.

Enough about that!

Be well.
__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2016:
Our favorite photo of the day when we visited Puketi Gardens in New Zealand.  Zoom in to see this bee's facial features.  Amazing!  For more photos, please click here.

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