Coded green despite some disgusting content.
Pic of the day: The feeling of impending doom...
For the last several years, I have had sporadic symptoms associated with stomach ulcer: Acid reflux, stomach pains (especially between meals), and for the last year abdominal discomfort after eating fat. I have taken moderate quantities of anti-acid over the counter drugs for a few years, not every day but pretty frequently, and it seems to work most of the time. I also avoid aspirin-class painkillers because of their effect on the stomach lining, even those months and years when I could have needed them. Except a very few acute attacks, I have thought this was under control. That is, until I got sick today.
It began with fairly normal bowel movements, which is hardly a reason for worry since I had not had any all weekend. (Perhaps my digestive tract has finally understood that such things should be done on company time. It is uncomfortable enough, when you have hemorrhoids, without having to do it for free!) But the bowel movements returned and grew more urgent and intense, to the point of diarrhea. At this point in the past the stool was always paler than usual, which makes sense since it has not gone through the phase of concentration in the colon. Today, however, it was pitch black. This set my alarm bells ringing.
When an ulcer starts bleeding, the passage through the small and large intestine causes the blood to be degraded from red to a black pigment. Blood also acts to speed up the digestion. Black diarrhea could be a symptom of acute bleeding. I called the doctor's office and got an emergency appointment. Better get this checked out before the stomach unravels completely and I die horribly in my own bloody vomit, right? I already did feel a bit queasy.
The regular reader will know that when I go to the doctor, no matter the reason, something embarrassing happens to me, after which the doctor declares me to be healthier than a normal human and bills me a few days' food budget. This time was no exception. (There actual was an exception five or six years ago, when my sinusitis was serious enough to warrant antibiotics. But usually it is like this.) As I had not thought to bring a sample of fecal matter, the doctor took it upon himself to fetch a sample from the source, as it were. This procedure was similar to a digital rectal examination, and reminded me why I think people are crazy if they want the analog one. I maintain that people who think anal sex is a good idea are either pathologically insane or have never actually had objects shoved up their rectum.
The test for fecal hemoglobin was luckily very fast. In a matter of minutes I got the message that there was no blood. The color presumably comes from the blueberry jam I put in my breakfast cereals, which also changes color to square black during the digestive process. Why exactly I had diarrhea on a Monday after having no bowel movement all weekend was left unanswered. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, perhaps? Just Plain Crazy Bowel Syndrome? Whatever it is, the doctor did not consider it an emergency, and I had to agree with that.
Well, I am starting to get fed up with this, and with the good advice from my friends who have lost loved ones to this and that with the same symptoms as I have. Next time I feel like going to the doctor, I am going to think thrice. My ancestors did not go to the doctor until they were dying anyway, and they lived to 80 and 90. Well, except my mother, who died at 78 after a generation of cancer because she waited too long with the one "birthmark". I guess I should stop acting like a spoiled American and accept my heritage, or something. But at least it provides some much needed amusement to my readers, I assume. Seeing other people getting embarrassed is a source of great joy to humans, is it not? I seem to remember so.
But I may need a 10 year absence from the waiting room now to to clear the hypochondria flag...
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.