Wednesday, September 26, 2018

La Leche Life

Content Warning: frank writing about Irritable Bowel Syndrome and symptoms

I've been neglecting my symptom tracker. I tried to keep up with it when I was at a conference a couple weeks ago, but I didn't do a very good job and then I just stopped. No reason, really. I just got tired of it. And I'll be doing one more backpacking trip so I won't be keeping close track then either. I still haven't been having pain free days, but I think, overall, there's been less pain since the conference, and I think I know why.

I noticed that I was having fairly good and regular bowel movements at the conference, despite not staying nearly hydrated enough. And the biggest thing that I was doing differently when it came to eating was consuming milk products. I typically try to avoid dairy because I've got a history of issues with it. I never liked drinking milk as a child, and eating large amounts of cheese or ice cream tended to send me to the bathroom in pain, so I called it lactose intolerance and started avoiding, though I never really eliminated it. I like ice cream too much for that.

But now I'm consciously trying to consume dairy on a daily basis. The theory is that IBS makes me constipated and dairy makes me go - therefore consuming dairy should combat the constipation and allow me to be somewhat regular.

Of course, ideally, the daily pain would also become not so daily. That hasn't happened yet, but I want to give this experiment some time to work. And I have experienced less pain overall. In fact, the most encouraging thing I'm experiencing is that there is a noticeable change.

So many things that I've tried to manage my IBS have had absolutely no effect that I could determine. The same pains continued as they pleased and I had no sense of being able to control my body's responses. That lead to a sense of helpless frustration, along with the depressing certainty that no pain I had in my abdomen would ever be taken seriously now that I have this IBS diagnosis.

But adding more milk to my diet has changed things, and for the better. I'm not feeling completely pain free, but the pain is different and I feel an agency with that difference.

I'll be giving the milk experiment a few more weeks and then reassessing where I want to go from there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Welcome

When my husband comes off the trail, he comes off hungry. And when he is hungry, he is irritable.

I know this. And yet, knowing this, I could not support a business that hung a sign I found problematic. I'm a consumer, and I have a right to choose with my wallet. Even if that means my husband is cranky for several hours in the car while we drive to the next nearest town with services.

See, this particular establishment, in an Idaho town small enough that there aren't other dining options, found it necessary to hang on their outside wall a sign. It's a simple sign, with a background of an American flag and the phrase, "Deplorables Welcome!" emblazoned upon it.

We ate there once, and it wasn't bad. The service wasn't great, and they did try to give my food to someone else, but I don't think it was intentional. They were busier than they had staff for at the time. But I got to thinking after that.

In a county that went over 68% for Trump, this establishment, the sole establishment selling eat and drink in this unincorporated community, feels the need to call out the fact that "deplorables" aka Trump voters, aka mostly white republicans, are welcome.

Honestly, I can't think of a single place in the entire state of Idaho where a so-called deplorable would be unwelcome. Idaho is a majority republican state and a majority white state. Perhaps these deplorables would feel uncomfortable in a gay bar in Boise. But they wouldn't necessarily be unwelcome by the establishment itself.

Why the call out, here, of all places? I mean, aren't these the kind of people that like to respond to the "Black Lives Matter" movement with "All Lives Matter? And if all lives matter, then why not a sign reading, "Everyone Welcome!"? Are there so many radical leftists controlling this community that the downtrodden deplorables need a "safe space"?

Of course! As someone who completely supports safe spaces for those who feel they need them, it seems that I have no choice but not to support this establishment with my dollars, because I would be disturbing their safe space. Sure, my husband was hungry and cranky, but some people need their safe spaces, especially deplorables in Idaho.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


On trails, and waking paths, I will, on occasion, come across dogs and their owners. Most often, especially when said dogs are not on leashes, the owners will hasten to assure me that their dog is friendly.

I usually stand still and stiff, hunching away from the curious sniffing and snuffling of said friendly dogs. I don't reach out to pet. I don't try to run away only because I don't want to incite the friendly dog to a friendly game of chase.

Sometimes I consider replying to these dog owners that I'm not friendly.

But that would be a lie.

The truth is, I'd love to pet their friendly dogs.

I'd love to give them a hug and snuggle. play a quick game of fetch if they are so inclined. It doesn't look like it from my posture, but I really do like dogs.

The problem is that I'm allergic to dogs. I can touch them, but it comes with a price. I might break out in hives or have an asthma attack.

So I honestly don't care how friendly your off leash dog is. I don't want your dog to touch me, period. Maybe next time I'll just say that. And see how that goes.

But I really wish I didn't have to.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IBS Flare

Warning. Frank discussion of IBS symptoms and bowel movements ahead.

I didn't poop for five days around the start of my backpacking trip in the Frank Church Wilderness. The two days before and the first three days, basically, no poop. Then I had some movements, but they were all pellets, so I was still constipated, technically. I thought it would clear up once I got home and started drinking a whole lot, but the trend continued and when I ate, I felt like the food was sticking around in my throat instead of going down. So I'm going back to the liquid breakfast experiment, since that seems to help when the IBS flares up.

I started a few weeks ago, and, well, at least I have a little less pain in the mornings. But it still hurts a lot. During the day. At night it's especially bad when I first lie down. I try to quiet my mind for sleep and all of my awareness is drawn to the burning in my abdomen, highlighted by irregular stabs of additional pain mostly in the same area, but also in my head.

Although it could be something else, I've also been getting a lot of moodiness since switching to liquid breakfast. The whole idea makes me feel like a sick person, an invalid. Really gets my "woe-is-me" juices flowing, even though I'm not really sick. I think. I mean. Am I? Is IBS a sickness or a chronic condition? Is someone with a chronic condition not sick?

Anywho. Ambrose wants me to see the doctor again. I'm skeptical, because I've already got a diagnosis and they've said there's nothing they can do. Pretty much, if I'm in pain because of IBS, then I'm not "managing" my condition. Basically, I'm screwed. There's pain and oh yes the doctors believe it is real, but there's nothing they can do.

And even if there is something else wrong, I feel like having the diagnosis of IBS screws me even more, because I don't believe any doctors will try to find something else wrong when my symptoms mostly fit with IBS. But I'm not sure they really do. Because I've been obsessively tracking my symptoms and I'm not getting relief after a movement. Relief just isn't frequent.

I'm supposed to managed my symptoms. That's the treatment plan. Figure it out. Well. Figuring it out is hard. But I'm working on it. I started cutting back on coffee in addition to the liquid breakfasts. Which gives me caffeine headaches, but I'm not going cold turkey this time, so it isn't quite as bad. When the headaches get too much I just drink a bit of caffeine in non-coffee form to get through.

Every change takes time to evaluate, so I'm going to be doing a lot of wait-and-see and hope-and-wish.