So, my new gastro person decided that we should do one more test, just to make sure that my issue was not being caused by something, even though I didn’t fit the typical profile for that condition. I did the test last Tuesday, and on Wednesday, I got a call from the gastro office telling me that I needed to schedule a follow-up appointment.

I was expecting, after all these tests with non-abnormal results, another call with a message about how the results were fine. The call for an appointment kind of freaked me out. And the appointment I scheduled wasn’t until April 12, so I had no idea what was going on with the test, but I wasn’t reassured.

Technically, though, I would have access to my imaging results through an online service in a week, so I wasn’t all that freaked out. I had patience enough to wait a week to know the results.

And then, on Saturday, I got a letter in the mail from the gastro office. I thought it would be a bill, so I wasn’t very excited to open it. Instead, I unpacked groceries first, and put everything away, and then I got around to reading what turned out to be a very short letter from the physician’s assistant I had been seeing.

Turns out, I have mild delayed gastric emptying, a diagnosis that not only explains the nausea and abdominal pain, but that also explains why I’ve been getting worse. (Delayed gastric emptying means that food doesn’t leave my stomach at a normal rate; my stomach is slow to empty.) Because it turns out that for IBS, they recommend increasing fiber and avoiding high “fodmap” foods. But when there’s delayed gastric emptying, the diet plan is low fiber to reduce what my stomach needs to process.

My diagnosis of IBS was making things worse, and it took me two and a half years to get the test that showed what the actual problem is. This test was not complicated or difficult. It did involve not eating or drinking for long stretches of time, not the most comfortable, but not anywhere near as uncomfortable as colonoscopy prep. I have to ask myself why this test didn’t come sooner, but I have a feeling it’s because I’m not underweight, and gastroenterologists in general don’t believe that delayed gastric emptying can happen without malnutrition. 

I’m still taking the antibiotics I was prescribed by the PA for possible small intestinal bacterial overflow; this is a condition that can happen with both IBS and delayed gastric emptying. I’m not feeling very well on the antibiotics, but I’m committed to finishing the course. Even though my husband is getting frustrated because I’m not eating very much. And I’m frustrated because my stomach hurts.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and a plan of action to deal with what my actual problem is.

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