The Nature of Stress
So I haven’t updated in a while. Some of you know why, others do not, but I have a potentially fascinating tale. It involves regurgitation so I suppose if you have vivid visualizations of what you read you might want to skip this post.
About two weeks ago I started getting nauseous. It started off simple enough, felt a bit like I had eaten too much. Everything I had had prior to this event had also been eaten by my wife and so I thought that food poisoning was unlikely. Each day it got a little worse until about day 3 when I found myself uncontrollably vomiting in the morning. First the food, then a bit of bile, and eventually it was just dry heaving.
As a kid I thought that nothing was worse than vomiting, the build up is terrible and the final event tended to be highly acidic (thanks to my childhood love of Soda and other sugary treats). But I have since been proven wrong, day after day I started the morning with intense dry heaves. My stomach would tense to the point where I thought I was going to tear something internally, it was the strongest and least pleasant torsion of my innards I’ve ever experienced. This is coming from someone who nearly snapped their neck once.
Day after day passed and I realized something, I had greatly passed the “after 48 hours consult your doctor” warning on the Pepto Bismal. I tried to get an actual doctor, but living in America you don’t have the ease of any other civilized country. I had to find one that would accept my insurance or I was going to get rammed so hard in the ass with charges that I’d be leaving the hospital potentially better physically but very unhappy fiscally.
Conversely what good is money if you are dead. With that in mind I found a local urgent care and got checked. They ran a battery of tests, I was stethoscope, given a very bitter “lemonade” drink, breathed into two separate bags that they tested, and had a couple vials of blood taken. The first doctor I had was new and my symptoms stumped her, they didn’t match anything but food poisoning which was unlikely.
The next doctor I met was an older man, probably 6’4’’ or so. He was one of those men you assume was a farmer in their early life, big hands and a very Heston-like demeanor. He sat back and asked me if I had ever had an incident of this kind of nausea before. I told him yes, near the end of my tenure in college. He was swishing a mystery liquid in a Styrofoam cup. With a grin he took one of those wooden sticks they place on your tongue and stirred it further.
“Did you drink in college?” He asked. I said no, his eyebrows lifted and he said surprised “Not even beer?” Now these questions were coming after I couldn’t even tell him what year I was in college, a week of minimal food intake had left me exhausted and dreary. It may have come across to him as drunk or signs of alcoholism.
He looked back and the drink and shrugged. “Well basically you are going to want to chug this, because if you don’t it is going to completely paralyze your mouth.” He handed me the drink and I did my best to chug it (which I now know I’m good at). He told me after “This will paralyze your stomach, if I’m right you have an ulcer. Basically your stomach is trying to scratch and itch and in doing so it is just making it worse, so we need to stop the scratch and then confirm the cause of the itch.”
After drinking my stomach was utterly numb, I couldn’t feel it at all. I realize that 99% of the day I cannot feel my stomach, but this was different, it was like there was negative space exactly where it should be. I also found myself belching like there was no tomorrow.
I later told him I was belching when he came back in (about 10 minutes later) and he told me that further supported his theory.
I was told I’d be contacted within 48 hours by the first doctor, as I was her patient it was her job to call me. She did call me, 8 days later. During this time I slowly got better, but what would come back from them was interesting.
The data didn’t support an ulcer, but they told me to get a family doctor and get further checkups. I also did not have a virus, nor any other disease. My kidneys and liver were functioning properly. What she did say was that it could have been stress.
I find myself in an odd place with that news. That the stress in my life, at 25, could put me in such a bind that I spend 7 days vomiting and barely able to recall past life events. Stress is a powerful thing, an alarming thing, I had at at least two points thought I might be dying. It is when you gather knowledge like this that you realize you should rethink your life and perhaps your career.
Every second in my personal life is quite pleasant, I have no real desire to change it greatly (minus a larger source of income). But if you are someone living a highly stressful life I would urge you to reconsider your path, had I not gone to a doctor by the time I did I could be much worse off and I suspect that this sort of thing does hell to your life expectancy.
As a final thought I am seriously considering taking up meditation. Though I think my writing serves as that for now. Writing something I lost for almost two weeks and will finally return to…or I suppose by posting this have already returned to.
Additionally Batman: Arkham City is a beautiful game that I’ve almost played through completely twice (working on Riddler as well). I’ll write a better review later but if you have any interest in Batman or quality game design this is a good title to catch.