"How's it feeling?" My surgeon asked, examining my belly button.
"Good, but I haven't gone to the bathroom yet. Is that okay?" I asked nervously.
I had just had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (a medical term for sucking my gallbladder out of my belly button without cutting me open). It had been a week, and I still hadn't had a bowel movement. My doctor told me this was normal after any surgery and that I should start taking a laxative in the morning, along with two stool softeners, to help me move things along.
This wasn't my first time dealing with weird intestinal issues.
The months leading up to that were filled with vomit and nausea, as I was barely able to keep any food down. I thought it was because of my diet, which mainly consisted of fast food and junk food. But as time went on and I cut out the fast food, I was still sick.
After about a month, I finally went in to see a doctor, which led to never-ending tests—endoscopy, blood work, hydrascan, x-ray, and multiple ultrasounds—all of which came back normal.
Finally, after dropping tons of diet changes that led to me dropping 30 pounds in two and a half months, my doctor decided the problem was my gallbladder. I scheduled the surgery to have it removed.
Meanwhile, I was still nauseous, tired, and hungry. But I figured everything would get better after the surgery. I thought I would be able to eat and gain the weight back after my gallbladder was removed.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. Instead, my new gallbladder-free body developed an entirely different problem.
Instead of vomiting every time I eat (like before my surgery), I am now on a vicious cycle of constipation and diarrhea. I can go up to two and half weeks without having a bowel movement, which then is followed by a few days of diarrhea. I know—it's a blast.
I also have a major issue with my clothes fitting. When I'm not able to go to the bathroom, I fluctuate between 118 and 124 pounds, and after I am able to go, I drop down between 106 and 110 pounds. That means I can be 12 pounds lighter tomorrow than I am today, and 12 pounds heavier a week after that.
Aside from being physically frustrating, it makes a huge difference in how my clothes fit. This is because all of my weight sits in my stomach, which is the only thing that gets bigger. My stomach is visually larger, and it swells like a balloon so anyone can tell when I'm constipated.
Dresses are impossible; there is no in-between. They're either way too loose or I can barely breathe.
I told myself I would just deal with it for the time being and hope it would fix itself, but that all changed after a vacation I took at the end of 2014.
While out of town, I decided to go shopping. It had already been about a week since my last bowel movement, and I'm never able to go when I'm out of town, so I was definitely leaning more towards the higher end of my weight fluctuation.
I went shopping, bought a bunch of clothes that fit well, and when I got home a few days later, my constipation ended and I was able to go to the bathroom. The pair of pants that I had just bought were now too big.
Reluctantly, I returned to the doctor.
Acknowledging that this wasn't normal, he decided to run more tests, but again, everything came back normal.
He gave me tips to follow, like keeping track of what I eat and seeing what causes the changes in my bowel movements, taking laxatives on a regular basis, eating more fiber and adding more water to my diet. Nothing worked. There wasn't any pattern connecting my diet to my bowel habits, and the only thing that helped me go to the bathroom when I was constipated was drinking Magnesium Citrate. But after disclosing to my doctor that I was now drinking this every day to help me go, he told me to stop.
Tired of dealing with tests and doctors, I decided to just learn to deal with my issues. I was tired of playing the guessing game.
I go when I need to; I don't go when I can't. I know that when I'm having constant diarrhea I need to drink extra water, get more rest, and relax more.
I've also solved my issues with clothes: I now buy two different sizes. Half of my closet is filled with clothes for my smaller days and half my closet is filled with clothes for days I can't go to the bathroom.
It's not the easiest thing to do. I get aggravated because sometimes I want to wear something but I'm constipated and can't squeeze into it. But I'm done with tests and doctors—after a year with no results, I just can't do it anymore. I'll stick to my two sizes and hope for the best.
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