September 5, 2023

Where's Waldo: the GI doc version. Plus: Tuesday Tank, Gus Gus, & High dive


Medically speaking:  I called the GI office back a few weeks ago. They had me zoom with a nurse practitioner. Still no sign of the doc. They said she was coming back in the fall. "She's had a service interruption." Oh? Really. I could've told you that. 

The next time I called, I was told all of the docs in the department are leaving to go into private practice. My SIL, Aunt Leprechaun, told me that managed health care is in shambles. My GP agreed, using almost those exact same words. 

This nurse ordered a x-ray. An x-ray???

Me:  I've had ultrasounds, colonoscopies, endoscopies, and MRIs. What will an x-ray prove?

Nurse:  It'll rule out constipation. 

No one is hearing me. That is NOT the issue. It's like a bunch of nerves are twisted around one stretch of my intestines and my insides complain whenever ANYTHING passes through that spot. So, I'm done with this doctor-less place. I quit. When I spoke with my GP, we picked, somewhat randomly, another GI. I will see her in late October. I'm also on a waiting list.  

In the meantime, I decided to decrease this silly Miralax regiment by half. I now only take it in the morning and I've already slept so much better. Let me tell you, Miralax twice a day is not sustainable. My body wasn't getting a chance to be nourished. *edited to add:  false news. After I wrote this, I had 2 lousy nights of sleep. 

Aunt Leprechaun texted me that she has a patient with celiac who continued to have symptoms, like diarrhea and bloating, for 3 or 4 years. Finally her GI had her start an SSRI. An antidepressant. What now? I'm told there are a lot of serotonin receptors in the gut and they are overactivated when celiac is present. I've discussed this option with my GP and she is on board with having me try that. I'm gonna hold off on trying a medication until after I meet this new (my 4th) GI. *edited to add:  I called my GP after my rough patch last week and asked her to call in the SSRI. I haven't picked it up yet. I'm skeptical, in part because diarrhea isn't  but I did have a hard time swallowing before I was diagnosed with celiac and guess what I've noticed recently - difficulty swallowing. Hmm. So maybe my symptoms are


Tank told us a story last year. His Creighton professor, who was one of his favorites - maybe economics (?), told the class that he was going to cancel class on Tuesday because it was his anniversary.



From that day forth, Economics professor called Tank:  TUESDAY TANK.

Fast forward to this school year. Tank is in management class. He really likes the professor. During one of the first classes, Tank raised his hand to ask a question. He introduced himself as Tank Shenanigan.


Tank had several buddies in the class and they roared laughing. 

Should I order t-shirts that say I'M FRIENDS WITH TUESDAY TANK and distribute them to Tank's friends for his birthday?


I'm somewhat lost with Mini and her fashion sense. This is a heck of a lot funnier if you know Mini, because then you understand that she is not exactly a fashion guru (um, her suggesting I wear workout shoes with my dress in my last post will serve as exhibit A). She's a messy bun, sweat pants type. She DOES dress nice when she goes out, but I'm quite sure she gets tips from her college friends. 

compliments of Disney Wiki- fandom.
Gus Gus is on the right.
Just before she left for school, I wasn't thrilled that the t-shirt I bought for $8 was on the short side. I pointed out to her that if I wasn't careful, my muffin top would be exposed. 

Mini:  OH, GUS GUS. 

My daughter was referring to me as the Disney mouse in Cinderella. You know, the one whose shirt doesn't quite fit him. 

Can you believe an SSRI might be the answer for my gut issues? Did you have a teacher or professor who poked fun of you in good fun (or maybe embarrassed you for calling you out for something)? Did you know who Gus Gus was without me 'splaining? Do you jump off high dives?


mbmom11 said...

If your readers are parents, or were kids themselves once, I bet they got Gus gus. Disney is so pervasive in our society now, for better or worse. Also, when I was young, the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights would have the occasional cartoon, and I bet most kids watched it.
Tank is a hoot.

Nicole said...

This GI thing is turning into such a nightmare for you. I really feel for you, Ernie, it seems like you should have had an answer by now. That clinic sounds awful and they obviously don't have patient care as a priority. I hope you get in sooner than late October, and you can get some answers in order to move forward.

Ally Bean said...

I didn't know those Disney mice in Cinderella had names. Probably not the point of this post, but I now wonder how many other Disney characters have names that I don't know.

As for your GI thing, I'm sorry. No advice per se, just sending good vibes your way as you endure.

Nance said...

I'm with Ally--I had no idea that those mice actually had names.

Your cavalier treatment (or lack thereof) by this doctors' office is reprehensible. It's too bad you aren't in Ohio and have access to the Cleveland Clinic health network. Seriously.

I'm really hoping you get some help soon. This whole thing cannot be helping the quality of your life.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that an SSRI will help. One did help me a long time ago when I was having some weird never-pinpointed GI issues. It wasn't celiac or any of the things they looked for. They never did figure out what it was. Since it was dealt with, I didn't need a label.

That said, my issues don't sound at all like yours. I basically had daily extreme, immobilizing GI pain for several hours a day, accompanied by constant burping. A low-dose SSRI--a dose that would have been subtherapeutic for depression-- ended up getting my entire system calmed down. It didn't get fully calmed down right away, but it was a marked difference from the start. I took it for a few years, then stopped and I've never needed it since. I maybe have a single-afternoon/evening flare of the GI pain 3-4 non-consecutive days/year, which I deal with by taking Tylenol, drinking homemade ginger tea, and resting. It's not fun when it flares, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was. It's a nuisance, not a crisis.

Ernie said...

mbmom11 - Tank is a hoot. We go see him for parents' weekend the 15th and I am looking forward to it.

Oh, I remember watching Disney on Sunday nights. Those were fun evenings. Ah, simpler days.

Ernie said...

Nicole - It is irritating. I do really count myself as fortunate, because I am mostly fine. Honestly. I know there are people with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses. Still, it does feel exhausting at times because I feel like my issue should have been resolved by now.

The hospital I was going to is a major, teaching hospital in Chicago. It makes zero sense that the GI dept has struggled to manage my care. Mind blowing.

I'm so grateful for my GP. She is invested in my well being and is very repsonsive. At this point, she feels more like a friend than a doctor. I am grateful to have her, because otherwise I think I'd feel like I was losing my mind.

Ernie said...

Ally - I'm wondering if we learned the mice names when the kids used to watch a sing a long video that they loved. This also reminds me that there are characters on Sesame Street with actual names. The blond puppet little girl's name was Prairie Dawn. I had a blond friend in high school and when she admitted to knowing obscure Sesame character's names, we started calling her Prairie Dawn.

Thanks. I'm sure there is an answer and most of the time I feel fine. It is irritating, but I'm grateful that life is not impossible with this thing. Still, there is some real frustration in not knowing what the deal is, or what I can do to make life a bit more predicatble. I hope the next doctor has some insight.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - This is interesting. I'm glad it worked for you. I haven't picked up the SSRI yet, but I'm leaning towards trying it because by the time I see the doctor maybe I'll have one more thing to say THIS WORKED, or THIS DIDN'T HELP.

Ernie said...

Nance - It's funny to realize that the mice had names. I wonder where we figured that out. Maybe it was in the book version of the moive. I bought the storybooks that coordinated with the movies at a garage sale decades ago and we read them till they fell apart. Or perhaps the names were in the sing a long videos the kids used to wtch.

I wish I lived closer to that clinic as well. This is Chicago and there are several teaching hosptials with outstanding reputations. My experience was at Loyola, which has a great rep. Why the disconnect? No idea. Fingers crossed this next lady figures it out.

During the day, I might feel some discomfort in that specific area, but it isn't enough to derail me. Thank goodness. When I'm sleeping though -it wakes me up and there is no more sleep until whatever it is moves past that particular spot - which is just below my rib cage, so the dang 'try a squatty potty' was not helpful. I feel like it should be solvable. Why the cluelessness?

Jenny in WV said...

Good for you on going off the high dive! I'm very risk adverse (aka a total wimp), there is now way I could be convinced to try it!

I haven't seen Cinderella in 30+ years, I didn't recall that the mice had names.

The whole doctor situation sounds like a mess! I hope you new doc is a big improvement!

Kate said...

Newsweek ranked UChicago Medicine as one of top 50 best hospitals in the world for gastroenterology care.

Bijoux said...

There is so much connection between the brain and the gut that it wouldn't surprise me if an SSRI worked for some people. My Middle Child (the one with autism, which is a dysfunction of the brain) has always had GI issues. I'm frustrated for you with the lack of doctors. I've just had my PCP leave and it was not easy to find a new (female) GP.

I've never heard of Gus Gus, but Disney movies bored me, so I always left the room! LOL! I've never jumped off a high dive, as I was never a very good swimmer.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I loved the high dive as a kid. Maybe the added weight that comes with being an adult makes it more frightening, because LET ME TELL YOU - I WAS FREAKING OUT.

Gus Gus was never someone I thought I'd be compared to.

I am hoping to find a doctor that can figure this crap out. I honestly love the doc I had at Loyola. She was amazing, but then she up and disappeared into thin air.

Ernie said...

Kate - Hmm. That doesn't surprise me. I go to that hospital to see my rheumatologist, who sees me only because of my pinkies. Why are my pinkies so swollen? I believe it is all linked to my celiac or SIBO issues or whatever. It's a never ending circle. Anyway, going down there is a full day trip. Not sure I'm up for that. I'm hoping that this local woman is decent.

Having said that - I might ask my SIL the doc if she knows a GI there that she would recommend, because I do have Fridays off and I am fairly desperate to get answers. Thanks for the suggestion.

Ernie said...

Bioux - I'm hearing that more and more. That there's a connection between the brain and the gut. Interesting. You wouldn't believe how many times I had a doc tell me I had IBS. Really? That's just a catch all, in my opinion. I mean I did test positive for SIBO and my last doctor never even suggested I get tested for it. It is really frustrating, but now that I'm fed up (and sleep deprived), I'm determined to get answers.

I rarely stayed in the room when my kids watched Disney movies, opting to get things done. Even though the mouse has a name, I was surprised Mini remembered it.

I was not loving my end of the bargain in the high dive jump, but I'll be glad I did it if I get desired results.

Pat Birnie said...

Oh Ernie, I'm sorry this GI issues is dragging on so long. That dr's office sounds useless -- an xray?? really? I'm not sure if I mentioned this previously in a comment, but my sister has celiac disease. She continued to have issues even after she eliminated gluten. She is by nature obsessive compulsive, but it turned out she had to go further. She uses her own toaster, cutting board, peanut butter etc. Anything that doesn't go in the dishwasher is hers exclusively. It did help her. Hoping you get an answer soon!

Ernie said...

Pat - Yeah, this thing is pesky, but I'm really and truly FINE most of the time. When I'm not fine, I'm just uncomfortable. I can handle that when I'm awake but when my pipes prefer to be empty while I'm sleeping and there's no rhyme or reason to that it gets annoying. Deep down I don't think it has anything to do with celiac, because my bloodwork keeps coming back showing that I have zero gluten. I'm not getting ill or feeling sick. I don't eat peanut butter or bread, so I don't use a toaster. My cutting boards go in the dishwasher and I have one that is basically just mine. I think it's something else. It's weird, for sure.

Beth Cotell said...

I'm so sorry finding help and answers is taking so long. I have nothing to offer except prayers.

Also, I think the Tank tee shirt idea is hilarious and you should definitely do it!

Ernie said...

Beth - Just when I think I have a handle on the sleep, like OOPS, I ATE A NEW CEREAL THAT HAD TOO MUCH FIBER IN EACH SERVING, I have night like last night that makes no sense AT ALL. I woke up at 1 am and didn't get anymore sleep until like 6 am, and by then I don't exactly have time to get several hours. So frustrating.

The tee shirts would be funny. Maybe I can make them on the machine at the library and put a calendar graphic in the background. ;)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm DYING and I will never get over that being the funniest thing I've read on this Wednesday. EVER.

I'm sorry to say I didn't get the Gus Gus reference; maybe it's been too long for me? I mean, I loved Cinderella, but I don't remember all the characters names.

What the heck with the Doctors! I was happy for a minute that you were getting better sleep, then you took it from me, just like it was taken from you, but with worse side effects. :(

I've not heard about an antidepressant helping with gut issues, but you never know!! I hope something works for you my friend. XO

Ernie said...

Suz - Tuesday Tank is a funny story. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Before Mini went back to school, she ran a 'let's see if Curly gets it' test on Curly. Curly did NOT get it. Oh brother. Watch out future professors, we've got another trippy kid to send your way.

We won't talk about my sleep last night, if it'll upset you. I honestly fear that I'm losing my mind. Coach asked me today if I want to go to a sleep specialist. What now? I KNOW how to go to sleep and I often sleep fabulously. No clue what the issue is but it is realated to what goes on inside the pipes. I wasn't even feeling the pain. I had to consume a half a box of cereal and still HOURS of awake. Sad and silly. That's how I feel. And loopy, to be honest.

I thought I was all set to try the antidepressant but then my GP was like WELL COME SEE ME FIRST. Really? Another $80 copay. For something that probably won't work? Swell. The good days are so normal. Can't figure out the rhyme or reason. Unfortunately.

Bibliomama said...

Gus Gus gives me ptsd to grade school when some of Angus's friends started calling him that (I wasn't really upset, although when a few relatives tried calling him Gus I shut that shit down right away, until university when literally everyone called him Beef).
I'm sorry you still don't have answers about your digestive issues, and the clusterfuck the medical system is. I would try the SSRI - there is supposed to be a so-called brain in the gut, and certain medications work really well for off-label use.

Ernie said...

Ali - It took a minute before I got the Gus connection to Angus' name. We have a nephew whose middle name is Augusts and they considered/tried to call him Gus when he was born, but fortunately it didn't stick and his first name won out.

I thought when I last spoke to my GP that she said I could just reach out if I wanted to try it, because we'd talked dosage and side effects, etc. I gave up the wait-and-see battle and called her office and said, YEAH, LET'S JUST GIVE IT A TRY BECAUSE I'M REALLY STRUGGLING and they were like NEED TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. What now? Super. Another $80/copay. I see her tomorrow and then will start as soon as she calls it in because yesterday was the worst day on record. I do wonder if I still have SIOB. My vanishing doc was supposed to recheck me for that, but then poof - she gone. So aggravating.

Anne said...

Ernie, I so wish we were neighbors. Because I could commiserate (one s, Anne, it's one s) for days on the GI stuff. My symptoms are similar but I am not (to my knowledge) celiac. The pain, distension, um, other lower GI symptoms that I prefer not to talk about in public... yeah. I tried this insanely expensive antibiotic to see if it would help (assumption was SIBO) but no.

BUT. There is absolutely a brain-gut connection, and yes, an antidepressant (usually a tricyclic, but sometimes an SSRI) can absolutely help. I hope you got to your GP and got the dang thing approved. It's worth a shot. I imagine it'll be a weenie dose, but hey... anything that can help at this point, right? Take care.