The Long Beginning- Part 2 Elisha

In 2011, I accepted a position with another company. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay focused during the training because of the brain fog and fatigue. By the third week, I started getting lower back pain and threw my back out again.  The next 11 months working for the company were full of new and consistent symptoms and few answers from doctors. Though this job carried a high level of stress too, I was to the point, where I knew that my problems were not solely related to stress. I went back to the doctor and informed her that I was still experiencing the original symptoms, and more to add to the list. They ran more blood tests and the only thing that came back abnormal was my bilirubin level, which is a liver enzyme. It was slightly elevated, but they said that it's common and ignored it. I went to my family doctor multiple times within a few months and usually left in tears because she either told me that "nothing is wrong with you" or another Dr. from her office asked me, "What do you want me to do?" (I quickly walked out of that appointment), as if I'm the one that should be recommending tests and exams. I later learned that this is exactly what I needed to do.
I began experiencing bloating after eating most meals. Now, I've always had a somewhat small frame and the bloating was so severe that it made me look like I was 6 mos. pregnant. That was the first physical symptom that Aaron could see. I kept track of my diet, however was unable to relate it back to a specific type of food. I went back to the doctor and had to basically demand that she send me to get x-rays and an ultrasound of my gallbladder because bloating and indigestion are common symptoms. The gallbladder results showed that I had two tiny polyps (a recent follow-up ultrasound could not locate any polyps). They sent me to get a HIDA scan, which is a test that typically evaluates how well the gallbladder is functioning. They injected a dye in my veins, which allowed them to visualize both my gallbladder and liver. They then injected CCK in a vein in my arm. CCK is the hormone that the body releases upon eating a meal, which then triggers the gallbladder to empty the bile to aid in digestion. Although I didn't have most of the typical gallbladder symptoms and the hormone caused no ill effects on me, as they had warned that I would experience, my gallbladder ‘failed’ the test. So, my doctor referred me to a surgeon to get it removed. 
Yes, you can live without a gallbladder.  In fact, both my mom and grandma had theirs taken out many years ago, due to gallstones, and both of them now suffer from IBS, among other issues from the surgery. I was not about to allow them to yank an organ out of my body so easily, especially when I'd never even had a gallbladder attack. 
So, in comes the GI doctor.  He was also not convinced that my gallbladder was causing me symptoms, especially because it did not appear inflamed. He also noted that the HIDA scan can be controversial, as there are many factors that can cause the results to be lower than desired, including hormonal and some diseases. He tested me for parasites, conducted a stool test for gluten/wheat allergies (which many believe is not the most accurate way to test for gluten intolerance), and ran a few liver panels. He disregard my elevated bilirubin level because the liver functioning panel appeared normal. He also suggested that I get a colonoscopy, so I did and that came back normal too, which was relieving because it eliminated a lot of scary diseases, and we were so thankful for, but we still did not have answers as to what was causing me symptoms.
I've always been intolerant to cold environment, and I'm often cold when others are not, but we'd always blame it on my size and 'small' bones.  I'd have episodes where both my hands and turned white and blue, and I'd experience numbness and tingling too. We researched the symptoms and learned that it was probably Reynaud’s phenomenon, which is associated with many diseases. The muscular pain and itching that I was experiencing in my legs occurred almost daily and I felt weak, tired, and restless.
One night in April, 2011, I awoke in the middle of the night dripping in sweat and had severe nausea. I’d just started my period earlier that evening. Within a few minutes, I got sharp and stabbing pain in the area of my bladder and reproductive organs. The pain was so severe that in one minute, I felt like I was going to vomit and the next minute, I thought I was going to have diarrhea. Since we weren't sure if I was having a medical emergency, Aaron called 911.  Once they got there, they determined that my blood pressure was very low. By the time that we got to the hospital, the pain was nearly gone, as well as the sweating and nausea. Of course, they ran a series of blood tests, and could only determine that my white blood cell count was quite high, but mentioned that was common in people who experienced sudden pain. Someone else noted that I could have had an ovarian cyst that ruptured.
As a result of the incident, I sought help from both a urologist and gynecologist. My bladder emptied properly and an ultrasound of my kidneys was completely normal. My gynecologist noted that I could have had an ovarian cyst, but it would have been too late to detect it in my blood tests. A transvaginal ultrasound showed that all of my 'female parts' were just fine. We have never solved the mystery of this pain, and I hope that I never experience it again because it was the worst of my life.
The next few months played a huge toll on us. Just 11 months after I started working for the 'new' company, my back gave out again and the doctors could not help me yet again. I had missed so much work because of my symptoms and my boss would often push me to come in early and leave late just to make up for the doctors’ appointments. So, it was a hard decision for us to make, but we decided that it was time to eliminate the 'stress' and focus on restoring my health.  I left the workforce.  After a few months, we were able to confirm that stress was NOT the cause of any my symptoms. We took a trip to Italy and I became very sick with swelling, nausea, vertigo, fatigue, constipation, bloating, etc. It was a vacation that we wished that we could forget, despite it being one of our favorite places on earth. I was fed up with western medicine and their doctors. I decided that I needed to try some homeopathic and herbal remedies.  Unfortunately, I had yet to figure out what illness I needed to treat. 


  1. Me again- you really have my sympathies. But yes, I too had figured out that I needed to recommend tests to be done. I'm still not over that. You'd think the doctors would... I've even correctly guessed that my sister celiac after pondering why she also had problems that doctors were seemingly useless to assist with. Now my family thinks I'm brilliant. What I think is that there is something wrong with our medical system somewhere.

  2. This is crazy! The middle of the night pain episode you write about is like listening to myself explain to my sister what happened to me a week ago. Had finished dinner and was talking to my husband whe all of a sudden this intense cramp/stabbing/something pain bent me over in pain. The only reason I even moved was to run to the bathroom because I was sure I was going to explode simultaneously with diarreah and throwing up. It left me dizzy and weak for a few hours.