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I have really been struggling with GI issues in the last month and am looking for help while I go through the medical process here in Canada. Here is my story. Sorry if it is long and detailed. I highlighted the parts where I feel there was a big turning point and my main concerns.
I'm a 43 year old male living in Canada and a year ago I was pretty fit, lighting weights and eating somewhat healthy. I was considered healthy by my doctors and I felt good. In late June 2017 I woke with very bad upper abdominal pain. I had fever, vomitting and nausea. Even a few specks of blood in my vomit. I went to emergency and they did some blood work, x-ray and an ultrasound but didn't finy anything wrong. They sent me home with 2 weeks of pantoprazole. In about 24 hours I was on my feet again and mostly better but I was burping a lot. Like anytime after drinking water.
A couple of months later I noticed that I was getting small but concerning stomach aches (dull feeling) and still burping. I went to my doctor and he said it was likely acid reflux caused by something and to go on PPIs (40mg pantoprazole) for 6 months to see how it goes. He also tested me to for H. Pylori which came back negative
3 months after of trying to live my normal routing (a bit less eating and working out and reducing things like dairy) I had another pain attack. Not as severe as the first one but noticeable. I went back to my doctor and he suggested I get another ultrasound and tested for lactose and gluten intolerance. I came back with a diagnosis of lactose intolerance but was not celiac and ultrasound was fine.
A month and a half later I had another attack (likely from overeating since it was around the holidays) and went to the hospital. This one passed after about 16 hours. The doctor there told me to double my PPIs for 2 weeks and take restoralax (laxative that draws water to your bowels) for a month. I felt better for awhile. A month and a half later I finished my course of PPIs. I was feeling good and wanted to come off it.
He said I could try and didn't think I needed to ween off the PPIs. The first 2 weeks went good. I was still avoiding dairy (occasionaly lactose free cheese and milk or a try with something with lactase pills) but I was eating more whole grains. And also my weakness, dark chocolate. A lot of burping came back so I went back to the doctor. We had me try 2 weeks on dexilant 60mg. I felt good for those 2 weeks but I also cleaned up my diet.
I tried without PPIs after that and was doing OK till I went on a vacation to NY. There I ended up eating more carbs (I was trying to avoid gluten in case I had non-celiac gluten sensitivity) and dabbled with a bit of pizza and ice cream. By the 3rd day I was getting burps again. My doctor prescribed me some dexilant (generic this time) and told me to take it if I had any problems. I took it for 2 days and stuck to a pretty simple diet of chicken, rice, salad and fruit for most of the rest of the trip. On the way back I started getting little bubbling type pains in my gut. Often lower left but sometimes in other areas.
When I returned I noticed that ginger helped so I was regularly consuming ginger anytime the pains popped up. I was feeling pretty good and tried going to the gym a little more. On one trip I tried doing some light bench presses and felt a uncomfortable feeling of gurgling just before my chest. I then stopped everything. For the next week I felt a little uneasy in the abdomen and went back to my doctor. He put me back on the dexilant (generic 60mg) and said all the problems were because I stopped the meds. He also send me for tests for kidney function which came back ok.
**A few days later (about 3-4 weeks ago) I had another pain attack. This one was not as severe but lasted several days.** Since then I have been on a rollercoaster of mostly downwards health. I have tried really cleaning up my diet which I am not sure helps. I am mostly on bananas, chicken, spinach, coconut yogurt, berries and carrots. Symptoms in order that they started to appear/worsen have been:
- light pains popping up randomly in my lower abdominal
- discomfort in my lower abdominals when sitting.
- a feeling of acid reflux shortly after cutting out most carbs. (Also seemingly after crossing my arms across my chest one day)
- light upper abdominal pains that appear rapidly for short periods. Anywhere from both sides under the ribs to middle of chest or slightly lower.
- occasional light headedness. Usually goes away shorty after eating.
- Going from discomfort when lying on my back or right (could only sleep on my left for months) to pain when leaning back. This lasted for a few days. It has subsided a lot after avoiding drinking fluids 2 hours before bed and sleeping elevated with a wedge.
- a light cough and globus feeling. (after I switched back from dexilant to pantoprazole.
- lower energy and depression
- this morning I woke up with a bitter taste in my mouth. (note I just tried reducing my PPIs to once a day the day before)
In the last month I have tried:
- being much more strict with my diet though I am still experimenting with what may trigger things.
- sleeping elevated
- After significant chest pain a week ago when accidentally rolling onto my back in the morning I went to emergency. They checked my heart and lungs (blood and xray) and said it was OK. The doctor then switched me to pantoprazole twice a day.
- adding things like throat coat tea and vitamin B12.
- I also just had a CT and am waiting to discuss results with my doctor next week.
- reducing my pantoprazole to once a day.
What I currently feel:
- minor lump in my throat and light cough. Seems to get much worse later in the day. Not sure if it coincides with when I take my pantoprazole. I am taking it right before dinner so I still have some acid reduction during night tine.
- a slight burning feeling in my stomach every so often during the day. It doesn't seem to go high up enough to feel like heart burn or burn my throat.
- slight lower abdominal pains and the burning pains in my stomach when doing something like riding a stationary bike for awhile.
-** low energy. Even though I don't have very bad pains I feel low energy, can't be happy and feel anti-social. I feel like this is because my lifestyle suddenly came to a dead stop a month ago and I don't know if I can ever go back to it, even in a smaller capacity. Everytime a little pain in my abdomen pops up it completely ruins my mood. With all the pains and issues I had since last June, it hardly affected my mood until the several day pain episode that happened a few weeks ago.**
I am looking for any advice that may nudge me in the right direction as I haven't been able to get much direction from doctors yet. I have not been able to get referred to a GI doctor yet.
I feel like i may have:
- hiatal hernia (from weightlifting) but my doctor seems to constantly think it is a low possibility and never tests for it
- SIBO, H. Pylori and/or gastritis from PPIs messing with my digestive system
- Some kind of vitamin, nutrient deficiency from the reduced diet.
Thanks for any advice you may have.
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