Oh, My Stomach… #socs

Throughout my adult life, and maybe as far back as in my late teens, my stomach has given me trouble. It runs in the family: Dad had ulcers, and his mother (Grandma Holton) had such trouble that they took out 60% of her stomach.

When I was a junior in college, I started having some digestive issues, and Mom set up an appointment for me with the doctor. He asked a few questions, did some external investigating (listening to my stomach and other stuff down there through a stethoscope), then sent me for an upper and a lower GI series. Both were pretty awful: I had to drink a drink made with barium so they could x-ray it going down and through my digestive tract, and the guy developing the films (who was nicknamed Space Angel, to give you an idea) kept screwing them up, so I had to drink the barium three times before he got it right. (I probably would have had to drink more if I hadn’t told the technicians that were taking the x-rays that if I had to drink the stuff one more time, I was going to make him come in and drink with me.)

That was the upper GI; I won’t talk about the lower GI other than to say "barium enema"…

A few nights later, I got a call from my mother. "John, your tests have come back, and you have a duodenal ulcer."

"Okay…" She could have said I had fireballs of the Eucharist and it would have made as much sense.

"A duodenal ulcer comes from stress. Now, WHAT’S GIVING YOU STRESS?"

I was taken aback. "Nothing, Mom…"

"Well, there must be something. WHAT IS IT?"

At this point in the conversation, I could have said "this line of questioning," and I was sorely tempted to blame the whole thing on my first two years of college, spent at a school she insisted on, but eventually I was able to convince her that there was nothing I could think of that would cause it.

Anyway, she told me to call the doctor, which I did the next day. I had to quit smoking and stop drinking regular coffee and alcohol, restrict myself to a bland diet, take a 2 mg Valium before eating and an ounce of Mylanta after, and "try to avoid stressful situations."

I got over the ulcer just fine within about three months and started up all my bad habits again, and the stomach distress stayed away until after I graduated and started working full-time.

Linda Hill brings us Stream of Consciousness Saturday over most of these same stations. Now a word about Carling Black Label Beer. Mabel, Black Label!

29 thoughts on “Oh, My Stomach… #socs

  1. I like your line about the conversation with mom being stressful. As a mom, I work hard to do that to my kids when they’re sick… glad you’re better now, and that you’ve found the concoctions that work best for your health. Cheers to a great take on the prompt!


  2. Nice post about a body part. Interesting and humorous. I had stomach problems starting as a kid. I had to drink that barium. Glad I never had the barium enema but a colonoscopy prep can be awful. Whoever invented ‘go-lightly’ should be…have something bad happen to them. Now there are other preps that are better preps.


  3. I had a duodenal ulcer once which I totally blame on my ex husband. Medical tests are horrible, especially when we are younger. In the last couple of years I have given up caffeine and alcohol. But sometimes, I’m not gonna lie – I still get tempted!


    1. Inflammation is the source of most ailments, and stress is a huge contributor to it. And the thing is, you sometimes don’t feel the inflammation until it’s too late, because you don’t realize how much stress you’re under. Before my stroke, I had enough blood pressure for two people, and I barely noticed it…

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  4. Hi John – we don’t realise that by stressing ourselves out don’t help us at all … glad you realised what was happening – though as we humans tend to do … always revert to our bad ways. Cheers Hilary


    1. I think most people who are under pressure (which would be just about everyone over the age of 18) feel it someplace and the stomach might be the most popular, because the stomach is full of hydrochloric acid. And the funny thing is, sometimes the best solution is to add more acid. No idea how or why that works…


    1. Remember the old Peanuts cartoons with Lucy dispensing psychiatric advice for a nickel? There was one cartoon where Charlie Brown is pouring his heart out to her, and she just said “learn to relax. Five cents, please.” If it were that easy, we’d never need them…

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  5. Over the years, my digestive system has gotten better at letting me know when I’m overly stressed. But at least we don’t have fireballs of the Eucharist !

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    1. There are times that I think a beer (or a cup of coffee) and a cigarette would solve all my problems. Really, a can of Bud and a Lucky Strike would do it. Then I realize that comes with its own set of problems. Maybe that’s why I’ve been dreaming about smokinng and drinking lately…

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  6. Ouch! Stress is the worst and can cause all sorts of physical ailments. Managing it is easier said than done for me at least. A shame that bad habits can’t be the cure instead of a contributor …


    1. Stress is psychological, inflammation is physical. Stress begets inflammation, and vice versa. And it’s hard to teach yourself to relax. Meditation might be the answer….

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