Well, dear friends, I did it. Yesterday, I saw a Nurse Practitioner to discuss my recent GI troubles.

Because you all scared me enough to finally do it.

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I explained everything to her. The changes in stools, the bloating, the cramping, the fears that I had about long term damage (I have just enough knowledge about the large intestine to be terrified by what had been happening to me), and she began her exam.

“Deep breaths now, Rachel,” she said as she held a stethoscope to my back.

That was when I realized just how nervous I was. I tried to breathe deeply, only to find the air wouldn’t fill me. I couldn’t push it down into my stomach, couldn’t quite fill my lungs. She was very quiet. Very gentle.

“Are you nervous?”

I tried to laugh, but I nodded. “I’ve watched my husband struggle with Ulcerative Colitis for ten years now. It’s so awful. I’m going to be so pissed if I’m the one who ends up having to use a colostomy bag!”

It was supposed to be funny. But suddenly, sitting naked in that oversized gown on a sheet of paper, it didn’t feel funny at all.

She had me lay down, and she listened to my gut. Immediately, she brightened. “I can tell you right now, with quite a bit of certainty, that you do not have any obstructions or obvious growths in your colon. I can hear all of your gut noises, and they sound great. There’s clearly nothing blocking your system.”

I felt the relief immediately. No obvious signs of cancer. That was one major worry immediately taken off my list. Then, she began pressing on my belly.

“Oooh! Ow!” I physically winced as she pushed just underneath my right rib.

She stopped. “That was tender?”

“Yeah, really tender. What was that?”

“Your stomach,” she thought for awhile. “Here, let me know if any of this hurts.” She began pushing and kneading my left side. My colon made a funny groan from the pressure, and we both chuckled, but there was no pain.

“Anything?”

“Nope. Nothing.”

She helped me sit back up. “Well, here’s what I think,” she looked straight at me and smiled. “You’re very healthy. I want to send you to the lab and get some bloodwork done. I do want to check for anemia, since you’ve been so tired, and I’ll run a bunch of other tests–thyroid, liver, kidneys, inflammation levels–just to be sure. But if I had to guess right now, you know what I think it is?” She looked almost excited at the prospect. “You caught a bug. Perhaps salmonella.”

Salmonella?

She nodded. “If it was diverticulitis, you would have a fever and pain on your side. If it was e. coli, you’d probably be vomiting too. I’m actually very interested to see what your bloodwork reveals, because right now salmonella is my best guess. I’ll call in a prescription for an antibiotic for you. If your bloodwork shows that it’s not a bug, then at least it won’t do you any harm, but if it does, you’ll feel better almost right away.”

I could have cried. I almost did cry. “And running? When do you think I could run again?”

She grinned, “Finish out the ten day cycle of antibiotics, just to see how you respond to them. Then, I’d say you can start right back up!”

Suddenly, I could breathe again. I (very likely) had a bug. It was treatable. I could run again. I wouldn’t feel this way forever. This wasn’t a new normal I had to learn how to adapt to. I was okay. I was going to run that race in November after all!

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I’m still waiting to hear back about my lab tests. But I just took my first day’s antibiotics. I’m taking deep breaths, trying to let my body recover, resting it and feeding it well, and just hoping. Just waiting. Just happy that soon–very, very soon–I could lace up my shoes, take a deep breath,

And run.

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