I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Thursday January 15 2009. This is my journey with cancer and other musings as surveyed - initially temporarily hairless - from under my hats.
Since I last wrote.. sjoe, have been in total despair. The first pill I was prescribed worked 50% - bliss! I felt ok. Not perfect. But ok. It felt manageable. And the effect was instant. That is, woke up on day 2 of treatment and felt like a new person.
Then on the 10th and last day of taking the pills, phoned the doctor. Could I get another script? Want symptoms to go away 100%.
I was told to wait a few days. That was Wednesday. By Friday evening I started feeling shitty. By Tuesday when I phoned I was in hell.
He prescribed something else. It didn't work at all. Yesterday (Sunday) was the last day. Saturday I ended up throwing up in the driveway and had to leave my late shift at work early 'cos I felt so bad. Never done that before.
Phoned today. The doctor is away for a week. Made an appointment for a week's time. Also seeing his replacement at 2.30pm today.
Need a miracle. Hardly going out 'cos stomach is so bad. Well, going to work but I have forgotten what it is like to feel good. Those nine days when the meds kicked in were superb. But I didn't even feel my normal self.
Let's see what this gastroenterologist says....
When I went for the two tests today, I decided to do the lactulose one first, ie, the one that tests for small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Usually, it seems, they do the lactose intolerance one first but, as I know I have a pure lactose intolerance and throw up if I drink milk but can eat it in changed forms eg cheese and yoghurt, I decided to avoid coming back another day for the other test, to do it first. (Was told a positive result for one test meant you had to the other test on a different day.)
Of course I didn't have Sibo, or what I now know is small intestine bacterial overgrowth. That means you get thin, well at least lose weight consistently without trying, because your food is not absorbed and hell no, that is not me.
My base measure was 7. I was told their wasn't a normal but if I tested positive, it would rise to three times my fasting level. Essentially the test consists of fasting, then you blow into a tube which gives a measurement (reading on the internet it seems to be a hydrogen level) and then you drive lactulose - whatever that is - and then you blow every 15 minutes and write down the measurement.
At first I went down to 5. Then up to 9 and then later, sky high, eventually to 29.
The doctor didn't bother to complete the two hour test. I tested positive. And my stomach was cramping and I had severe, severe diarrhea and later, I even left work early as the diarrhea was too severe. And I don't want to take immodium but will later - it now almost 7pm - if it doesn't improve.
I was also rather intrigued and horrified by what the doctor prescribed but I see now from the Internet it is what is needed - it is Rifaximin - but for some reason it is not registered in South Africa, so the medical aid does not recognise it and you cannot claim for it, and although you must have a script for it as it is schedule 4, it can only be obtained from this compounding agency in Bryanston. So I went there - wasn't as far as it seemed - and got it.
Think the first two didn't work cos of my radical diarrhea but have just taken the next two and hopefully am ok now.
I think I am in a state of shock.
All I can do now is pray that the weeklong course of meds takes it away.
I am terrified. I do not want a major disease.
I want to take a week's leave. But wonder if I can, what with work being so precarious - new boss and all - and having been away for six weeks. But I do have leave owing and I do need a break. Lol. To digest it all, even if my body is not digesting very well.
Been living in a bloated world. Some days have been a little better than others, where the bloating is bad but restricted mainly to the tummy area. Other days are hell, where my tummy is like a balloon and the bloating starts from below my boobs.
Today has been a little better.
But spoke to the gastroenterologist the other day, and also confirmed it with the dietician, and am going for two tests tomorrow: lactose intolerance and the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (or something like that) tomorrow.
Got to be a Milpark Clinic at 7am and got to stop eating and drinking soon.
I am little apprehensive as cannot bear not being able to eat or drink and these tests may take hours - 4 and a half, I was told.
But none are invasive and if I do have small intestinal bacterial problems - which I doubt, as you get skinny cos food isn't absorbed although I suppose there are degrees to it, like all illnesses - the treatment is antibiotics.
After having had a radical hysterectomy now for nothing, am pretty averse to surgery.
Also a little anxious re the lactose test as I know I have a pure lactose intolerance - if I drink milk, I throw up, but have never had a problem when milk changes form, eg love cheese and yoghurt.... so not sure how they are going to work all that out.
Anyway.... I need to sort out this problem. And this is one way of trying.