Afternoon Inquisition

AI: All we can stomach

Last May, I had my stomach removed. Well, not all of it. There’s a small portion, smaller than a small egg, left. But the rest was taken away. Short story: I was supposed to just go in for a regular old gastric bypass but then they found a tumor and instead of bypassing the organ, my doctor removed it completely.

And now I live in this weird world where I had a surgery I wanted and am getting the results I wanted while having had the exact surgery for reasons I didn’t want to have surgery… and if I didn’t go to have the elective surgery I would have never known that I needed to have the surgery non-electively… and living with what that means. Like, I am working really hard to lose that weight because my health means so much to me now… but then I wonder if it’s worth it because who knows? And what if the other parts of my body that I hate are also trying to kill me, but I don’t know that because I’m not having surgery to fix those so no one’s looking at them? Maybe I have tiny tumors everywhere that no one knows are there, that will murder me before I ever run my first marathon anyway so why am I sobering up and getting off the couch to exercise? And why the fuck did I give up cupcakes and nachos and ninja tumors for muscle milk and waiting for secret tumors to just show up out of nowhere?  Then I remember that since I lost weight I can now buy all kinds of great clothes and if I do die, I can be buried in something from Modcloth and… well, that’s pretty much enough to get me through any day.

Today I was complaining on Twitter about how I don’t actually know anyone else who is rocking the stomach-free lifestyle, and on rough days, that just compounds my frustrations. But in the midst of my emo whining, people started asking me all kinds of questions about what it’s like to not have a stomach. What do I eat? How do I get nutrients? Can I still feel love?

So here’s a quick and dirty rundown to my life:

  • I live almost exclusively on protein. I try to add carbs where I can, but I experience a condition known as “dumping syndrome” which is both far worse and not nearly as bad as you think it is. The not-so-bad: It never involves me accidentally pooing on the floor in front of company. The bad: eating fats and carbs in X quantity (which can change day to day) cause my stomaquito (a new word I made up for a tiny stomach) to freak the fuck out and shoot all the food into my intestines. My intestines are all like “Oh HELL NO. Break that shit DOWN before you send it to me. Fuck this. I quit.” And riots begin inside my belly. What happens next is almost exactly like that thing where you go out to the bars until 5am, forgetting that you’re now 35 and not 21, and then you wake up at 8am and you’re still drunk and sick but your hangover is also kicking in. Except the most fun thing you get to regret is having snuck a single Oreo… but it only lasts like an hour.
  • I eat a billion times a day. 4 bites at a time.
  • I dehydrate really easily. I don’t even understand this. Someone should probably explain it to me because I don’t know why I use more water than other people. But I do. And if I don’t drink enough water, which is more water than the average person probably drinks (because I’m assuming most people get by just fine on like 4 glasses of water a day even if that’s less than supposedly recommended) I will probably pass out. And apparently martinis don’t count for hydration. Coffee, however, does. So… I guess there’s that. But it does for you, too. Which you probably didn’t know. So YOU’RE WELCOME.
  • I can’t eat anything fast or I will throw up.
  • I can’t eat solid foods until sometime around 11am or they get stuck in my esophagus.
  • I can get hungry but not really hungry. But I can get angry-hungry (hangry). But without that horrible feeling that my insides are eating themselves.
  • If I skip meals, I get sick.
  • If I go more than ~3 hours without eating solid food, it hurts tremendously to eat anything.
  • If I try to eat something carb-y, but very little so I don’t dump, it feels like knives are trying to break out of my belly.
  • I take vitamins. Because I cannot possibly get the nutrients I need from my diet. I take a multivitamin, calcium supplements, and sublingual b-complex. I don’t even know if this shit works, but my hair stopped falling out, so I guess it does.
  • I don’t drink carbonated beverages except on rare occasions and they need to be flattened and if I try to take a sip with food, I start vomiting tiny men with bayonets. (true fucking story.)
  • No, it’s not hard… I just read labels. I ask questions at restaurants. I go on with my life. The act of eating is sometimes hard, but living a life with food restrictions ain’t no thang for me.
  • Some days it’s frustrating and sad. And I want my life to be normal. Or at least normal for a weight loss surgery patient. Or normal for someone who had tumors removed.
  • One time, after the surgery, my esophagus completely closed up. I got to drink horrible liquid while my doctor watched on an x-ray. Then he drugged me and sent balloons down my throat and opened it back up. Yes. My life was saved by shoving balloons down my throat.
  • I’ve lost almost 100 lbs. I have ~25 left to go.
  • I’m healthy today. Like healthy enough to run a 15K race this weekend. It is chocolate themed. Because who doesn’t want to run 9.3 miles for irony?

So… there you have it. My life.

And now it’s your turn. Tell me something weird/cool/different about how you live your life every day. What are the things you do that no one you know does? What do people around you do that blows your mind? Is there anything you want to know about my surgery? Ask me anything. Tell me anything


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. At least part of the explanation for the dehydration is that food has a lot of water in it, most of the mass of any foodstuff is water. So if you’re eating less food, you have to balance out that lack of water with something, but your stomach isn’t big enough just to pound back litre bottles of water.

    1. Huge sympathies on your back pain, Rebecca. I share your pain. About the only thing that’s seemed to help me is doing lower back strengthening exercises on a Roman Chair.

    2. Rebecca, somehow I missed that you have chronic back pain, I do sympathise.
      Like many of us I was in the same boat many years ago. I was amazed how backward the medical profession is in treating same. Shit physiotherapy only served to worsen the problem, like about 10 fold.
      At last I went to a professor of rehabilitation medicine whose advice was to take up swimming or cycling – he said surgery would be a disaster and confirmed that physio is often worse than useless.
      In short after a year or so of cycling, problem basically fixed. For what it’s worth.

    3. I finally curbed my sciatica by getting several padded work mats and placing one in front of every sink in the house and the washer/dryer. I keep one more under the bed and pull it out when I’m folding clothes. I can finally make it through a full load without having to stop and stretch.

  2. I have an apparently undiagnosable disease. I’m in my 7th year of this and on my 5th different dx now, but this one is probably correct: fibromyalgia. Glad I was taking all those drugs for those diseases I didn’t have for all those years. In addition, I have ridiculous allergies (think fabric softener, perfume, shampoo, anything scented, plus cigarette smoke/residue, and many more), and am intolerant to many drugs. So what do I do that no one I know does? I experience pain everyday. I get sick from most of the drugs I try to take to help my symptoms. I cling to my inhaler in public and avoid crowds. I’ve been known to wear a charcoal-filter gas mask to movie theaters. I stay at home most of the time, hiding from the harsh world that my body is way too fragile to exist in.

  3. I still have my stomach but I do a lot of the same things you describe to manage my diabetes. I also use an insulin pump so I get to be a cyborg (unfortunately, it sounds way cooler than it is). Counting calories, carbs, reading labels and hoping for high protein/low carb snacks when I’m out and about – check check check and check. Worrying about my blood sugar levels every time I move because I swing from insulin sensitive to insulin insensitive most months? also check. Right now I am trying to get knocked up so I am extra double heavy duty panicked over every twinge and edible thing that passes my lips. It’s a helluva way to live. Kudos (the metaphorical kind) for doing what you need to do to keep yourself healthy. Does your doctor have any concerns about a previously undiagnosed stomach tumor, or are you on the lookout for a new doctor (and if neither of those are accurate, how IS that part of the story getting handled?)?

    1. I actually know two people with pumps. It’s what all the cool diabetics are doing these days.

      Right now, the status with the tumor is that the stomach one is gone forever and ever and we keep an eye on other things, scanning and probing and biopsying as necessary… maybe resulting in me living forever.

    1. No. I was supposed to run with the American Cancer Society’s Team DetermiNation, but they cancelled the team… then I got sidelined when I sprained my hip flexor while trying to see if there were any rapists behind me one night while I was running.

      So now I’m running the Dallas RnR half next month.

      1. That sucks about the sprain, have a friend who ended up with something similar, she run/walks now as a result. I don’t know much about the Dallas race as I haven’t done it, hopefully you have a blast, and hopefully you don’t give up on that full marathon dream!

  4. Elyse, when you were a little kid, you shouldn’t have eaten all those little green Army men. They stick around inside you forever, just like gum. (Actually, the crawling rifle snipers and grenade throwers aren’t so bad, but the bayonet guys and crouching riflemen are brutal.)

    The only cure is to eat gum. It wads up around the men, forming round protective balls (technically, a bezoar.) And stays inside you forever. The good news is it will protect you from poisons, making you an even bigger MoFo!

    P.S. please get and stay well. Your posts are the second funniest things on the Internet. We need you.

  5. I suffer from chronic severe depression and have for most of my life. This causes a number of problems. Food and sex addiction. Social anxiety. OCD. The food addiction and OCD have made me overweight which, in turn, has given me diabetes and sleep apnea. The social anxiety is bad enough that I don’t even try to go to social functions and I have no love life. (Besides, I wouldn’t want to afflict this on anybody.) To cope with this I’m practically a recluse, with no real friends where I live. Add to that my atheism and skepticism tends to alienate a lot of people. (I got called “creepy” by one person when she found that I didn’t believe in god.) Fortunately, one psychiatrist was able to get me on disability since I can’t even look for a job, much less hold one down. So I basically live my life at home while looking out on the world through the Internet.

    1. :( I’m sorry you have to go through all of that. I’ve got about half of those too. Glad you found a good psychiatrist. I’ve been to seven and have yet to find one I like. *internet hugs*

      1. Thanks for all the sympathy for this. As horrible as it sounds, I’ve learned to live with it and while I wish things were different, I can handle it. The worst thing about this is that nobody can see it. It’s not that I want to parade it around, but when people hear about this the usual reaction is that I’m just trying to suck at the public teat and not go to work or that I’m just trying to play the drama card to get sympathy and the worse thing is being told that I should just get over it. Like you should just get over having a tiny stomach. I’m very intelligent, witty, talented, and an all around nice guy and I wish so much I could go to school and get that degree I know I could get if the damn depression didn’t get in the way.

        1. It’s pretty common, we internalize those messages (lazy, malingerer) and they feed the spiral.
          My last psych finally got it into my head that:
          1. I will never be able to live completely independently
          2. That’s not a moral failing

          It can be a mountain of guilt and shame. I hope you’re okay and things are manageable.

          1. One of the things I’ve learned is that my emotional bits are separate from my intellectual bits. In other words, I KNOW people aren’t looking at me and thinking that I’m a huge, awful slob, but emotionally I feel that they are. It helps me cope with the depression better. The worst thing is that I can’t get past it to do the things I know I’m capable of.

    2. Some of what you mention I’m going through now.
      I have the food addiction though probably not diabetes yet. I know I do have high blood pressure as I get a twitch in my eye (my aunt told me that’s a sign of blood pressure issue).

      Definately have social anxiety. Only have a couple of long distance friends. No real social life.

      I really don’t have any atheist or skeptical friends. Closest is a friend with benefits (sort of), but she’s Wiccan.

      Anyway, I do hope for the best in your life and that things can get better for you.

  6. Elyse, do you know if your experience differs much from those who’ve had a gastric bypass without the tumor? I’m, you know, asking for a friend. He decided on Monday to get gastric bypass surgery, and your article has him kind of freaked out.

    1. Everybody’s different. I’ve asked my doctor if things might change, if one day I’ll be able to eat more carbs. The answer is *shrug*.

      But your friend shouldn’t freak out. It’s a totally manageable thing. His life WILL BE different and it WILL revolve around food more than it already does (which is a weird thing to wrap your head around.) In the end, I’m really glad I had this surgery. I really love living in a world designed to fit my body. I like not being achey. I like being able to buy clothes I like. I sleep better. I’m strong. And the societal implications are not insignificant. Plus, I get drunk super fast.

      Food boredom is a thing he’ll almost definitely run into early on… but it gets better. It just becomes habit.

    2. It does differ from person to person. I can’t eat sausage or ice cream AT ALL. When I was first out of the surgery, and just after my liquid diet, I couldn’t eat bananas. Now I can. Other people can’t eat chicken. Or Eggs. It is really a random thing that no one can guess at.
      That said, having to give up these few things for the insane amount of improvement in my life… I’d go back and do it all again just the same.
      As Elyse said, your life revolves around food.. but in a completely different way. A good way, I think.
      Most importantly, it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

  7. This definitely makes having no thyroid because of cancer seem very very mild (and luckily most thyroid cancer is relatively easy to treat with few side effects.) Even then it has taken a long time for me to come to terms with the whole cancer thing.
    I find it frustrating that I cannot forget about having had cancer. Every morning I take Synthroid and every time I look in a mirror I see a scar. It doesn’t actually help to know that lots of people need to take thyroid hormone every morning or that (according to other people) no one notices the scar. It is still a reminder.
    I imagine that the food issue is the same for you. It makes it really hard to forget about the whole thing for a decent period of time.
    I do strongly recommend getting involved with a support group or one on one counciling if you feel like you are not managing to cope with what has happened. I didn’t take advantage of all of the help I could have at first (even though it was free since I’m in Canada) since I had a “good” cancer and didn’t feel I should complain. Eventually, it became clear that I really wasn’t coping with what had happened.

    1. I had a “good” cancer, too. It spreads super slow… so you can have the tumor forever almost and you’re fine. And the treatment is just cutting it out.

      But it’s also a “bad” cancer in that once it spreads, there’s nothing you can do. It doesn’t respond to chemo or radiation. So…. yeah. It’s a whole mix of emotions. There’s no real reason to assume it spread. But then it’s always in the back of my mind that there was no real reason for the tumor to be there in the first place and how easily it could have gone undetected.

  8. Just so you know, you’re like, not at all alone. When I was young my friend’s dad (in his fifties at the time, so he must be in his 60s now, still kicking around) had been living with his stomach removed for several years. He was totally normal to me except that when we went to Whataburger he’d buy one chicken tender, remove the breading, and eat it. He still does fun runs, he is super-boss.

  9. The way that tissue engineering is progressing, I have little doubt that in 10-15 years, we’ll be able to grow a new stomach in a vat and surgically implant it in someone. So there may well come a day when you’ll be able to eat cupcakes again.

    1. But then I gain all my weight back!

      And my understanding is that it’s not the restriction that causes dumping but rather the fact that you’re having surgery on your digestive track. You can still dump even if you’ve never had your stomach altered… so if my stomaquito regenerated, it would just turn into a stomachissimo stuffed with a hundred pounds of beef jerky every day.

  10. Ooh, ooh, I love TMI story time! I get to tell my butt story!

    I once had an anal abscess. I went to three different urgent cares but they just threw antibiotics at me, rather than, IDK, draining the fucking infection. Finally, after it broke (EVERYWHERE), I went to the hospital, where the doctor looked at me in shock: “How did you even make it here? This is one of the worst I’ve seen!” (Probably because urgent care didn’t do shit about it.)

    Oh, I have an insanely high tolerance for pain. It’s a shame I don’t want kids, because I could probably survive “natural” childbirth without a problem, heh. Anyway, they drained the sucker. That was some INTENSE pain. Just pretend you’re being stabbed with a sharp needle over and over and over again in your anus. Then do it again a few times for good measure. But, apparently, I am an amazing patient, because they told me they have never had anyone lay so very still through the procedure.

    AND THEN IT CAME BACK TWO MORE TIMES. After that, I refused to go to urgent care and just went straight to the hospital.

    Finally, the second drain seemed to get rid of the nasty infection.

    This was like, two years ago, and I’m still too paranoid to have anal sex (even though that wasn’t the cause). Hahaha.

    I am already ridiculously hard to embarrass while at the doctor’s office (sure, you want a whole troop of trainees to come in while I’m butt-naked? WHY NOT!), but man, now I can handle ANYTHING. I had to drop and spread 93789535 times. Everything else is a piece of cake.

    1. Oh my god, this is fantastic! I’m sorry for the pain, though. I just Googled “anal abscess” because I didn’t know much about them. Wow.

      I bet people are going to read this and squirm.

      1. I was driving to pick up my son from school and I was like “Oh man, I forgot to talk about how my asshole is always bleeding. You know, that’s probably for the best.”

        And now I’m glad I left it out. Because my bloody asshole is nowhere as cool as yours.

        1. Oh, I always have a bloody bum, too, and I think that was at least part of the cause — I poop a LOT. A lot lot. Pretty sure I have mild IBS (sometimes severe, but not often).

          Most people are familiar with anal abscesses because it’s fairly common in pet dogs and cats (if your dog starts scootchin’ his butt a lot, it’s probably an abscess!). But, it’s a pretty common first-world-thing.

          And abscesses can really happen ANYWHERE. I just got lucky and had one RIGHT on my anus.

          It made pooping … interesting and uncomfortable.

          But yea, it came back twice after the first time. I meant to say the third drain (not second) seemed to finally get rid of it, plus the third round of antibiotics. Apparently that’s not uncommon, either.

          And I am just REALLY, REALLY, REALLY lucky that I didn’t end up with a fistula, especially since the abscess kept coming back. That would have been far, far worse!

          I now get SUPER PARANOID whenever things get a little weird or itchy or whatever. The tell-tale sign is a very hard bump. I check regularly (in the shower), lol. Because sometimes if you catch them early, antibiotics alone will take care of it.

      2. Also, I must say, the absolute “best” part was when they had to pack it with gauze or whatever, and so I had a hanging string coming from my butt for 2 or 3 days. You are supposed to have the doctors remove them, unless they fall out, but by the 2nd infection, I would just rip it out on the 3rd day.

        Epson salt baths were my only relief, lol.

        Also, I honestly, really, truly need to get better at listening to my body. The infection was fierce and the doctors warned me that, had it not finally broken, things could have gotten really nasty for me. Looking back, I remember I was in a total haze for well over a week, and in a LOT of pain — at one point, I had to crawl on the floor to the bathroom, and I called urgent care in tears demanding pain medicine — this is when they should have told me go to the hospital, but no one ever did…and I was stupid and believed them when they told me the infection would go away with antibiotics and no drain. And I just powered through.

        I was even attending my ASL classes while pretty sick with infection!

        But, seriously, I could cut my arm off with a rusty saw and probably power through. I also don’t black out easily. I will fight it with my entire being. I was a lot dumber when I was younger, and would drink and take pills (too much of both), and there were times when I really should have been OUT, but I would fight the black haze invading my vision until it passed.

        Hilariously, I get panic attacks during pressure checks at the eye doc.

    2. Wow. Just…wow!

      I’ve have something like those, except on my arm and leg.

      Found out that iodine applied to it for a while works at getting rid of it. Gives the skin nice coloring too. Couldn’t tell you what, since I’m color blind in that range.

      “….and I’m still too paranoid to have anal sex”

      My (eventual) friend with benefits tells going anal is a tease. True?

    3. Ugh… never had an abscess thankfully. Though I’ve had a small handful of fissures. and OH MY LORD do they hurt. But yeah ever since my gastric bypass… I’ve also had a lot more bleeding down there. I think my movements are a bit more… unregulated. I vascillate between hard as a rock and large as a fist to liquiform, depending upon what I eat and apparently whether there’s a full moon and it’s raining on a tuesday.

  11. Oh and I must say, I had FUN while getting the last three of my wisdom teeth pulled. They didn’t put me under (couldn’t afford it), and the surgeon was hilarious. There was also the nurse, and a training nurse, AND some random sales lady present (“Can she watch?” the doc asked, “SURE!” I replied, because I like attention). My bottom right wisdom tooth was REALLY impacted, but by the 6th or 7th chunk, the surgeon got the last bit out, held the bloody bit up in the air, and yelled, “SUCCESS!” (Let me tell you, it’s very hard to laugh when your mouth is being held open with all those tools and things!)

    After we were done, I went into the lobby to grab my wallet to pay for the procedure. I was drooling blood everywhere, and laughing and joking. Some scared kid looked at me and said, “Did they give you laughing gas?” and my friend replied for me: “No, she’s just always like that!”

    The kid looked less scared.

    I remember no pain during or after. I ended up giving away my Vicodin to a friend who actually needed it.

    I really should start doing medical experiments. I’d be perfect.

    If donating plasma wasn’t such a pain in the ass, I’d totally do it.

  12. The post said, “Is there anything you want to know about my surgery? Ask me anything.” I have a question if anyone knows. Does the stomach stretch in such a way that it would grow bigger with time? I don’t know if this is a stupid question. This question is born out of that one scene in the movie Seven, and enough said I am sure.

    1. I, myself, had gastric bypass coming up on four years ago now. I went from being 357 to what I am now: 220. Could probably stand to lose a little more, but I’m happy with it and I’ve stayed stable for over two years now.
      I am by no means an expert, but I have done a lot of research and questioning.. and have had a lot of experience. The stomach DOES stretch with time… from what I have learned it will likely never go back to the size it was, but it does stretch and become larger.
      Does that answer your question?

  13. After reading about Marilove’s experiences, I feel like I need to breathe into a paper bag for about 15 minutes! Christ, woman, your life sounds like the backstory for some kind of Marvel superhero (or supervillain). Have you started developing any special powers?

    My woes pale in comparison. Everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly for me until I turned 40. In the last six years it seems like my body has completely started to fall apart. My back hurts every day, I have tendinitis in both arms and shoulders, I’m up to 3 root canals so far and I need to call the dentist to schedule another one, and I’m starting to have anxiety and mild depression. This morning I kicked off an exercise program I am calling Operation Stop Dying So Damn Fast.

    1. It wasn’t THAT bad! So much worse exists. Aside from a really badly sprained ankle (which I didn’t realize was sprained until like two days later, and, yes, I walked on it way too much), I haven’t had many other medical stuff. Well, stomach issues, I suppose, but I’m used to those by now.

      I just find a lot of amusement in such things. Anal abscess are quite common but no one talks about them!

  14. My life is weird because I folded underwear today. That by itself isn’t weird except that the underwear belongs to my daughter’s boyfriend. He is 46 years old and she is 21. The two of them and their baby live with me. They love each other and the baby is our precious love. I would not have chosen this for my daughter and I don’t know how this will work out but I support my daughter and I am privileged to be very involved in my granddaughter’s life.

  15. Elyse, thanks for sharing that private stuff, I’m sure it helps a lot of others in the same boat. May I ask, did you have chemo? Can you say anything about “Chemo brain?

  16. I love that we can do the TMI thing on here. I laughed and I cried a little. Mari’s story made me do both and squeeze my butcheeks together tightly.

    My things. I think a few know about my fibromyalgia. It’s can only be described as constant aches. And I react badly to behind ‘poked’. The arms are the worst. With pressure that most people hardly feel anything I say ouch. But I’m not as. Severe as many.

    The thing that gets a lot of people is I’m extremely near sighted. I’m at -9 with an astigmatism. And I think I’m now needing bifocals – before 40! I always have people ask why I just don’t get LASIK but its because I can’t. Laser surgery won’t fix me. Apparently there is a surgery I can get where they replace my natural lens. Very few people get how bad my sight is. My partner was picking me up from my eye doctor and he got to experience my sight through two lenses he held up. He was like wow I had no idea! And he even wears glasses too!

    Here something weird. I found out last week someone I know has hemochromatosis. Apparently it’s a genetic disease where your body hordes iron. Scary stuff. Hopefully it was caught in time before permanent damage was done. A lot of diet changes I guess.

  17. everyday of my my life I have to stick a needle on me thigh and push le liquid in my muscle. I live with multiple sclerosis and I take copaxone but still, tomorrow I might be blind, paralysed, or (less awful but still quite) walk like I’m drunk or have pins and needles constantly, in my whole body. So nice!!

    You are a courageous person Elyse, I read through your whole story and I found it inspiring and endearing. I hope it gets better.?

  18. “I have an apparently undiagnosable disease.”

    Oh guess what me too! When I was a kid I had to get tested for all this stuff like muscular dystrophy but they COULDN’T FIND ANYTHING. Eventually they decided that I had some kind of neurological problem but they didn’t know what it was and referred 5/6 year old (whatever it was) me to physical therapy, which actually was helpful in a lot of ways so my first experiences with the medical establishment were nice even if some of the later ones weren’t. Then I stopped becoming less and less able to do stuff (I had never really noticed that this was going on but I did have people getting mad at me about stuff like needing to “walk” with both my hands and feet to get up stairs) but never really got to the point where I could do the same things as most other people.

    I suspect I’m dyspraxic and they somehow failed to diagnose me but by luck gave me the exact early treatment necessary to help a dyspraxic person. I never was diagnosed with anything except a DSM diagnosis normally reserved for people with brain damage, which I know I don’t have because I was tested extensively for it back when I was widely considered to have the crazy, that is going to be taken out under the dsm 5.

    This is obviously nowhere near as as interesting- or for that matter, as difficult to deal with- as some of the stuff Jane Do and Elyse talk about. Basically if I’m distracted I just walk into doors to open them instead of using my hands and it takes me a long time to go up stairs if I’m carrying things, especially if I can’t use the hand rails. I can go up stairs without going on fours nowadays but sometimes I still instinctively do that private houses (where I probably learned it was relatively more acceptable).

    I guess I’m autistic, have sensory processing problems, learning disabilities, etc too but we seem to be focusing on “physical” stuff and that’s what I’ve got.

  19. I have what’s called a “myoclonic jerk” that I developed while working for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign — when I feel stress, which is often, you might see me spaz out quickly as though someone shocked me with a taser. Just happens out of nowhere. It’d be funny if it weren’t so irritating! So yes, that’s me, Paul the Myoclonic Jerk.

  20. This has shown me something I need to be reminded of constantly: nobody’s life is as easy as I think it is. Most of us just go through life looking at people only on the surface and think, “Oh, it’d be nice to be him or her.” But underneath the surface there are so many things going on that we don’t know about and we can’t tell if the life being led is as good as we think it might be.

  21. Girl, I have so much admiration for you. I hate to play faux doctor but two things occurred to me while I was reading: 1. Intestines can leak fluid when someone’s not well. This is known to cause anemia in men or women with no real risk factors. Maybe that’s why you’re dehydrated. 2. Dumb question, but could you be allergic to wheat? I know people with celiac’s are much more prone to stomach cancer. I’m in that category.

    My odd thing – well I have a strange gall bladder. It looks more like the flying spaghetti monster more than a human organ. No kidding.

  22. My cousin had a gastric bypass (or other WL surgery, I’m not sure) this summer–she’s lost over 100 lbs and seems happier and healthier overall. However, she’s keeping the surgery a secret and when people ask her how she got so thin she says “exercise”..I understand there can be a stigma with that type of surgery, but I think her lying about it and potentially giving others false hope that they can shed 100+ lbs that quickly by just jogging is kind of shitty. I really admire your honesty and wish you the best!

    My stomach troubles are pretty mild in comparison to others’: when I was in college, I suddenly started having digestive problems (really painful stomach cramps and bloating after eating) and was eventually diagnosed with an intolerance to disaccharides (lactose and sucrose) and cut all sugar and dairy from my diet. That restriction contributed to my depression at the time and I felt like a pain in the ass having to ask everyone what was in their food (I was super sensitive, even a tiny amount of table sugar in spaghetti sauce or something–or nothing–would set me off and neither lactaid nor muscle relaxants nor pain meds helped–thinking back, it may have had a psychosomatic component). Eventually I got used to the food restrictions; it actually forced me to eat fairly healthy, and I learned how to cook. And after about 5 years, the flora in my tummy apparently grew back and I can now eat stuff again.

    1. There is a bit of a stigma… people always comment about how I took the “easy” way out. I then remind them that apparently the “easy” way involves someone cutting into me, days of pain and bleeding, a month of eating a liquid only diet and never EVER in my life being able to eat ice cream or sausage again without severe knife-stabbing pain…
      They are usually startled by all that and then we can have an honest discussion about what my surgery really was. A tool, and a tool I have to use well or it won’t work. It’s not a quick fix and it’s not a super-cure-all magical remedy. It’s just another tool in my weight loss playbook.

  23. My terribly depressing story with no current happy ending. About a year and a half ago I left almost everything I loved behind in Minnesota to come to California. I did so for a few reasons. Among them: To go to school. I’m in my thirties now and I really want a real college education, and it’s relatively cheep to go to school in CA as a resident. To be closer to my dad, who has always been kinda more like a crazy uncle than a father figure. And to be closer to the only real grandfather figure that I’ve had.

    I was the happiest I had ever been the last few years I lived in Minnesota. I mean seriously life was good. I had a well paying job. I had awesome friends. We hung out weekly if not more often. I had an active and enjoyable sex life. I was an active member in my local atheist and skeptics groups. I constantly felt loved and respected. I felt as if I belonged.

    The decision to leave has not worked out well. I haven’t started school (though with luck I will in August.) I don’t have any friends in California. For a very long time I was very very broke. I’m also more depressed then I have ever been in my life. Some days are very very hard. But then I think about why I came out here, and that I can’t go back until I’m done. And that sort of squares my shoulders, and stiffens my lip. It sucks now. It really does. But I’m not through. And when I am, I shall be awesome again, and more so.

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