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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Here Comes the Shit: Part 4

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

September 4, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

It was so wonderful to be done with laxatives after the colonoscopy. Surely I hoped that cleaning out my bowels would solve the problem, but it didn't. I didn't start to panic right away. I mean, when I hadn't used the bathroom on Tuesday, I reasoned that my system had been totally cleaned out and I needed time to create some new waste. However, by Thursday when there had only been one drop of poop, I knew that this was going to be a journey. Whatever was causing this madness was not going away easily.

The following Tuesday I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Lee. "Your colon is beautiful," she said. "We don't see any cancers or anything bad." For sure that was a relief, but the glass was only half full.

"But Dr. Lee, I've only use the bathroom once," I sighed.

She is not sure what triggered this round of severe Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). However, my active thyroid is low and that could surely be the culprit. Or, it could just be stress. She wants me to see an endocrinologist to investigate before she starts prescribing any medications. I have an appointment the first week of October. I was originally diagnosed with IBS 3 years ago. I had the same symptoms that I do now, except I was having diarrhea, rather than constipation.

I've been so focused on the constipation, laxatives and pooping everywhere, that I haven't mentioned the other issues I've been having along with the constipation. Let me explain. I'm also having extreme food sensitivity to the point that some foods make me sick to even smell. I'm extremely bloated with whatever I eat, no matter the amount. Three slices of bacon and 1 slice of toast feels like an omelet, hash browns and toast. All of these are systems are classic IBS.

And what seems like the kiss of death, most sugar makes me sick to my stomach. I haven't eaten a piece of chocolate in 3 weeks nor had a cupcake -- and that's major for me. Now people without HIV can get IBS. They don't know the cause of this illness, for each person it's different. My HIV doctor, who handles my primary care, speculates that mine is caused by all the years of toxic HIV medications. Who knows, but we do know that stress can trigger IBS. Lord knows I'm under a ton of stress. Trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from, will do it to you every time.

So here I am unable to use the bathroom and eating is tricky at best. Like the taste of turkey makes me nauseous. Now for sure, I've had mild food sensitivity and bloating off and on over these last few years. I've just learned to live so it, but I haven't had IBS this bad in 3 years. Click Here to read about my IBS flair up the last time.

This has been crazy to say the least. My Gastroenteritis (GI) doctor's primary goal at this point is to get me regular again. She says that the more I use the bathroom, the more regular I will get. So, to stimulate my bowels, she has me taking Meta-mucil (fiber) 3 times a day, Miarlax which is a mild laxative and stool softer, 2 times a week and she has also prescribed a new medication that may help that I'm getting this week.

I'm frustrated to the point that it is affecting me emotionally. I've had a ton of sleepless nights in the last few weeks, which, certainly is not helping the problem. My attitude sucks. I'm not at a good place right now, not at all. It's like as soon as I adapt to whatever the hell it is that is attacking me, something else hits and then I have to figure it out all over again to adjust to my new normal.

On top of all this I'm still having pain in my back and side. It could be all this constapation, but it feels like something else so, I'm having an MRI this week. For sure managing chronic health is a full time job. That's why I tell people that having HIV is more than popping a pill, T-Cell count (CD4) and Viral Load. It's a wonder that I keep me all together.

For sure, I'm never going to quit, no matter how much I feel like I want to. My perseverance is simple, when I wake in the morning, this means that I'm still a part of God's's earthly plan. This means that there is something I'm supposed to do with my life, so I keep pressin'. I press because the sum total of my life is greater than the sum total of my pain.

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See Also
HIV & You: Managing Gut Symptoms
More Advice on Coping With Diarrhea


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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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