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Crohn's Disease Forum » Support Forum » Being Unwell & Working - I don't know what to do


10-28-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
MoRymes
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Being Unwell & Working - I don't know what to do

I'm having so much anxiety right now that it's making me nauseous...

I'm in the undiagnosed club with issues for over 2 years now. Basically, up until about a week ago, I was feeling great. I had all of my symptoms under control with diet and exercise. I recently landed a new job, only a little over a month ago, and I absolutely love it. I'm right out of school, and landing a great job like this in the economy's current state is really a huge thing. The job utilizes my background, has great benefits, and a really great environment.

Out of nowhere, a week ago, I started having really bad pain anytime I ate anything at all. I kept hoping it would go away, but it didn't. I went on a liquid diet for Thursday and Friday, and that helped the pain. Yesterday and today I've re-introduced solid foods slowly, and I'm in pain again, though it's not quite as bad as before. Also whenever I eat my stomach is constantly making noises for over 2 hours. This hasn't really happened to me in a long time (it used to happen about a year ago), but not since then. I don't know what's causing the noises and I don't know how to stop them. I've tried muscle relaxants, teas, and such, but nothing seems to work.

I have a colonoscopy scheduled for Friday, and I'm really, really hoping that gives some answers. But I'm honestly not all that optimistic, because I've had multiple procedures in the past (upper endoscopy, CAT scan, ultrasound, bloodwork) that haven't given any definitive answers, much less offered a real solution.

With the level of pain I'm going through and the sheer humiliation of my stomach singing non-stop so half the company can hear it, I really don't know how I'm going to get through work. I'm so depressed and want to just lock myself away in my room and never come out. I've been racking my brain over the last couple days trying to come up with ideas to make a living from home. But it's just so depressing that I worked so hard in school for almost 7 years, finally graduate, land a really good job, have my symptoms under control. And then this happens.

Does anyone else have this symptom of a noisy stomach? How do you deal with it at work? I've been thinking about just fasting all day, i.e. having an easy to digest breakfast like a shake, and then nothing to eat until I get home. But then my stomach will be noisy due to hunger, but I could probably play that off as a joke, and hopefully my system would adapt to that eventually, and I won't be in pain.

Any tips for pain? I really haven't been able to identify a solution for it other than to just endure and let it go away on its own. I've tried initiating a BM, but that's usually not the cause. I almost feel like I'm inflating and it just keeps going and going, but there's no release for it.
10-28-2012, 04:41 PM   #2
Skyemiles75
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
When I just had my flare I had the same thing happening with the horribly loud stomache noises. I had to go to a liquid diet. I would drink Muscle Milk or Ensure all day at work. It kept me full and cut the noises down too. I would eat a big dinner when I got home or if I was starving eat a protein bar in the car on the way home.

I hope you feel better soon and you get some answers.
10-28-2012, 08:28 PM   #3
SarahBear
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I'm sorry you're having such a rough time, but congrats on your job!

My stomach has always made a lot of noise, but I don't know for sure that it's related to Crohn's (my cousin has the same problem, and while she has had tummy problems in the past, I don't think hers was anything serious). This might sound strange, but are you really thin? My cousin and I hypothesized that it had something to do with the tiny amount of body fat insulating our stomachs. For me, it was usually because I was hungry, but your situation sounds different. However, fasting just to avoid stomach noises doesn't really sound like the best option.

What kind of job are we talking about? Is it an office setting? I work in an office, but with only two other people. I don't worry too much about them hearing my stomach (they both know about my Crohn's). I take a heating pad to work on bad days - it seems like that helps. If that isn't an option, maybe try body heat patches. I just wear a tank top under my shirt and stick the patch on there.
10-29-2012, 07:25 AM   #4
MoRymes
 
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Thanks for the tip and the reply, Skyemiles. I still feel some of the symptoms with liquids also, though it's less pronounced. Do you use anything with the liquids, like flaxseeds or something, because if I don't I can hear the liquids slushing around in me. I've been having them with a teaspoon or half teaspoon of fennel, but am thinking of using flaxseeds.

Thanks for the reply, Sarah. I'd say I'm about average weight (5'9 and 155 lbs). For me, I do get grumbles when I'm hungry, but they're fairly normal. After eating for some reason my system seems to get really out of whack these days. No matter what I eat, even liquids (though with liquids it's better), I feel a lot of discomfort and pain. It also seems to be linked to taking acid blockers. Without acid, I feel that I can't properly digest food. Prior to this week, I hadn't needed acid blockers for months. But this week, I have noticed them decrease some of the pain. I'm going to talk to my GI on Friday to see if there are any other solutions, even if they're invasive, to dealing with this besides blocking the acid.

My work environment is an office setting. I work at a small company. I'd say there are about 75-100 people in my building, and I'm immediately surrounded by 5-10 at any one time. One of my biggest anxieties is going to meetings, and these people seem to love sitting around in meetings half the day. In those, I'm basically sitting in a silent conference room with anywhere from 1-15 people.

Another huge anxiety for me is that I'm now coming to realize my symptoms will never truly be permanently normal, no matter what. Even if I can get this latest set of symptoms controllable, that's not going to be the end of it. Eventually, something will come up again, whether it's sooner or later. I've just been thinking a lot about leaving this job and trying to find another workplace where it's easier to deal with these symptoms. My background is in science, so one possibility is for me to go back to the lab. I feel more pain and noise when I sit down as compared to when I stand or walk around, and in my current job I'm always sitting, but in a lab you're mostly standing and moving around. Also, in a lab, meetings are minimal (usually 1-2 per week). There are many more disadvantages to working in lab, mostly career-related in terms of development and lower benefits/income, but maybe that has to take a backseat to dealing with these issues.

Sorry for the long reply and for spilling out all these personal issues. It feels a bit better to get everything out. And thanks for the tip about heating pads -- I haven't tried this before.

Mo
10-29-2012, 07:49 AM   #5
SarahBear
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May I ask why you're so worried about people hearing your stomach? I personally don't find it to be a big deal, and I don't think most others do, either. It even happens to people without stomach problems (often not as loud as yours, but still). I doubt anyone would make a big deal out of it. It'd be awful for you to quit your job just because of that.
10-29-2012, 09:40 AM   #6
UnXmas
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My intestines make terrible noises! Not the kind that everyone's makes sometimes when they're hungry, but horrible gurgling noises.

It used to really get me down. I did adjust though. I still hate it when it happens in public (depending on who is around and the situation), but I don't stress over it now. I don't worry about it before hand or dwell on it after. I'm not exactly sure how I reached that point. I have problems with incontinence (bladder and bowel) at times, and I think there just came a point where I just quit caring: keeping up with social expectation was just not a possibility, it's not my fault so there's no option but to accept it. I think learning that on the scale of things, no one is actually going to like or dislike you or change their opinion of you based on what your stomach does. It really is much more of a problem in our own minds than it is to anyone else. Doesn't make us stop wishing we weren't the ones with this problem, but it might help to remind yourself that everyone's worrying about their own things.

Would it help if you explained to the people around you beforehand? Tell them you have a medical condition, so they'll have to excuse your stomach? I know that seems like an embarrassing to say in itself, but it might help to kind of deflect the problem in advance. At least you're out in the open, so to speak, and you're don't have to worry that someone may comment or give you odd looks. Also if you confide in them that you actually have a serious illness going on, they're proably going to understand that it's not something to laugh about, if that's what you're fearing will happen. Or you could make light of it, if that's easier - tell them you've got something wrong with your stomach but it's no big deal.

I've read that people with ostomies can have problems with noises. Maybe someone on that part of the forum would be able to help?

If you find yourself getting really stressed, take ten minutes and go outside. Say you're going to the bathroom or whatever. It can help just to remind yourself that you are free to leave and can have some control over the situation. (I suppose this depends on the rules of your work environment).

I can say I made it through university - lots of quiet lectures and tutorials and presentations - with this basically an on and off feature in my life. I'm not sure if I was known behind my back as the girl with the noisy stomach , but it did not effect my degree or my social life in any way that I could notice.

Being ill in itself is a whole other issue. I think it really does take time to adjust to the idea of being ill, or to adjust to the idea that you will be more ill than you previously thought. It's natural to struggle with it, so don't feel bad about being anxious. You almost certainly will find a state of mind where you're more comfortable with things again. It just takes a while. I think keeping things in your life that are seperate from your illness - people, hobbies, whatever's possible for you - and focussing on these is important to keep the illness/doctors part just that: one part of your life. Having people on the same page as you about your illness helps also, if you can get this. It's hard to be ill if everyone's expecting you to be well. But other people may need time to adjust to you being ill too.

I hope you get some answers soon. I know the frustration of negative test results. Though getting some positive results has actually not made me feel as good as I thought it was. So I guess the lesson is not to worry too much if you don't get answers right away. There's still a lot in life beyond illness and diagnosis, even if it doesn't seem that way right now.

Last edited by UnXmas; 10-29-2012 at 12:38 PM.
10-29-2012, 12:47 PM   #7
MoRymes
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Sarah: One thing about the sounds is that they're not always clearly just stomach grumbles. Sometimes it sounds like it's something else (i.e. breaking wind) even though it's not, and it's non-stop. From someone else's perspective, I can just imagine them all thinking they have to sit through a 2-hour meeting with that guy (me) who's rippin' em non-stop. But I think maybe you're right and I just have to deal with it.

UnXmas: Thank you so much for the reply. After reading what you wrote, I think the fundamental issue is really just being ill in general. I'm finding it hard to be motivated about anything. I just feel like I want to make it through each day. I'm really sick almost all the time, in pain, and the noises on top of that make me self-conscious. I think you're right about communicating this to the people I work with. I think I will just sit down with my immediate team (5-6 people) and tell them that I have a chronic disease and some of the symptoms that I have to go through (without going into too much detail, of course). At least then it will be out in the open, and if something needs doing that may present difficulty for me, someone else in the team may be more willing to help out.

You're also right about getting others in your life on the same page, which is another thing stressing me out. I feel that there are a lot of expectations of me. Not too long ago I was making all these grand, long-term plans for myself, and now I'm struggling to figure out how I'm going to get through the next few months. I guess at this point I just have to take things one day at a time, and the first major hurdle is going to be accepting this as my life.

Thank you again for the reply. It did help put some things into perspective for me.
10-29-2012, 01:04 PM   #8
SarahBear
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I understand your hesitation with that. My stomach does that too, sometimes, but usually not extremely loud. I think your best bet would be to talk to the coworkers you expect to be around the most and explain to them that you have stomach problems and the noises are just noises. Addressing the issue would probably be the way to go. Like I said, it would be really awful for you to quit your job over this.

I hope it works out for you!!
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