Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Misery in the Intestines

We had company last week. Unfortunately, I got sick Thursday night with the worst diarrhea of my life. I only got a few hours sleep and was unable to entertain our company on Friday. My husband took them out touring for the day while I stayed home and rested. I was also able to do laundry and a little housekeeping.

I don't know what brought on the illness. We had been eating out a lot because (a) we were entertaining guests and (b) it's hard to feed a diverse group. I have food allergies and my sister-in-law doesn't eat red meat, my brother-in-law has to avoid salt, fatty meat, and hydrogenated fats, and my husband is diabetic plus he is a picky eater (won't eat fish, for instance). Anyway, I must have eaten some ingredient that disagreed with me in a restaurant. It is difficult to avoid allergens in restaurants because even if they don't add them, they can be on the grill or in the cooking oil, especially butter and wheat.

It's been years since I had diarrhea so bad that I needed to take something for it. So in the middle of the night, I looked for appropriate medicine and found Pepto Bismol. Unfortunately, it says not to take it if you are allergic to salicylates, which I am. By 4 am, I was getting desperate. The closest all-night store is an hour away. I decided to take a calcium tablet, which can be slightly constipating as long as it's not calcium citrate. That may have helped because I was able to sleep until 7:00.

At 7, my husband drove to our local general store to see what they had. They had Kaopectate but it carried the same warning about salicylates. (Salicylates make my ears ring and upset my stomach.) They also had Imodium so he purchased a package and brought it home. I only took one capsule because I was already recovering.

The diarrhea stayed away. Unfortunately, I then several days painfully constipated, with my tummy so bloated I looked pregnant. I've had the bloating with constipation before; in fact, even a tiny pat of butter gives me that condition. (Cow butter, that is. I'm okay with goat butter.)

I probably should have seen a doctor but we were heading into the weekend and our guests were leaving soon so I just waited it out and tried not to complain. I made an effort to rehydrate by drinking extra water, taking in salt and potassium. Of course I was afraid to bring the diarrhea back so I didn't take laxatives. (My experience is that they don't work for dairy-related constipation anyway; they just cause painful spasms.) After four days, the constipation finally ended and now I feel pretty much normal.