Trust is a loaded word. Probably, the one word we use the most without really thinking about it. When we are managers, we tell our team, “I trust you to to handle this.” We tell our spouses, “I trust you to be with me always.” We use trust so much that it has lost its meaning. I have a different trust – I don’t trust doctors.
When I was working at Bosch, back in 2011, I started to lose weight rapidly. I dropped 8kgs, plummeting to 45kg at the lowest. I struggled to eat, feeling full as soon I ate two spoons, and I would feel nauseated immediately after. Working in Bosch was enjoyable, but dealing with bloated egos all the time, and making reports and presentations to CEOs was stressful. I struggled with brain fog. I struggled with sleep. I would sleep too less or too much. It didn’t affect my work – I can be very organized and effective when I want to. But the strain of not eating and working at a high level took its toll. My worried family and friend made me see the ones in white coats – the doctors who think they heal.
The first doctor did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy the same day. The colonoscopy he did without even local anesthesia. If you have ever wondered what it is like to have a pipe shoved up your ass all the way to your intestines, then you know I have been there and done that. It is painful. It is hell. It is cruel. I screamed in pain even as my friend sobbed outside on my sister’s shoulders. “She will be ok, Swati,” my sister said, patting her on the back. I will never forget that moment. My family and my friend merging into one.
That idiotic doctor could find nothing major. So, we moved to other doctors.
The gynecologist said I had ovarian cysts that needed to be operated. I ignored her.
Repeated blood tests showed me lacking in almost all the vitamins. They gave me Vitamin B12 injections, painful ones into the spine. They gave me Vitamin D shots. Another doctor did another round of an endoscopy. One of the blood tests showed I tested positive for something called the ANA Test. So, they packed me off to a meeting with an immunologist. Apparently, the waiting list for an immunologist was six months! Thankfully, Bosch pulled a few strings for me and got me in for an appointment in six days. They said I have IBS with probably some sort of autoimmune component. “Come back the day you get joint pain and fever,” the immunologist said, not even bothering to look up.
That’s when I walked out and decided never to trust doctors again. After six months, Rs 50,000 worth of tests, I was told to come back. They had no idea, did they?
Since then, I self-diagnose myself. I have not gone back to these doctors. I made notes of when I feel sick. I realized I couldn’t tolerate dairy well, so I cut dairy products from my diet. (Except for my beloved ice-cream, which I devour even if I feel sick afterward). I removed gluten. I took shots of all the vitamins as I can’t absorb them the normal way. Slowly, I became better. I started meditating as stress affects my gut more than others. I took another job with less stress.
Today, my symptoms come and go, and I can’t figure out the pattern. Last year, about this time, I was feeling wretched, not being able to eat before another dose of Rifagut 400 (an antibiotic), vitamins, and probiotics put me back on track. I realized there were more foods that cause me pain, so I worked on eliminating those too. I started following the FODMAP diet. For a while, after June, I was back to my old self – I devoured nine dosas, and I finished off whatever others left on their plates.
Now, for the past three days, the old symptoms are back. I shove two spoons before feeling full. I stifle back nausea. I struggle with sleep. My weight is back to 45kgs, and no extent of junk food is budging that scale. I buy another pack of Rifagut. I dose myself with Vitamin B12, D, and C. Today, I could barely eat a banana, and that was my breakfast. That’s all I can eat. I think of food – glorious food – and I want to eat again. I wish that I can trust my body again.
I wish then that of all the things we take for granted – never take for granted your wonderful ability to eat. Savour every morsel. Feed your body with goodness. Feed it with love.
As for me, I will wait for the time I know that my body will return to me again and I can eat five pancakes for breakfast, and say I am hungry 30 minutes again. I can only hope that it won’t take long this time and I can lay my weary head down finally.