Earlier this year, I’d often pester my boyfriend about dosing off while we were watching TV. I was underemployed and lacked a regular sleep schedule, so I couldn’t fully understand how he’d be so spent by the end of each day that he’d pass out with a good movie or show on TV. When I started holding a full (and even part) time job, however, our roles reversed. I fall asleep every single time we watch television. He used to wake me up so I wouldn’t miss any good parts of The Sopranos, but then it got really hard. He’d tickle my stomach or rub my head and I’d remain out cold, too exhausted to abandon my rest. He also knew I was out of batteries and didn’t want to disrupt my sleep if I was that tired.
At first, I chalked the increased fatigue up to actually having a normal schedule and wearing myself out each day. I still think that has an impact on me, but little did I know, I had a medical reason for being so groggy all along, as well as other issues that needed medical attention.
A couple weeks ago, something happened to me that was so alarming, I left work at 9:30 a.m. and raced to the nearest urgent care in tears. At the time, my manager was out of town and same with my amazing colleague Emilie. I had an orientation to host for work but was so scared by the medical emergency that I dropped my entire day to seek help from a doctor. Truthfully, I feared for my life, and in that moment, nothing else mattered.
I wailed in the waiting room on the phone with my boyfriend, who promised everything would be OK and that the nurse and doctor would solve the issue. I sobbed when they took me into the patient room and even harder when the actual doctor approached.
“What’s the matter, dear?” he asked, giving me a hug.
“Something’s seriously wrong with my stomach,” I said, the tears streaming down my face below my large, heart-shaped sunglasses. “My dad ate poorly like I do, and he died when I was 17. I don’t want that to happen to me too.”
My fear was that I had an ulcer. I had all the symptoms and worse. Every time I ate, I felt a stabbing pain in my belly. I burped and hiccuped nonstop. Nothing relieved the pain I felt in my stomach. There were other things I won’t divulge, but they were all horrifying. I could feel my insides churning and rotting, and I didn’t know how I’d get better.
After some exams, the doctor ruled out an ulcer and diagnosed me with gastritis, which can be brought on by poor eating habits, high consumption of alcohol and/or caffeine, and, the world’s biggest killer, stress. I’ve been a high strung person since birth (no, really, I was born a month early into a high stress hospital environment and am convinced it wired me for anxiousness for life). When I went to the doctor, I’d been coming off more than a year of underemployment and a slew of drastic life changes. I’d also been consuming lots of carbs and fatty foods for far too long. I was ten pounds heavier than I’d been a year earlier. Eventually, it all caught up with me.
Two weeks ago, I went back to the doctor to review my blood test results. I tested negative for cancer or other malignancies, but he revealed my cholesterol is too high for a person my age (genetic, plus I eat like shit), I have arthritis, and I have a B-12 deficiency, which explains the fatigue to some degree. Years of turning to comfort food has done a number on my body, and I’ve had to make some serious dietary adjustments as such. I’ve already lost five pounds since making major life changes and adjustments, and I know I have a long way to go to undo the damage I’ve done to myself.
I’m still in recovery from the stomach scare, but glad to report I don’t have anything serious. I just have to be careful about what I munch on from here on out to avoid getting an ulcer — or worse, stomach cancer — in the future.
My boyfriend and I are having more salads, cutting down our beer intake, and cooling it with the coffee. I still love Chipotle and Mexican food more than anything, but I’m being better about what I consume. I just have to. Believe me, I still want burritos all day everyday, but I hate the way they make me feel afterward. I cannot physically handle it anymore.
I’m focusing on screenwriting and have decided to stop writing for online outlets. The pitch process is exhausting and I don’t have the energy to deal with it after an emotionally draining past few weeks. More than anything, I have always used it as a crutch and way to avoid screenwriting, which is what I really want to do. I’m not going to subject myself to being watered down or pushed away again. I actually tried writing about this experience for a publication with which I’m friendly, but was told by an intern that my health scare seemed “trite” and would offend people who’ve actually had ulcers and endured serious health emergencies. Because stomach bleeding is no big deal if you don’t, in fact, have an ulcer. Suck it up and save the sob stories for readers who care.
That’s all for now. I will be updating this from time to time, but the big takeaway here is that I’m finally taking care of myself, mentally and physically. I won’t be wasting my writing efforts on pitches that will only go unanswered. Maybe I’m just not good at online pitching or writing anymore, and that’s OK. I’m focusing on screenwriting, however bad it might be as I go through the motions as an amateur. It’s been really healthy taking a break from online writing because I’ve got used to not having that instant gratification of publishing something. I got way too accustomed to people checking out my stuff all the time that I didn’t know what to do with myself when I wasn’t churning out copy every other day. You may not see me writing for well known or cool websites anymore, but for the first time in months, I am writing for myself, and that’s the best thing I could do for myself right now.