Meeting My New Gastroenterologist

Today I got to meet with a new gastroenterologist. It’s something I know I’ve needed to do. I sit here and spout off advice to others like "what's a trigger food?" and "how to take care of yourself." Yet, here I am, hesitant to see a medical professional thanks to a combo of medical fatigue and anxiety.

I avoided the doctor for a long time

In 2020, 2 things happened to me. I moved across the state of New York, and the global pandemic swept across the world and kept me from wanting to leave my house, let alone find a new primary care physician and gastroenterologist.

I felt like I was too busy that I needed to focus on settling down, finding a stay-at-home work, and avoiding one-on-one encounters with people who could tell me how sickly I had become.

I was tired! Tired of the contagion and infection rates. I was tired of 24/7 medical news. So, it took me the better part of 2 years to build up enough courage to make a single doctor’s appointment to assess my gut and butt troubles.

Anxiety at the gastroenterologist

When I sat in my examination room, that familiar wave of anxiety rushed over me. The fear that I would not get everything I needed to say out. I would have constipation of the mind; luckily, a PA quickly came in and asked me why I was there as if I had gotten lost.

Talking to a PA about the size and girth of your recent poops is nothing like riding a bike. It felt so awkward like I was blowing up a balloon animal and tying it into knots. Stinky, pump, fictitious knots!

She, thankfully, quickly got me on track. "So we're going to take a stool sample and perform a colonoscopy, just to rule out everything, and judging by the fact that anxiety is your biggest trigger," she returned to an IBS diagnosis again at the end.

Oh, cool, so we’re going to go through this anal circus to end up right back where we started. After the doctor came in and reconfirmed everything the PA had told me, I said, "So, is this normal? You don't really see many 26-year-olds getting colonoscopies."

If only I had known what this doctor would say, this brand new man for whom I had never met a medical professional. "They do all the time, and well, then you don't have to take my recommendation, huh?"

I was just asking! Sorry sir, let me grovel in shame and scrape myself off the floor in front of you. Deep down, a part of me felt vindicated for having avoided this level of medical confrontation for 2 years.

The appointment was necessary

But that’s where they left me: 3 empty vials that demand getting filled with stool and the promise of a cavity search on my horizon.

Despite my flagrant hesitation, I know it was worth it. While comforting, I was living in the dark these last few years is merely ignorant. No news isn’t good news. It’s fear. The thing that triggers my IBS in the first place. The only way I will manage this cycle of IBS gut violence is if I heed the advice and take steps toward helping myself.

I’m proud of getting out there, even if I have to send other adults my adult poop.

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