Spousal Stomach Support

For over 10 years, my husband, "G," has been patient, kind, and understanding regarding my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). He’s driven me to many GI doctor appointments, dealt with me doing various take-home tests, and held his tongue from saying "told you so" while I complained about an upset stomach after a Taco Bell dinner. During that time, I admired G’s bathroom regularity and relatively normal stomach. There is only room for one sad tummy in a relationship... until there isn’t.

Stomach issues for months

It started back in December of last year. We had one of our reliable, easy weeknight meals, chicken patties with mozzarella for dinner with enough leftovers. When G heated up his lunch the next day, he noticed the chicken patty tasted weird, but he shrugged it off and finished his plate. Sometimes frozen processed chicken has that taste, you know?

That lunch set off a months-long debacle we are still dealing with today. Since December, G has dealt with heartburn, nausea, loss of appetite, and general stomach unpleasantness. There were days we couldn’t do much of anything because he needed to be by a toilet. He could eat, but many foods left him on or in front of the toilet. Due to this, G lost 30 pounds since his stomach could only tolerate some select, plain foods.

Comforting a partner in pain

Luckily, I am familiar with that type of anxiety and stress. I knew that if you took this pill, it’ll solve your problems now, but it could potentially leave you constipated, so you have to be careful. Otherwise, you’ll have to take this pill to fix what that earlier pill did. This cracker will settle your stomach, but this one will surprisingly leave you in pain. More importantly, I was able to offer G a sense of comfort. Yes, the pain and the gas can be embarrassing, but it's better to get it out than leave it in, causing more pain down the line.

G fretted over seeing a GI doctor, knowing they’d likely want him to get testing done. He’s seen firsthand how colonoscopy prep is. Why would anyone see a doctor who would suggest that? My years of experience came in handy. I walked him through the questions they would likely ask, explained where the doctor would be touching his stomach, and the possibility of procedures.

GERD diagnosis

When it came time for him to get an endoscopy, I joked that at least the tube was only going in one way, unlike when I got a joint endoscopy/colonoscopy in 1 session. Anything to ease the mood! The day of, I kept his mind occupied till it was time and explained how he’d feel afterward while I drove him home. He followed my advice to expect a throat tickle the rest of the day and drink plenty of water.

Thankfully, all of his tests have come back good. Nothing to report, just a rather standard GERD diagnosis. Maybe that funky piece of chicken just disrupted something gastrointestinal and the next few months were his stomach playing catch up. G is much more himself, except now he knows to avoid fried foods if he doesn’t want another flare-up. After years of him telling me to be careful with my stomach, it’s comforting to be able to do the same for him.

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