Did the barium test on the stomach and upper GI system today... walk it off, walk it off

For those of you that have never done the barium x-ray series on the stomach and upper GI tract it is unpleasant. What makes it unpleasant is the barium itself, a white, radio-opaque powder, used to light up the digestive system to show up on the x-rays. I have had the stomach one twice in the past. I believe they were looking for ulcers... which i found odd at the time because the symptoms I had would suggest the ulcers I had gotten from NSAIDs, or damage from them, was in the large intestines but whatever. I suppose they wanted to rule it out. Point is I have had experience with the first part of the test... the stomach version, which is shorter.

Now, barium shakes taste like chalk. I have never eaten chalk before but that has to be what it tastes like. Like a thick paste. It is revolting. That is the first aspect of this test that is a problem. The stuff is nasty.

When I had first taken the barium stomach test it actually was worse than it is now. I had been put on a tilt table that kept moving and rotating to keep getting the right angle on my stomach for images. I had to drink a huge glass off the thick barium shake. I believe because back then they did not have other ways to help with coverage. Or that specific time they had a specific purpose for that method. So more was better. But when you have issues with nausea more is not better when being moved around on a table. I really felt sick and actually saw my stomach move like a fist clenching as I tried not to throw up. But that was then. Now they have you change positions a few times, but no rotating table. And they make you eat... pop rocks? I don't know what they are but they are basically fizz machines that create gas. So you eat them, swallow the barium and down the hatch it goes. Stomach expands, barium coats. Then you take another couple big gulps of the goo and you are good to go. Not nearly as bad as it used to be back in the day.

It would not have been a big deal if it had ended there. Some discomfort but not an issue.

The upper GI tract test is longer. What they wanted to do is time how long it takes for the barium to get from the stomach through the upper digestive tract. They say you have up to two hours for the test. With my digestive system I was estimating far less than that. In this case, you get a thinner barium shake and a massive glass of it. It was disconcerting they wanted me to not only drink all of that, without throwing it up, but not just drink it... chug it. You see, you need to down it fast, to get it going through at around the same pace. So I did. And it was extremely disgusting. I think I really could go on one of those reality TV shows and eat bugs at this point given my amazing control. Then you are instructed to walk about for half an hour so they can take an image.

Here is where the issue starts. Ever down a bottle of water and then go run? Me neither because it causes a cramp. This is more like swallowing a brick and trying to 'walk it off'. You have the thick barium in there, the gas bloating issue which is causing pain and discomfort and too much liquid that is heaving just sitting like a rock in your gut... and told to walk for half an hour. Ooh walk it off, walk it off. Look like an idiot in your hospital gown and robe pacing a track down the halls. One young man eyed me up. I was like seriously? What, are my calves totally sexy in this gown? Or you just giving me the full body check out because I am pacing around in a damned gown and robe. I was less than pleased with his rather obvious look over. So I didn't walk in the more populated areas after that. There was another fellow waiting for a friend and he was walking about as well. He said to me 'Must get tired of pacing the same track.' because at that point I was going up the hall, down the hall, up the hall, down the hall. Made me smile. I replied, 'Just doing my time.' I was actually joking around with a few people in the sitting room... because let's be honest no one likes the barium test and a few were familiar with it. It is really like with IBS eating something that did not agree with you, eating too much of it, but not being able to sit down for it to settle... you really do not feel well at all.

So I go and get the picture taken and turns out that wasn't good. So had to walk some more. Half an hour later, still no good. Half an hour later, Still no good. So at the hour and a half nothing. This is odd for me but then again the barium wasn't agreeing with me at all. So they come out with Another Full glass of that barium and ask me to chug that to 'move things along'. I was like 'oh no, how can I possibly fit this in my stomach and not have it revolt on me.'  I did it but I felt quite a bit worse. However, half an hour later it was finally good. So literally took the longest amount of time for that test. I thought I was never going to get out of there. Also decided I was not going to eat that day as I was really, really full. I did eat of course, but not pleased about it.

Now here is the real ironic part. I think my digestive system was really mocking me. They told me 'drink lots of water for the next few days' because barium can cause constipation. The moment I get into the car my abdomen 'gurgles' and then some more. And I think you know if you have IBS that means one thing. When I got home lets just say I think most of the barium is gone. So went from really slow to hyper speed, but they didn't get the hyper speed part which was the whole damn point of the test. Anyway, I still have abdominal discomfort which tells me I still have some of the stuff in me which likely will cause some problems but I did get rid of a lot of it so there is that. I do think this sort of demonstrates that this is IBS and not something else. Because of these sudden flares, which while frequent, suggest without them there is no other issue there. But that is really the point of doing these tests. Other things were never ruled out, so I have to do all the tests that should have been done years and years ago just to determine it is in fact IBS and not another condition.

My mom gave me a lift to the hospital for the test even though it is a short drive and I had thought maybe I could drive myself. I don't know why I think these things though. I got a massive migraine while there. And that 'walking about' triggered vertigo. This was disappointing to me that the vertigo could be triggered just by me moving around. Towards the end there I was having troubles walking straight and was getting disorientated but I could not stop the walking obviously. That really compounded my misery; having such an acute migraine and then the vertigo kicking in on top of all that abdominal discomfort. It was a pretty horrible feeling in that first half hour to start to feel the floor tilting and knowing just moving around was causing that damned vertigo to kick in... and there was nothing I could do about it. Since it kicked in it stuck around. I could not even stand to cook supper, the floor kept shifting even when I was just still.

Anyway next on the list is some blood work to test for food allergies, including lactose intolerance. Then... a colonoscopy. Joyness. That is that for the digestive tests I hope. I hope then mystery will be solved. I did tell the specialist my doc sent me to that I 'might' have a lactose 'sensitivity' since somewhere in my early twenties my digestive system decided to disagree with milk. So I stopped drinking it and rarely have cereal... and regret having cereal when I do. But I don't know if that makes me lactose intolerant per sa. Guess we shall see.

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