How does it feel?
She brought her head down to her knees, mimicking my featal position as she tried to get a closer look at my misery. I was clutching at my stomach, applying as much pressure as my trembling hands could. This had worked in a few instances before, I was hoping it would work now too.
She had empathetic eyes. I could tell she really wanted to know how I felt. I don’t think she has met somebody suffering from IBS before. I don’t think she has seen a woman in Labour or a motor accident victim because she distraught. I was tempted to think she was in more pain than I was.
It feels like someone made small cuts on the insides of my stomach and is rubbing salt and vinegar into them. It feels like every breath I take will bring air into my stomach that will create another acid bubble.
It is horrible.
In these moments I think about so many things. Life and purpose. I think mean thoughts like I wish evil people in this world would get this kind of pain. I think happy thoughts like that Christmas holiday I spent being touristy and doing touristy things with my family in Jinja. But mostly, I think about what I am doing wrong. Which doctor do I see next? What is the going rate for an endoscopy lately? Are my intestines bleeding. Is my death certificate being signed right now by this facade of brevity.
I want to say it feels like scalding hot water is being run through my intestines. Like there is a band of tiny lions feasting on my intestines. Like an army of a thousand red ants are marching through my gut. Like there is a fire burning in my stomach. But I don’t. I say I’ll feel better soon and continue rubbing the left side of my tummy with my right hand. Somehow that makes me feel better. It feels like I’m consoling the rest of the organs being disturbed my this pain. Telling them “shush it will be over soon. It’s just another tantrum. You know how she is”
The journey is long. I have taken this taxi ride very day for the past 5 years but I had never really noticed how cumbersome this journey is. The omni present jam, the potholes, the traffic cops that prompt the driver to take yet another short cut through which will be dusty and bumpy. I am still in immeasurable pain!
You see I have lived through stomach aches in the past. For somebody to say they are my friend, they ought to have, at least twice, held my hand as I walked / crawled to refuge during a pain attack. But today’s is different. It feels angry. Like it is not happy about the sumptuous lunch I had or the fact that the water I drunk wasn’t tasteless enough. It feels mad. Like I shouldn’t have had that soda with lunch. Or maybe the chilli was too much. It feels angry. Like I need to stop ignoring it and run to the next highly recommended specialist who will give it the attention it desires. How can I be going home to my lovely mother who will greet me with a smile as it stays quiet and unloved in the bowels of my gut. Going home to my freshly made bed with freshly ironed sheets as it languishes in darkness and moist silence. It feels jealous that I have my perfect little life with my perfect little brain and all it has is intestines.
After all, IBS is as much psychological as it is physical. My stomach feels angry at me for living my life and ignoring it. That is why it pains.