I woke up on Friday at 6:30 without my alarm.
On any other weekday I’ll be thrilled for this god-send of an early rise, likely to deliver me into my cube an hour early.
Except, I had off on Friday. And, I had awoken not because I was well-rested. No. No, not because of streaming sunlight interrupting my quiet repose, either.
I awoke because of the pain.
It was an unspecific, fuzzy ache even with the very bottom of my sternum. I generally have a high tolerance for specific pain and a low tolerance for general discomfort, and this split the two uncannily well.
Probably a stomach thing, I thought. I had overeaten to the maximum limit the day before … four donuts, three sections of tuna hoagie, two veggie burger pitas, and one delightfully large dose of peanut butter before bed. Probably all of the eating.
I walked around for a few minutes, checked WebMD but grew frustrated with its persistent braying about the possibility I was in cardiac arrest, and went back to bed.
I got up again at 7:28.
This time the pain was much more insistent, and it had no intentions of letting me sleep in. Or, really, of letting me sleep at all. Or do anything else for that matter, including walking outside or singing or going out to dinner – all things I might like to do on my day off.
Yes, insistent it was, and persistent too. I would up beached on the couch for the majority of the day, sitting alone and miserable while Elise headed out for the night rather than going to dinner at Striped Bass as we had plan. The pain was omni-present but far enough below my threshold that I would feel patently silly going to the ER to do anything about it. How could one day of overeating – three-fourths of which was entirely healthy and non-toxic – cause all this misery?
It wasn’t until the next morning that I finally put two and two together by stepping back further from my donut binge.
You see, prior to the donuts I had my typical fistful (600? 1200? really, who can say?) of ibuprofen on an empty stomach. Well, not entirely empty, because the evening before I had another typical fistful before bed.
That prior fistful wasn’t on an empty stomach, though. It was on a veggie burger and a number of beers.
I had an uncharacteristic mid-week night out to scout out Just Like Me at the Khyber on the behalf of Lyndzapalooza, and afterwards the already uncharacteristic night turned super-unusual when I wound up having a bit of a guys hour with two friends from my former a cappella life. Between the Khyber and our eventual visit to my official designated spring/summer bar, National Mechanics, I had a fair number of beers.
(This doesn’t really figure into the story, but I saw another terrific band – Parker House & Theory – who I have a major crush on at the moment. Their CD release is this Thursday in Boston. I’ll maybe remember to post about them separately, but we all know how those promises go, so best to mention them here.)
Now, mind you, this was still a work night, so I had been cautious – those beers were ingested over the course of several hours, and I did a bit of dancing and walking in that time, so by the time I got home I was only slightly inebriated, and with plenty of time to sleep prior to work. Still – mindful that I am typically a cocktail drinker and hoping to having a productive morning at work – I took that first typical fistful of ibuprofen as a preemptive strike on any possible morning fuzziness. When I awoke said fuzziness was nowhere to be found, but I took another fistful just to be sure (and, as it happens, had quite a upbeat day at the office).
Now, I’m not too much up on my general medical diagnoses – last time I was in the hospital I was convinced my appendix was exploding, but I in fact had an irritated bowel. However, even with my basic knowledge I know that alcohol, NSAIDs on empty stomachs, and sugary sweets can all contribute to an ulcer and, as it happens, I had ingested slightly higher than average quantities of all three in exactly that order .
Yes, it was certainly an ulcer.
With a better-than-dubious home diagnosis in place Saturday and today proved to be much more pleasant than their predecessor. I loaded up on medical and homeopathic remedies, and my stomach has been converted from thunderdome to a plush, well-lined (though sparsely furnished) bachelor pad.
For the record, to achieve that you want to stick exclusively to my personal variation on the Bananas, Rice, Apples, Toast diet (BRAT) – which omits apples and fulfills the rice requirement with a combination of sushi and Rice Dream ice cream – all while ingesting some combination of OTC Prilosec, Evening Primrose Oil, and Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL), the latter of which has perhaps the highest foul-taste to efficaciousness ratio I’ve ever encountered in my life.
(Seriously, it tastes like black licorice blended with mashed up aspirin and garden soil. Its label cheerfully suggests “it’s chewable, because saliva enhances the effect of DGL’s natural compounds,” which is worth pointing out because chewing it up and swishing it around in your mouth goes strictly against your natural impulse, which is that it is poison and will surely kill you. But, truthfully, it knocks out any flare of symptoms in about ten minutes flat.)
In any event, I feel fine now, except for I feel like I was in a time warp for the last 72 hours, and that rather than heading to work in the morning I should just now be gearing up for my glorious Friday off from work.
On the plus side, I can now add “cultivating an ulcer” to the list of things I am really good at doing without even trying.