Spilling My Guts

crossposted at BlogHer.com

It’s after midnight here in Michigan, where I am visiting with friends and family. Surrounded daily by love and attention and support.

So why am I awake and crying?

Because for many months I’ve been hiding my health issues. Ok, maybe hiding isn’t the best word. But since about …oh, last year Christmas I’ve failed to mention to you – the people whom I tell EVERYTHING- that I’ve been sick.

So tonight I’m awake and crying because yet ANOTHER symptom has appeared in this long and exhausting road of “I’m getting old and my body sucks.”

Tonight my mouth is covered in sores (sexy, I know…stay with me it gets sexier) after months of vomiting and several weeks of rectal bleeding.

Yes, I said rectal bleeding. And get used to it, because I’m going into more detail.

You see, back when I was *just* feeling sick and puking ocassionally, I didn’t bother to see my doctor. After all, I’m a puker. Two glasses of wine? Puke. Nasty smell coming from the trash? Puke. Weather turns and it’s cold and I don’t have a jacket? Puke (I’m not kidding, the cold makes me puke).

Then this started happening more and more often. Sometimes just a gag. Sometimes just in the morning like I was pregnant or something (no, I’m not) and sometimes just over-all nausea with zero puke…I thought, huh, that’s weird. Oh well.

And I went on with my normal life.

I saw many of you as I traveled, and threw up in your conference hall bathroom. I went out with many of you to dinner, and threw up in the restaurant’s toilet. I even walked down some streets with some of you after a night of fun and drinks, and threw up in a trash can while you weren’t looking.

For some reason, I thought this was fine. For some reason, I did not call my doctor. For some reason, life just went on.


I didn’t see my doctor until one day I went to the bathroom and instead of pooping a blood clot came out. Then another. And then a few more.

Then the next day it happened again. And the next day…again.

Nothing can get you calling your doctor faster than blood coming from places it shouldn’t.

It was 2 weeks before I could get an appointment, and the nice nurse said “well, you know, if it gets worse feel free to go to the ER…”

Uh, thanks.

Of course that doctor had to refer me to another doctor who had to refer me to one more. They ran the usual test. Blood work was fine. Urine was fine. And that’s when you start to think YOU are the crazy one and maybe this all just is normal and life should just go on and you should quit your bitching.

Then finally we had a test that came back abnormal.

It was a fun one. The doctor stuck his hand up my ass- the rectal exam.

That test confirmed I was bleeding. It wasn’t much to go on, but hey…at least we were getting somewhere.

From there I saw the Gastro doc, who looked at me and my chart and my tests and my symptoms for all of 3 minutes before ordering two rather invasive procedures. I didn’t argue. When you are bleeding out your ass and feeling sick, you just don’t argue.

Mind you, the soonest I get to have any of these tests done is August. Because nothing says “health care in the US sucks” like waiting 6-8 weeks for tests you could probably use yesterday.

As the weeks drag on and the tests are done and we wait for results…I still feel like crap. Of course, on again, off again feel like crap. Some days I’m puking, some I’m just quesy. Some days I’m bleeding a little, some days I’m not bleeding at all. Some days I feel fantastic and consider canceling all the tests ordered.

Then there are days like today. I just threw up in my cousin’s bathroom, put canker sore medicine in 6 different spots in my mouth, and wiped my ass to find pink and red dots.

When I finished, throat raw, mouth numb, and ass hurting…I sat down on this bed and began to cry and write.

I cry because I’m tired, and I cry because I don’t know what I’m dealing with. I cry because I’m afraid it’s something simple, like an infection or some “stress” induced illness. I cry because I’m afraid it’s something not so simple, like Celiacs or Crohn’s or Cancer. But mostly…I cry because I’m really freaking tired of feeling like crap, and I’d like that to go away now…please.

Which leads me to why I am finally blogging about this…and why I hesitated to tell you.

First of all…do many people really want to say “Hey, so…guess what…I’m sick and bleeding out my ass!!!” to the entire world? Yeah, not so much. Also, I didn’t know what to tell you. For all I know it’s all in my head and I have a bad ‘roid from pregnancy flared up and pissed off. Sarah knows what I mean, she recently blogged about having a colonoscopy and had the same hesitations I did,

“I’ve been having some strange digestive issues of late (last couple of years) and finally there’s started to be a small (very small) amount of blood so the docs want to check it out (obviously). It’s funny because no one ever talks about this subject, but once you open the door, everyone has some stories. How can one not laugh at it all though.”

But as time marches on, and more and more tests are ordered, I realize it’s been this community that tends to remind me I am not alone and that they too may have some information or knowledge to share.

Over at Post Cards from Yo Momma I found this gem:

“Dad took me to lunch afterwards. All in all, the procedure itself was a breeze. I just wish that bitch with the needle had told me how much it would burn. They did warn me I might feel light headed after the IV meds kicked in, but that turned out to be a sensation I found surprisingly enjoyable. I bet my hiney was the cutest one all day.”

I bet my hiney is cute too!

I also bet it won’t be the one shaking it’s ass ontop of a table at BlogHer.

Yes, this means at BlogHer ’09 in Chicago I won’t need to hide. I won’t try to quietly puke in the bathroom if I need too, and I won’t need to explain to you why I may or may not be having that 2nd glass of wine. If I get up at lunch or dinner or breakfast and excuse myself I can actually say “I don’t feel well” not “I have a phone call, let me take it outside.” It will be nice to NOT hide.

Which means from here on out you get to join me in my journey. It might be too much to hear…I mean, really- who WANTS to know that much about my ass and my bowels? Or it may be just what was needed, because you too have had similar symptoms or you too know someone also undergoing some tests.

On August 4th I’ll be sedated and doctors will drop a camera down my throat and into my stomach to look around.

On August 11th I’ll be sedated and a colonoscopy will be performed.

And I’m going to tell you ALLLLL about it. From the prep to the diagnosis and all the whining and complaining I will do in between (because you know I will).

In a few weeks I will blog my endoscopy. Then I will blog the prep for my colonoscopy (which, dude…clear liquids, enemas, drinking gallons of some crappy mixture..all accounts indicate it’s hell) and then the procedure itself.

By the end I hope to have some answers, and if not…at least I’ll have you.

Other bloggers talking stomachs, butts, and gastro excitement:

Fatty Kathy’s Weight Loss

KMae Today

Tears N Tantrums

Celiac Chicks

Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog


  1. Wow, does this ever dredge up some stuff for me. This was me six years ago. I’m so sorry. I know the waiting is the hardest part. Email me if you need to to talk to someone that’s been there.

  2. It would have seemed so unnatural for you not to share this…I’m glad you did. My cupcake heart has taught me to be at once patient and proactive. I hope you’ll continue to share this journey. Feel better….

  3. Hugs to you Erin and all the best for all your procedures. And sharing this journey is a great idea–for you and probably many other women out there who are too scared to share this kind of thing with anyone.

  4. It’s after 3am on your coast and I am sitting in bed reading your blog and crying. Crying because you feel comfortable enough to share with the world your pain and your fear. When I was barely comfortable enough to share symptoms similiar to yours with even my family.
    I lost 40 pounds in just under a month a few years back and while the Estranged thought that was a wonderful thing, I knew the blood shooting out of my ass proved a different story.
    The Colonoscopy is, well, for lack of a better word, let’s just say it is Interesting. The prep is the godawfulest worsetest thing, but the sedation is nice.
    I get home on the 3rd, please know I am at your disposal for rides or babysitting, or hand holding.

  5. I hope you get some answers that help. Good luck.

  6. We will all be thinking of you as you allow us to share your journey. God bless.

  7. Well that’s just all very awful. I’m sorry you’ve been suffering with this for so long but glad you’ve decided to let people in to help you. Get better soon xo

  8. I’m so sorry that you’ve been feeling so sick. And I’m just stunned that when your doctor heard that you had rectal bleeding, they still wouldn’t give you an appointment right away. What gets you an appointment right away these days–a stigmata?

    I wish you the very best and I’ll be reading and sending good thoughts.

    I had a colonoscopy and the prep work is interesting. I’ll walk you through it, I have good tips that I got from my mom.. Yes, intergenerational colonoscopy prep tips. What could be more wholesome?

    Can’t wait to meet you at BlogHer. xo

  9. i hope you feel better soon and that you find out what’s going on. Best wishes-

  10. i’m glad you shared – you should be able to – and when dealing with puking and bleeding, really, sharing on your blog should not be a concern. i’m so sorry you are going through it and hope that you get some answers very very soon.

  11. Oh buddy, I’m so sorry. I really pray that it’s something manageable. I’m here, always.

  12. Thanks everyone.

    Adrienne if you need help I’m here too? Friends that puke and bleed together…err…something something something…

  13. Hoping for the best and that only normal things start coming out of your ass very soon!

  14. Oh E, I am SO sorry to hear about this but I am really glad you are out with it now. It’s one thing to be freaked over the uncertainty of what the hell is going on with your body, and it’s another thing to have to try to hide it from people, especially at a huge conference where, well, there would be a lot of people to have to hide it from. The latter just adds another layer of stress and exhaustion when you just need to rally whatever resources you have to help your body along.

    Will be keeping my body parts crossed for some answers and healing soon. -Christine

  15. thoughts and prayers and hugs flying across the digital world to you!

  16. I’m so sorry and also so glad that you shared. Another couple of bloggers that I love have been writing very candidly about their health issues. Amy, my BlogHer roomie has been writing about her anxiety disorder http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com/2009/06/11/my-road-to-recovery-from-generalized-anxiety-disorder/. Jenn from bitsofmyself has been writing about her experiences with hodgkins lymphoma http://bitsofmyself.com/. They are both very brave women and deserving of the support and understanding of those that care about them, as are you.

  17. ((Hugs)) to you. Hoping you get answers and if you don’t , move on to the next doctor until you do.

  18. I’m glad you finally called the doctor! Damn. I call the doctor for a hangnail, because there’s always a chance they’ll give you a prescription for vicodin.

    I hope everything turns out fine. I’m thinking of you.

  19. I’m so sorry you are feeling so miserable. And the waiting really gets to you, doesn’t it? I hate waiting to find you just what.the.hell.

    I hope it’s something manageable that can be handled easily. And while we don’t know each other, I’m definitely part of the blogging community that will be here to read, listen and support you.

    I’m still looking forward to meeting you IRL at BlogHer!

  20. Ugh, how horrible!!! I’m glad you shared and will continue to…I’m
    sure your words will help others out there as well!

  21. Oh, sweetie. I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this. *huggles* I hope the tests next month will find what is wrong and that it is an easy fix *crosses fingers*

  22. ooooh vicodin…why didn’t I think of that???!!!!

  23. Oh, I am so sorry. I am the praying type and will be sending up oodles for you.


  24. divrchk says:

    Oh my, Erin! Take care of yourself. I hope that they figure out what’s going on and that the doctors can make you better.

  25. captaintee says:

    First of all I’m so sorry you’re going through this crap. And it sounds like you did it alone for so long….that’s just wrong.
    Secondly, it’s fantastic that you shared this. Not only to finally get it off your chest, but to inform anyone else out there who might now be, or in the furture be, going through the same type of thing. It could have to do with such a wide spectrum of so many things, so don’t fret yet. You’re dealing with it now, and that’s what it is important. You will have your answers. For now, do the best you can with what you got! And make sure, no matter what, that you have a god damn good time at BlogHer!!!!
    Keep your chin up. Big hug.

  26. Oh Erin.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    I will be here, each step for the way with encouraging words and offers of support.

    You’re in my thoughts!!

  27. Real quick comment – then more later. Lysine supplement has had a 100% cure rate for any kind of mouth issues at our house. For real. For the last 10 years!

  28. What’s lysine supplement? A pill? a drink? help me out here I’m a neewb

  29. I’m not sure what I can say to comfort you right now. There was a string of expletives that left my mouth just now because I’m pissed you have to go through this and I’m also sorry for my friend. And now that I know, yes, I will treat you differently when I see you next week. I will treat you tenderly. I will give you whatever it is you need.


  30. I think you’re awesome for sharing that. More than awesome actually. While I don’t know what it’s like to go through what you’re going through, I will be here as you share this journey. I’ll read what you have to say and support you along the way. And I’ll be thinking of you and hoping that it does turn out to be just stress or something simple so we can all laugh together about it later on while toasting to your good health! (at BlogHer ’10)

  31. I agree with others: you share nearly everything with us – it seems so natural for you to share this too. Thank you for the honor of being considered part of your community.

    You are in the medical holding pattern. When things are good, you can think- I have this to enjoy and to strengthen me in the future. When you are not feeling well, you can count the days until the tests hopefully offer an answer.

    Lean on those creating memories…

  32. erin, i’m so sorry you’re so sick & am amazed that you are comfortable sharing all the in & outs (i couldn’t stop myself) with us.

    and, no, marinka, i had a stigmata once & it took 3 months to get in!

  33. I kinda would rather have a stigmata

  34. Lysine is a protein supplement and helps a lot with cold sores, can’t hurt (although check with your doctor, I guess?!)- our vet even told us to give some to our cat.
    And thanks for sharing, this is really important to get out there, because I think lots of our brains go into total denial when stuff is going on in our bodies! I know I ignored my health issues back when I was sick, until finally something clicks and you go “hey, dumb ass, see your dr!” And I think it’s outrageous you have to wait so long when you’re bleeding out your ass. WTF, they should be seeing you immediately and doing tests asap. Our health care system has BIG problems.

  35. I’m so sorry. I have celiac and remember how terrifying everything preceding the diagnosis was – the symptoms, the tests, the waiting, the further rounds of tests. Sending you all good thoughts for peaceful waiting, easy tests, and good results with a simple fix.

    And, may I suggest you ask your GE (or anesthesiologist) for something called Propofol for your colonoscopy. The usual knock-out cocktail isn’t always strong enough for everyone (it wasn’t for me) but the Propofol ensures you’ll be totally OUT.

  36. I’m so sorry! This sounds so scary to be going through. (((HUGS))) I hope all the tests come bacvk that it’s something simple and easily fixed.

  37. Your usual candor makes this post all the more impactful. It’s difficult to grapple with your own emotions when you’re faced with a mysterious condition (to say nothing of a bumbling health care system), but to lay them bare on the page is nothing short of heroic.

    About a decade ago I suffered through a similar situation, severe abdominal pain, bloody stool, etc etc. After repeated doctor visits and tests I was nearly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The colonoscopy was the one thing that flew in the face of that.

    I’m “lucky” — I *only* have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which was *only* comforting in knowing that I didn’t have something far more chronic and possibly life-threatening.

    I hope that you’ll be lucky, too, and that this turns out to be something transient, or at least manageable. The human body is a mysterious thing, and even competent doctors don’t know it all. I learned, the hard way, that my condition is pretty much 100% stress-induced, and learned ways to manage that. No matter how you get there, I hope you find the light at the end of your tunnel (er, no pun intended).

  38. My best friend has Crohn’s, not fun but so much better once they finally got her all diagnosed and started treatment.

    On the bright side, if it is IBS, you never have to wait in line at Disneyland EVER AGAIN. Just go up the back way and tell them you have IBS, the 17 year old will be horrified, and you can cut line!! Win-Win. 🙂

    Feel better!

  39. So sorry you’re going through all this, but I’m sure it will help to have so many supporters in the know.

    As an endoscopy veteran (two so far, thanks GERD!), I can tell you that it’s no biggie. My husband had his first routine colonoscopy last year and everyone is right on target about the “interesting” prep. I got the impression that the procedure itself wasn’t so bad, though.

    Hope you’re better soon!

  40. Felicia says:


    Thanks for sharing your story and remember that you have lots of people who care about you. Even if some of us haven’t meet you in person. You are amazing and very loved.

  41. (((hugs))) Glad you shared this. Of course, don’t hesitate to let us know what we can do.

  42. Having been through this for 6+ months last year, you know I can empathize with you. I am no Dr, so my insights and opinions count for little, but I am wondering if you have had any mri or other scans of your gut? When they did my sigmoidoscopy (like the colonoscopy but not as far up there) we found out that I had diverticulosis which seemingly got infected by that damn parasite my wife helped me get during our wedding in mexico (love you hunny) which then likely seeped the ecoli (or some other nasty bacteria) into my prostate… oh joy!

    They told me it was IBS for months, which as you know now is basically the Dr saying, uh, we dont know what it really is, so here is something general that we really cant treat and you have to live with… bastards. IBS is a cop out – while the pain and suffering is real, the scientists cant get to a root cause.

    So you know, I also went through a period of morning nausea and almost puking (but I apparently never quite enjoyed it as much as you) – the good news, is here I am pretending like that never happened, having gained back 80% of the weight I lost and back to enjoying the good things in life like too much wine, too little inhibition and foods that are way to rich to be enjoying. My bm’s arent normal yet 1+ yr on, but its a minor inconvenience – if only I could get past that ‘senior citizen’ image in my head and take the damn Metamucil, I might be better in that regards, but hey, I am not even 40 yet (well at least not for another 5 weeks 🙂

    So very sorry to hear you are going through this – do call me any time to rant, to cry, to ask question, or whatever else, you know where to find me.

  43. I’m so very sorry to hear you’re going through this too – you’re so busy, I’m glad you finally told us, and I’m glad you finally decided to have things investigated.

    Also, I’ll be having an endoscopy pretty soon too. Yours is before mine (I can’t even get into the dr. before September!), and I haven’t blogged about my latest issues either. Maybe I should too. I’ll be reading you, though, to see what I Have to look forward to. Hugs.

  44. Enormous hugs. I hope they find out what it is as soon as possible, and that it is easily treatable.

    I have been known to hide mysterious health issues from the internet, too. It’s hard to talk about feeling ill when you don’t know what is going on — no one wants to sound like a hypochondriac. But I think it’s very good that you are talking about this. I love you, woman. Don’t let the doctors brush you off. The world needs you around, and writing.

  45. Sorry to double-dip in the comments but Chris’s comment reminded me of one other thing. Sounds like you (at least in this situation) are like many women who spend so much effort taking care of your family that you don’t necessarily take care of yourself. Just a friendly reminder that you MUST be your best advocate when it comes to health care. Regardless of whether a doctor is a genius or an idiot, has a great bedside manner or a lousy one, they cannot feel what you’re feeling. If something isn’t right, yell, bitch and scream until you’re confident that you’re being listened to.
    *steps off soap box*

  46. You are SUCH an amazing REAL woman. I hope it’s something small and easily taken care of. I will keep you in my thoughts.

  47. Taking my time and processing what everyone is saying here. I can’t believe the stories and the “me too!”s and all the support.

    Thank you all. Truly

  48. I have colon cancer in my family and have had irritable bowel my whole life. I’ve had two colonoscopies and they really weren’t “that” bad, which is relative of course.

    I’ll keep good thoughts for you.

  49. I have no “Me, too!” stories, and I’m tempted to apologize for that for some reason, but I won’t, because that seems dumb, to apologize for not having had digestive problems… This comment is not going the way I’d planned.

    What I meant to say was that even though I don’t have a “Me, too!” story, I’m really glad you’re sharing and I think you’re amazing and I love you. Yes, that was more what I meant to say.

  50. Are you serious? 6-8 weeks waiting period for these tests? This is a crime. The more I hear about the reality of US healthcare, the more I’m disgusted. You’re absolutely correct that you should get these tests done yesterday. I moved to the US from Germany 14 years ago and even though people love to call the European healthcare system ‘socialist’, nobody has to wait that long. I’m not the praying type but my thoughts are with you. I’ve had quite a few endoscopies done before, even without sedation, no biggie. I heard many times that the fear of colonoscopies is worse than the procedure itself. Stay strong.

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