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Cyclic vomiting update. written in the hospital and updated later.

Quick clarification: I started writing this October 6th but have just posted it last night. I apologize this wasn’t made clear. We’re home now and getting back to life. It’s my oversight and sorry for the confusion.

*I wrote a big chunk of this post Wednesday night in the hospital once I got my computer from home. I didn’t get to finish it in that sitting and it’s been on and off editing since then. This post turned out longer than I thought; could’ve been made into two posts. Also, I feel like I talked too much about me growing up and my faith. If it’s too boring or long, please feel free to read bits and pieces or just look at the pictures. Thanks everyone for stopping by and for your time!!

I didn’t know a medical entity like abdominal migraine or cyclic vomiting existed until Ellis ended up in the hospital with it. The first time was in fall 2017 and after a sleuth of tests, doctors diagnosed it as abdominal migraine, and it’s now also called cyclic vomiting. This is her 6th episode/ hospitalization since then.

It’s like a migraine headache except the throbbing pain happens in the stomach with cramps and bursts of nausea. All that throwing up leads to an acidic stomach, sore throat, dehydration, lethargy, and retching.

Research shows that kids, younger than 10 years old, tend to be most affected by it: they are also prone to developing migraines as adults. The period of sickness can range from a day to 10 days, but mix in a preexisting health condition and the situation gets more worrisome. The teen years are when the cyclic vomiting peaks. The GI doctor said that he saw kids get sick with it on their birthdays or first day of school.

I’ve been told that cyclic v. can be managed if you know and can prevent the triggers. That’s the tricky part. You can only know them after several of the episodes have passed and have thought about the past triggers: certain foods, indigestion, stress, tiredness, anxiety, excitement, etc.

On the third day of hospitalization, genetic counselors came to talk with me about migraines in our family history, Ellis’ episodes, and analyzing Ellis’ blood tests results. I had no idea who these people were and had little interest, but since the talking lulled sleep-deprived Ellis to sleep I felt more motivated to chat. (this selfish heart of mine!) So ok, let’s talk. It could be a genetic condition and if they can find some markers in the blood work, metabolic and acid base (more was discussed but that’s all I can recall now). 

I thought my family history was straightforward. I have migraines, sometimes so bad that it makes me throw up. In my tweens, I’d wake up Christmas mornings nauseated and spend the rest of the day throwing up until it would suddenly stop. My only rational explanation was indigestion and eating too much the night before. But now I wonder how I could’ve just assumed that my gut would equate Christmas Day with indigestion. To me, everything was indigestion.

But something other than indigestion came into factor when I was in college and graduate school. I had throwing up episodes that were bad enough to call 911 (in CA.). In nyc, I’d get headaches that made me retch until I feared my brain would implode. One semester in late fall, I took a cab (big deal for a student living on a budget) to the er (waited 4 hours in the waiting room) and left without being seen by a doctor. The symptoms slowly went away. Again I blamed it on indigestion caused by too much anxiety about writing papers, graduation fears, vague future plans, family pressure, poor eating habits, or the occasional pangs of having had too much to drink.

Even though that latter trigger was not stress related, it probably led to worse hangover episodes since I was already prone to excessive vomiting. Back then I thought I could do much more than I really could. I’m more realistic now. My memory conveniently blocked all the different episodes out of my mind until the genetic talk with doctors this afternoon. So I guess…she gets it from me? That’s a whole other issue.

Anyways, this is our 4th day in the hospital: it’s been constant vomiting, abdominal pain, retching, no interest in eating or drinking; physical weakness. I miss her endless chatter, funny hand gestures to make her point, and surprise hugs where she hangs on the back of my shoulders like a monkey.

Doctors encouraged us to go out for walks and fresh air since that would distract from the nausea. I fluffed up the wheelchair with pillows and blankets so she could nap comfortably during the ride. It was magic, but once we got back to the room, retching all over again. This meant lots of walks; my knees were not happy about this.  

It’s startling to see how this sickness turns my sweet little Ellis into a prickly small being. When I mention kinds of foods that she may want to eat, she throws me a death stare. I sit too close to her and she says I have bad breath. Ouch. When I break into song and dance to cheer her up, she shakes her head no in disapproval. 

But when she needs a comforting hug or an outdoor stroll, she points and I am right there (so to speak) ready to comfort her. No matter what she said or the cranky attitude. This is the light bulb moment. Isn’t this how God thinks about me? Except He’s a God of perfect, constant, and unconditional love.  

God is everywhere and I believe He has been sending us mercies and blessings throughout these hospital stays. It’s not only a hospital for the body but a metaphorical hospital for the soul as well.

In this mess, I see how God blesses us through the kindness of friends, family, and others; it’s humbling to be on the receiving end of help. I’ve never been a graceful receiver. I don’t want to learn; that means I need to receive something from someone else to help me. No thank you. (Arms crossed, lips pursed, head shaking)

Unexpected food deliveries from friends, early morning texts, and so random but not so random (considering how personal God is) gift from a friend. My much-loved but worn Converse sneakers were getting uncomfortable as I had to bend down the back for easy take on and off. I asked Chris to bring my sneakers to the hospital the next day, but he forgot to give them to me and I forgot to ask about them that evening. So hospital shoes were definitely on my shopping list after discharge. My Converse will have to work overtime.

But the next afternoon, a friend texted to tell me that she dropped off lunch at hospital lobby. I couldn’t miss the bag since my name was written in colored marker with a big heart drawn on it. A smaller paper bag peeked out of the large tote. This was unbelievable because I had not said anything to anyone about shoes. She got me black Crocs with fuzzy lining and a note that she felt these would make caretaking easier. Thanks D, so grateful for u!

How does God time it like that, in such a specific way? God worked in the heart of my friend to answer a prayer I didn’t even pray. God amazes me with this personal touch.

It’s super uncomfortable but He’s doing much-needed construction work inside my heart. Every hardship is an opportunity to see God doing His work through His impeccable timing, personalized help, time to dwell on some uncomfortable truths about myself, realization for the need to confess daily, reminders of how much I’m loved, remember that each person has their own struggles, and to be a be a positive light to those around me.

But in all honesty, I’m a flickering light.  

I hope recovery is underway, which means holding down food and liquids, no more abdominal cramping, recover more energy and interest, say more than 3 words a day (usually, can’t stop the chatterbox), and get hungry. I hope this hospital stay helps us to understand this condition and learn how to manage it at home. We cannot keep doing this.

At the moment, our sleeping area is infused with mint oil; it could quell nausea for some. The other time it was alcohol wipes. I think it’s working because Ellis has drifted off to sleep and has not woken up in hours with pain or retching.

Entering Day 4…let’s go home early by Day 5! That’s our goal. She’s continuing to sleep throughout the night. Good sign.

Thank you everyone for your prayers, encouragement, and concern!

Categories: Faith journey Hospital visits Mom lIfe Personal growth

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Welcome to my blog! My name is Esther and I'm so happy you are here. I'm an avid nature photographer and a daydreaming thinker. My posts revolve around photos of nature's beauty, homeschooling adventures with my 2 kids, sporadic reflections on my child's heart condition, Bible reading reflections, gardening feats, and other mish mash things. Hopefully you'll leave encouraged, pensive, or smiling at the simple things of life. Thank you for stopping by and hope you'll find some interesting posts to read!

17 replies

  1. Getting those crocs at that time was so cool! And I really do love how God always provides –
    Sometimes without any asking -“Jehovah jireh – my provider”
    And prayers for Ellis and all of you and pray for wisdom for the docs in their problem solving


    1. God provides in the most amazing way…I was blown away with its timing and specificity. He walks with us even through the valleys, although I’d rather not be there.
      We’re working on learning its triggers. Thanks Yvette for your sweet thoughts and prayers!
      Have a great start to a new week and happy mid October.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cee for your kind thoughts and energy! The whole ordeal was exhausting and unnerving that one hospitalization led to another so quickly. We’re settling back into homeschooling life and trying to make the most of this month and the last few months left of this year.
      Hope you are doing well and staying healthy. What a crazy year and a half it’s been.


  2. Dear Esther: Hugs and kisses sent your way. Rest when you can; continue praying and do not worry. Worrying does not solve anything and creates more anxiety and frustration. Let’s hope she will be home soon. From personal experience, take the helping hand, learn the lesson; if not, you will find yourself in similar circumstances trying to teach you the lesson again. I finally learned to say yes when help is offered. Try peppermint or mint tea first. The research does show they do help with GI issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Erly! It’s been quite the experience again with this vomiting. Once the cycle starts, it keeps going. Doctors prescribed new medication and staying vigilant to triggers should prevent future occurrences. I hope so!! It’s hard on all of us, although Ellis has it worst.
      I’m learning, very slowly, to accept help and to accept my limitations. It’s a self defeating process to think I need to do it all, which is obviously impossible to do. I’m glad you learned to take the help when you need it. Love your bright attitude and smiles.
      We miss you and Ellis remembers you. You’re awesome and so blessed to have met you. Stay safe and healthy!! hugs


  3. Sorry that Ellis’s progress is not as speedy as you would like to. It seemed to make sense going out for a walk helps but I know it was hard for your knees. Continue to pray for Ellis and her recovery. Take care of yourself, Esther.


    1. Hi Miriam, thanks for your sweet message and prayers! I don’t think I was clear on the dates. We’ve been home for 2 weeks. The post was written at the hospital when we were there but I didn’t get a chance to finish it. So I cleaned it up, added more content, and published it.
      Sorry for the confusion!
      Ellis is doing much better since we’ve been home. Keeping vigilant to triggers. In this process, I’m inevitably learning lots about medications, conditions, remedies, and other things.
      Have a great Wednesday and stay dry! Seems we’re finally going to see some drought relief.


      1. I learned about many drugs and the side effects throughout the years, Esther. I’m even cautious about some over the counters drugs because I had a terrible months long condition that ended up on the hospital. I don’t take cough meds any more because they have that ingredient. We just have to learn about our bodies as time goes. Good to hear Ellis is going well. Have a wonderful weekend. 😊


      2. I hear you. Drugs come with benefits but the side effects can be harmful as well. Oh no, I almost missed your part of the comment about hospitalization from a bad side medication side effect. I’d be wary too!! Thank God you know what that ingredient is and you know its effects on you. Maybe you take supplements for immune boost and cold prevention. My MIL is a firm believer of Vitamin C and Echinacea. It works for her!!


  4. How nice of your friend to bring the comfy crocs and food to entice both of you, especially Ellis, to eat. I read everything and that’s fascinating that the genetics experts would think your many bouts of nausea, vomiting, etc. suffered your entire life would possibly be passed down to Ellis … I thought all along, it was something to do with her heart. I likewise only associated migraines with bad headaches where one must rest in complete darkness once the onset of a migraine began. I’m amazed your migraines were so severe – I’ve known one person with severe headaches, not migraines, but “cluster headaches” and she left the workplace so I don’t know if her treatments worked. She blamed them on stress, her accounting job, plus taking classes at night to complete a degree. She was to undergo treatment at the University of Michigan. This was in the early 90s. So you don’t know the specific triggers for Ellis’ distress then – too many factors to narrow down to just one to try to eliminate it? If they can “pipe in” soothing smells, could you use them at your home as well – for example, many people sleep with lavender oil sprinkled near a pillow or a lavender sachet tucked beneath it, saying it helps them to drift off to sleep quickly? Thanks for enlightening all of us about this medical issue.


    1. When Ellis looks like nausea is about to hit, the mint smells come out. I kind of went crazy on the first try and my fingers smelled like I had soaked them in Icebreaker mints. Smell of alcohol wipes quell nausea too, just fan the wipe hear your nose.
      Another helpful thing for nausea is eating ginger chew candies. They’re very hard, sticky, and has a spicy aftertaste; but it helps. I learned a lot about nausea control this past month.
      I’ve heard about “cluster headaches” too. When I first heard about abdominal migraine, Chris and I just looked at each other. Is there such a diagnosis?! The first time this happened she had to undergo lists of diagnostics and heart cath to make sure her heart was well. It’s saved us a lot of pain and time in knowing she sporadically gets this.
      Thinking back on how I felt during my migraine bouts helped me to commiserate with her pain but it wasn’t easy seeing her so weak. She’s a small but mighty warrior.
      Thank you for always sending us kind comments and encouragement!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s interesting – the various smells or the ginger chewy candies would be the equivalent of carrying around smelling salts for reviving someone who fainted. Ellis is a pro – I think she shows you she’s a warrior to make it easier on you and Chris. “I’ve got this Mom!” You are welcome. Always happy to bolster your sagging spirits – you have a lot going on.


      2. Oh right…the smelling salts. I vaguely remember old pictures or movies where the glass vial of smells is put under the nose of the fainting victim.
        The ginger chews are chewy and hard, so you got to take precaution.
        Thank you for your encouragement and acknowledgement that I do have a lot going on. In my bubble, my life seems like the norm and I wonder why I’m so tired. But when I look out I see that our situation is very different and what others see as minor is major to us. God gave me a hard assignment but it comes with lots of sweet hugs and kisses.


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