Sunday, December 28, 2008

Recurring Stomach Pain

Starting July 31, 2008, four months after radiation treatment ended, I had a first episode that started with stomach pain and bloating across the abdomen after playing a round of golf at SJ CC. The pain lasted across the abdomen for a number of hours, never leading to nausea but it was followed by feeling totally wiped out as if I had the flu.

The flu-like symptoms knocked me flat on my back in bed where I had a fever (up to 102), body ached and had no energy. This lasted for several days. The stomach pain gradually subsided until it became a localized pain under the belly button. On the day the symptoms began after playing golf I had eaten a whole wheat sandwich (probably turkey) and an energy bar I think.

These symptoms weren't a concern until they re-occurred about 7 weeks later following the same pattern with a slightly lower fever (probably 100). And about 6-8 weeks later they re-occurred for a third time. And then on Wednesday evening Dec 11, 2008 they re-occurred for a 4th time after playing golf at Stanford. This time I ate a dinner that started with about 5 pieces of bread from a restaurant (next to Kepler's).

After dinner the same stomach pain began. One difference in the following symptoms that occurred were that Saturday night the stomach pains for the first time intensified (always before they steadily got better). After eating almost nothing I did eat a piece of whole grain white toast which has a number of whole grains and gluten in it. The stomach pains afterwards increased, I believe as a result of being aggravated by digesting the piece of whole grain toast.

I saw Dr Scott Matthews at PAMF on Friday and he felt it was most likely a bowel obstruction and ordered a series of lab tests. All results including a gluten sensitivity test were negative (there was an elevated level of a diabetes related test for (?) with a reading of 130 versus a high normal of 90). He asked if I had had a colonoscopy exam and it turns out I had one in September that was clear.

At this point I plan to avoid all whole wheat and whole grain breads. Another problem would likely lead to a CT scan to see if something shows up in the bowel. I also will ask Dr. Hancock if the radiation could be a contributing factor. One additional factor is that I do have more gas in the system than before the radiation and that certainly could be leading to stomach pain and the boating. I'll discuss that as well.