This may sound weird but after my mom’s trouble with ulcers you’d think that it would be natural to check my dad for the bacteria that causes 90% of all ulcers: Helicobacter pylori. I wrote a blog about this a few months ago and included info about how this little factoid was discovered – and how it resulted in a Nobel Prize for Dr. Warren.
My dad reminds me in some ways of Dr. David Suzuki. I don’t mean in the seriously eco-sensitive, hosts his own TV show, has a foundation to help protect the earth way. You may not have seen the interview with him that disclosed his commitment to his physique but it left a lasting impression on me.
OK, so in that interview he told a story about how one of his daughters had a bodybuilding magazine out that she was looking at and he offhandedly mentioned that he could look like that. According to his interview, she scoffed as only a teenager could which prompted him to take up bodybuilding. He did end up looking like the guy on the cover of the magazine (see above – wow) but more to the point of my father, they showed some footage of Suzuki building a deck. He was hammering nails into the boards with the speed and accuracy of a nail gun. No fooling. And he was in his 60s at the time. Yikes and Hey – How You Doin’?
My dad believes in exercise as no one else I’ve ever known. He devises little machines and routines regularly to improve his physique. The man exercises for a living via his career in home improvements and then comes home to walk the dogs for and hour. Every day. And then proceeds to do his made-up exercises. So when he was having gastrointestinal problems that would not be cleared my mom began to worry. I was asked for some insights and gave the usual answers – watery diarrhea use activated charcoal. But if it’s an infection it should clear on its own in 7 to 10 days.
This didn’t happen. He wasn’t dehydrated. He didn’t have cramping or pains. Just this knowledge that the volume going in wasn’t reflected by the volume going out. So my next suggestion was a laxative. This did help with the volume going out. This is good but still this water problem.
Adding to my mom’s concern was that he wasn’t active. He was watching TV. Not that he never watches but he sat for more than an hour. This doesn’t happen. Ever. He was fatigued. And it wasn’t ending. Combine that with the need to use the facilities immediately after eating and that’s a combo no one wants.
Now when my mom was diagnosed with an ulcer back in 2006, I told my mom to get dad checked. They are from a part of the world (middle Europe pre-1960) where the incidence of Helicobacter pylori infectivity is super high. Did he go? Course not.
But something about these symptoms really bugged me – so I put the bee in mom’s ear and she called his doctor’s office and forced them to run the test. And finally the results are in – yup, he’s got it. So why am I relieved? There is a cure. Even though antibiotics do not work a lot of the time (like a 70% failure rate). There are natural things that can help out with clearing the bug.
Now I don’t know if my dad will be 100% after his treatment regime but if he can get back his energy and not need a washroom every time he thinks about eating – I’ll be happy.
Bottom line – you need a patient advocate. Seriously, what kind of doctor doesn’t think to check the spouse of a known ulcer patient who has tested positive for H. pylori. This isn’t rocket surgery. It’s passed through saliva and hello married people are known to kiss, share food and drinks. Not to mention the above stated likelihood of his having the bacteria due to location and conditions of his life prior to living in Canada. The patient shouldn’t need to diagnose themselves. A reminder of your individual situation no matter how difficult it may be to get your healthcare practitioner to listen, may just lead to the diagnosis you need so that you too can be on the road to recovery; like my dad.