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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
 
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Stress ulcers?

Early on in October I got to spend a few days in the ICU when an ulcer ate through an artery in my stomach. I bled out more than half the blood in my body within 15 minutes and had to get the artery cauterized shut. I remained conscious and strong the whole time. I was ready to do anything to get out of there by the second day. Eventually I discharged myself against orders because they wanted to observe me another night. A sympathetic nurse felt that I could observe myself from the comfort of home without adding on to my already outrageous hospital bill so she helped me get out of there. I was out riding the day after I got out.

They said that physically I was in great shape and that I wouldn't have fared so well if I was out of shape and had lost that much blood. They asked about stress, drugs, drinking, diet, etc...anything that would induce ulcers. About my only vice was drinking (not out of control, but a couple every night for the most part - no beer really, mostly mixed drinks) so they immediately jumped on that as being my problem. Some nurse lectured me on not drinking and they sent me home after 2 days with a prescription for nexium.

Fast forward 2.5 months. I don't have any visible symptoms of an ulcer but I don't feel good either. Even though I am 'cleared' to drink, I have had maybe 2 or 3 drinks total in the last few months and they were beer. I quit drinking soda and have made significant changes to my diet. I don't take aspirin based products and have never been a big coffee drinker. I've lost 10-15 lbs. and I was built pretty skinny to begin with. Although ulcers can also often be caused by a form of bacteria in the stomach, I tested negative for this.

I think this all might have been stress induced from the beginning. I've noticed that for the most part my stomach really starts churning and not feeling good in higher stress situations. I did have an ulcer maybe 7 years ago when I barely drank and was busting my ass during my first semester in college which further backs up my belief.

I'm self employed and partner with a friend in an engineering consulting firm, which is actually pretty easygoing. I don't really worry about money too much. Stress isn't a problem for me professionally - I don't "crack up" when it hits - I step up and do what it takes no matter what. I've always been that way. It's just little day-to-day things that make my stomach churn.

I guess my main point is if it is stress what can I do about it? I can't relax - I guess I don't know how. If I go on a vacation half of my time is spent thinking about all the shit I have to do when I get back. It seems to me that to really alleviate stress, one would have to have a bottomless wallet and no responsibility - neither of which are an option. I'd ask my doctor but don't think I'd get a reply back in English.

Oh yeah....before someone tells me to rub one out more often...I've got that covered.

Last edited by Jschaffer; 12-20-2005 at 11:43 AM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 02:27 AM
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The long-term affects of stress should not be discounted, but you may want to do a little reading on the relatively recent idea that ulcers are actually caused by a virus.

While food will cause symptoms if you have ulcers, ulcers are NOT caused by the food you eat.

The two main "cures" for stress are therapy or drugs, and both can get expensive. Drugs are the shortcut, and in my opinion are a bandaid, not a solution. Ultimately you need to discover the root cause of the emotional response that leads to stress and learn new coping methods. Other related methods are self-medication or distraction. In the case of distraction (self-medication is argueably a distraction) the question then become have you substituted a more positive behavior or a more negative one.

Ultimately stress is a huge drain of energy poorly focus on addressing the causes and ultimately can lead to a number of health complications down the road.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 07:20 AM
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Hey man I know your pain.
I had ulcer (5 years ago) in my lower portion of my stomach.
I had bad abdominal pain (30 minutes after any kind of food)
so I went to a doctor. They stick that big ass tube in my
throat (not up my ass), and they found 1. They took a little sample of
that villain, to check for helicobacter, which creates ulcers. Clear.
I ask him what was the cause of that ulcer, and his answer was:
not eating enough
irregular eating
stress
and you drinking to much alcohol (not really a truth).
So I got some pills and some kind of liquid, to dry im out.
Had peace for like 1.5 year and happaned again.
Got Zantac 75 and now coast is clear.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 07:44 AM
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yeah, stress can absolutely kill you if goes unchecked. my dad had a number of serious stress-related health issues. he never drank, smoked, had poor diet, or done any drugs. but the age of 56 his health just went to shit and all the doctors he talked to said that his illnesses were stress-related.

I am self-employed mortgage lender and I am stressed out all the freaking time due to the nature of my business. Knowing what happened to my dad just makes shit worse, as now I get to stress out about stressing out. I talked to my family doc about it and his best advice was to take it easy. I don't know what the hell that means. It's not in my nature nor schedule. So, if anybody has any good ideas on how to "take it easy" and not stress out, please do tell.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 07:45 AM
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I think Dave said it pretty well, recognizing what it is causing the stress is very important. You mention that it is the day to day stuff, but you have to really get to the root of the problem.

I have dealt with a lot of stress and have actually been able to find some of the causes. One of the main ones is control issues, I am a huge control freak and when I feel that I am not in control of a situation (in life, in reality there is little we can control) I would get stressed out (same stomach feeling you described). I try to let go of control, being spiritual helps, like Dave said medicine also helps but it is a band aid to a bigger problem.

Finding activities that release stress is also a good things. It really has to be something that really makes you focus, video games, riding, reading (for some) are all good activities that can occupy your mind. If your hobbies right now are things that you do but you still think about your problems they are not helping.

Having friends that you can talk to even about those little every day problems help. You would be surprised how much someone else laughing at your little worry will make you change your mind and make the problem smaller.

One thing that might help also (it has helped me) is drinking tons of water at work. It eventually makes you get up from your desk to go and take a break to refill and also to empty the tank. It provides the breaks that sometimes you don't give yourself.

Sorry to ramble on, just trying to post all I can think that would help out. Good luck.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 10:00 AM
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Been there done that. While it never got to the extent of a ruptured artery and a bleeding ulcer I was occasionally puking blood. I do have GERD from years of abuse. For what it's worth, keep on top of it. I have to take a Prilosec a day or I'm in pain. I never was a pop drinker, but still have a cup of Joe or 2 a day. I used to drink a pot. I prefer mixed drinks and run a high stress business too. I found a good GI guy. Diet, limiting coffee, limiting the hard stuff, exercise and learning how to relax are critical. The last part is very important. I'm spending more time on mellow activities (messing with my hobbies) and meditating. I try to get more in tune with knowing my stressors and relax. I'm doing much better, but don't think I'll ever be able to kick the drugs without surgery.

It is good that you are addressing it. Don't discount the warning signs. I had an old friend that bled out and died before he was 35 from the same thing!

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YZFAlex
I talked to my family doc about it and his best advice was to take it easy. I don't know what the hell that means. It's not in my nature nor schedule. So, if anybody has any good ideas on how to "take it easy" and not stress out, please do tell.

That's exactly what I'm talking about! When I take it easy I feel worse because I'm not being productive. It started back in college when I was trying to make grades while working on and eventually captaining race vehicle teams. On top of school there was an extra 40-80 hours/week at times building race cars. Although it wreaked havoc with grades and my personal life at times I loved it because I was able to go above and beyond what my peers were doing. I really felt like I was getting something done and making a difference - I did learn a tremendous amount both engineering and about myself during this time. There was something to be said about working night and day nonstop and really kicking ass while everyone else was out drinking at the bars or sleeping.

I hold myself up to that standard today and just don't feel like I'm cutting it.

It's not in my nature to take it easy either. When I'm not at work I'm working on something at home. I'll throw on a movie as background noise while I'm working on something else. I want, and have somewhat of a need, to stay busy. If there's a take it easy drug I'd like to get my hands on it.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
 
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I checked out clear for bacteria - it was disappointing for me because I was hoping for a clear cut solution as to why this is happening to me.

It's not day-to-day things that are problems for me. A couple weeks ago when it snowed badly and I was stuck in the car pissed off about a near 4 hour commute it hit. Driving through Orland Park and trying to dodge all the Christmas idiots coming out of the mall it hit. Running late to an appointment it hit. I don't have any real problems in my life that I need to talk about as such - just the little shit that gets to me. Control issues? Maybe, who knows.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:03 PM
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Sitting still is over-rated..... I have rarely been able to sit on a beach and just relax... my mind starts working on all the shit I should / could be doing if I wasn't sitting still on this stupid f&*king beach.....

What I from this was a lesson in how to relax... and what relaxation means to me.

Relaxation ( for me ) is taking a mental break from thinking about the day to day work / home / relationship stuff that gives me stress. Since sitting on a beach won't do it I had to find something else..... a diversion.

My top three diversions.....

Roadracing .... requires 100% of my attention while on the track, can't think about any of my normal stress-inducers. THe end of a track weekend I am physically tired and mentally cleansed.... very refreshing.

Meditation .... Active meditation ( Hatha Yoga ) can lead you to mental clrity and physical wellness. This also requires you to be 100% in the moment in touch with your thoughts and body.... complete distraction from the day-to-day.

Video Games... Like mental "chewing gum" they absorb your mind if challenging enough ... driving, flying and racing simulations seem best and
get me through the off-season.


If zoning out doesn't work for you ..... try zooming in and engaging and
see if that might .... no time to worry when you FOCUS.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:20 PM
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people cram too much crap into their daily schedules and never accomplish all the things they set out to do. one of the best things you can do to relieve stress is to schedule a fixed bedtime and get at least 8 hrs sleep/night.

this is actually pretty hard to do (at least for me) because of the discipline it requires to stop doing other stuff and go to bed (as evidenced by early morning posts on here ) but on the rare occasions that I do this, I feel 10x better the following day compared to when I'm up all night, fall sleep when I'm utterly exhausted and jump back into the fray after only resting for 4-5 hrs
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:22 PM
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alternatively, go find a college aged nymphomaniac and have lots and LOTS of sex. the endorphin release should take care of all that stress and then some
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:24 PM
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I had a problem very similar to yours about 12 years ago. I lost about a third of my blood before the docs could take care of it. Yeah, stress, it's a b!tch. I kinda' took the same road that Blarney did. I took up a hobby that focussed my mind and forced me to block out everything else. I got into flying aerobatic competition for a while. This type of flying definately keeps ya focussed. Riding a motorcycle is very similar. I also took up martial arts. All these activities are physically challenging and keep you very focussed to the point where all worries about job, family, comute etc. melt into the landscape. It also doesn't hurt to eat right and use something like Pepsid or such to keep your stomach acid in check. Good luck.

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie
alternatively, go find a college aged nymphomaniac and have lots and LOTS of sex. the endorphin release should take care of all that stress and then some


The best advice thus far.

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:34 PM
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I thought ulcers were caused by some kind of mode or fugus?


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BusaDave
While food will cause symptoms if you have ulcers, ulcers are NOT caused by the food you eat.
I agree that food doesn't cause the ulcers, but I believe that if you have tested negative for the bacteria, and don't consider yourself an overly stressed person, the next step is to check for food allergies.

In certain cases, and I could be full of crap, the allergic reaction could cause irritation of the esophogus (sp?) and stomach lining creating acids which could result in an ulcer. The nexium you take will reduce the acid and mask what is really going on.

Whatever the cause, it's in your best interest to figure it out asap. My advice is that you have a follow up and let them scope you to determine if you still have ulcers or are developing more.

Letting this go and not dealing with it, or trying to manage your stress level yourself may not be the best approach.

Good Luck.

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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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I have PLENTY of hobbies to keep me busy. Luckily, my business is one of my hobbies so I can make money doing what I like. I have plenty of car and motorcycle projects to keep me busy. I'm not into racing yet but I commute on my bike whenever it's warm enough and do a fair amount of long distance riding. I've gotten into shooting during the last few months too. I do play video games occasionally also. I don't really have any relationship problems that I can think of.

I've taken a lot of steps which should help my general health including better diet, no soda or coffee, almost no alcohol, etc...

The allergy theory is interesting. Maybe something I'll have to look into further.

I could work on the sleep thing too although I usually get around 6-7 hours which is pretty good for me.

I'm supposed to use Nexium for a few more months but also feel like it is a bandaid and would rather attack the root cause instead of just medicating.

For all I know it might not even be stress. I never considered myself to be a very stressed person - I always keep pretty cool under fire compared to many people that I now. I just need to figure out something I can do because my current course of action doesn't seem to be helping.
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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie
people cram too much crap into their daily schedules and never accomplish all the things they set out to do. one of the best things you can do to relieve stress is to schedule a fixed bedtime and get at least 8 hrs sleep/night.

this is actually pretty hard to do (at least for me) because of the discipline it requires to stop doing other stuff and go to bed (as evidenced by early morning posts on here ) but on the rare occasions that I do this, I feel 10x better the following day compared to when I'm up all night, fall sleep when I'm utterly exhausted and jump back into the fray after only resting for 4-5 hrs
+1, 8hrs of sleep is a necessity, what I found really benefical was working out at least 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. I love the heavy bag, 30 minutes on that is a great stress reliever.

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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 02:33 PM
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I have some stomach problems as well. For years I just dealt with it. then I sought help. to make a long story short I ended up on prevecid for years which worked great, the they switched me to aciphex which has worked very well. Befroe we settled on either of these drugs, much testing was done. Nexium was one of the ones I tried, I felt terrible while taking it and would actually get nautious every so often. one other thing I found was that I am lactos intolerant, all those years I was trying to settle my stomach with a nice glass of milk, sure enough that's what was kicking my ass int he first place compounding my problem. try adding some lactaid to your diet right before you eat anything with dairy and see if that makes a difference. if it does you found your problem.




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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 10:18 PM
 
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I would recommend seeing a chiropractor. Chiropractic medicine is holistic, so you wouldn't be taking any drugs. You would also have a little relaxation time as well when ever you visit the doc. I would recommend some one that does accupunture as well.
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