So today I am sharing a more personal post with you guys, I am always super open with you guys about all the different aspects of my life so I figured it was time to share this with you all too. This is the story of how I discovered I had an Epigastric Hernia.
About almost 3 years ago today I started having the most random stomach pain and other symptoms like constant nausea, acid reflux, and bloating. This lasted for about 2-3 months consecutively so obviously I started to get worried. As a lot of you know I have the BRCA2 gene which automatically made my mind jump to ovarian cancer, ya girl is a little bit of a hypochondriac, so I went to my Dr. and told her what was going on she didn’t really think it was anything serious and just told me to wait a little bit longer and try some antacids to help with the acid. So I hit 4 months almost 5 and was just so stressed by all these symptoms, especially the constant nausea because it was literally impairing my everyday life. I went back to my Dr. and told her I really needed something done, she finally ran some blood and gave me a total look over. The blood came back completely fine and she couldn’t find anything in the physical exam either. She basically chalked it up to maybe a bad stomach bacteria or bad diet and gave me some things to change. I tried all the things she recommended but I already ate a REALLY clean diet so that wasn’t an issue. During this time frame I wasn’t really working out steadily because I felt so bad but when I did I noticed the symptoms would be worse as well as when I ate really junky food. I was really at a loss at this point and didn’t know what to do anymore honestly.
Around month 7-8 of having these symptoms I went to a different Dr. just to get a second opinion and she basically didn’t know what was going on either but thought it sounded like either an ulcer or allergy to dairy. This started the journey of eliminating dairy for a bit and trying a new diet for ulcers. The weird thing was I would have pockets where I felt fine and these were the pockets of time where I wasn’t doing rigorous workouts and was eating super healthy. Looking back now I can totally see how this was a hernia and wish I could go back and tell myself that to save A LOT of stress and struggle for younger Alex! The times where I didn’t feel fine were so miserable though you guys. I would have the worst stomach pain right above my bellybutton but below my breast bone, the acid reflux was so bad that it was coming up into my mouth at night and making my throat swell up, and the constant nausea was such a downer. I went back in after the last attempt at diet changes for the dairy ulcer theory and this was nearing the beginning of year 2 with no diagnosis. The time it took to try the different diets ate up almost a whole year because they wanted ample time on each one to 100% eliminate the theory of ulcer and dairy allergy. I remember just feeling so hopeless and sad because it hadn’t worked and I was just as miserable as ever. Fortunately this visit was finally about to solve this struggle.
I’m not sure how it even came up but the new Dr. asked me to let her feel all-round my abdomen one more time and I remember having a small cough during this visit, I coughed at the same time she was feeling the top of my abdomen and her face literally lit up with realization. She asked me to cough again while pushing on the spot between my breast bone and abdomen and then looks up at me and says you have a hernia! I honestly didn’t believe her at first because the only thing I knew about hernias were that they were usually in your lower groin and were like a thing older people got! But then she took her thumb and rammed it into the hole and it was literally like someone stuck a burning poker into my gut y'all. So that definitely helped aid in my belief :P
After FINALLY having a diagnosis I felted so relieved. Now as far as treatment the only way to “fix” a hernia is by surgery but my Dr. said that it was small enough that I could just take measures to fix the symptoms it causes when its agitated and to be preventative about the agitation. That way I can put off surgery until it is completely necessary or the only option. The best ways to keep the hernia from becoming agitated are to eat a clean diet free from fatty, greasy, foods, so basically a whole foods diet is ideal, to eat smaller portions which ends up being about 6 small meals throughout the day rather 3 normal sized ones, and to make sure I don’t do any hard core abdominal workouts or workouts that work your abs a lot. If you agitate the hernia too much you can actually cause the intestine to push through the hole and get stuck which can strangulate the intestine. This is life threatening and would mean I would have to have emergency surgery to try and save the intestine and NOOOO one wants that!
I definitely have had to change up my lifestyle to be more mindful of the hernia. I am a super fitness freak so I had to alter my workouts A LOT I was really into lifting and had to scale back on that so much. I am more into light HIITs, light weight lifting, and cardio now. Diet wise I have always eaten pretty clean so that wasn’t really a hard change I just have to make sure I don’t stray to far off clean eating and also not eating too much. I’m really bad about not eating regularly and then wanting to binge and I can’t so I have to watch that. It’s hard because I blog about a lot of food places which means I have to try all these different usually not so healthy foods. I usually just have a bite or two of everything and then pack it up for later or to give to my fam because I really can eat that much “bad” food now. The small portions definitely have weirded people out, I know people probably think I am just super vain or scared to eat but thats really not it at all, I LOVE food and eating I just have graze throughout the day basically and be careful what I eat.
Having the Epigastric Hernia has been a huge inconvenience at times especially when it’s having a flare up. I have had to cancel events with friends, brunches, etc and it sucks because nothing really seems wrong with me but internally I can be feeling so miserable. I have missed out on so many fun workout centered events and food related events because I couldn’t participate and explaining this to people is kind of awkward just because its not really well known but I’m tired of making excuses and just want people to know that this is why sometimes I can’t participate. Just recently I was sick with an upper respiratory infection and I got a terrible cough well that cough pushed my intestine through the hole in my abdomen and caused a BAD flare up luckily I calmed it down and it didn’t turn into anything too serious. I was down for the count though with all the bad symptoms that come with a flare up but no one knew I was dealing with this they just assumed I was ignoring them or being whiney about the upper respiratory infection when I was actually just trying to get that under control while feeling terrible.
I am most definitely NOT sharing this to get sympathy or anything like that, I just wanted you guys to know that this is something I have been and am still dealing with. I also wanted to share my story just in case it might help someone else with an Epigastric Hernia get their diagnosis faster without the months and months of struggle. If it helps one person get their diagnosis or even one person not feel like they are the only one who has this, then my work is done. I also wanted to share it as a reminder that you never know what people are dealing with and even if they look completely fine they could be dealing with something serious or be miserable on the inside. It’s always good to be reminded that you don’t know the struggles that other people are facing and not to make false assumptions about them.
As always if you guys have any questions or comments please leave them down below or find me on any of my socials, I love talking to you guys so don’t be shy ;)
I hope you guys have a fab rest of your week and I will talk to you all soon!