Taking care of tummies a lifelong commitment

One of my sons came down with the 24-hour flu this week and out of sympathy I had a stomach ache that night.

One of my sons came down with the 24-hour flu this week and out of sympathy I had a stomach ache that night.

I lay down flat on my front a few times and then had a nice hot bath, stretching out on my tummy a few times.

It made me think about how often I’d get tummy aches as a kid. I think that was the reason I hated wearing leotards. They were tight around the middle in order to stay up and if they were loose you had to constantly pull them up.

Growing up I had a sensitive stomach and often had the flu.  It seemed like I’d get the worst tummy aches on Thursdays.   That’s when after lunch I’d put my leotards and ballet suit on under my school clothes. For some reason I thought it would  save me time after school when I attended dance class. Funny because dance class wasn’t until 4:30 and school was out at 3 p.m.

My tummy aches took on a new level when I was a young mom with three small children. After a couple of years of embarrassing symptoms I finally went to the doctor.  Following some even-more-awkward tests I  was  diagnosed with camplyobacter — an infection kind of like beaver fever.

A heavy dose of antibiotics cleared it up quickly, although the health inspector phoned to ask if I’d eaten unpasteurized eggs or milk.

“Truthfully I had symptoms for a couple of years before I finally went to the doctor,” I admitted.

Then when I was pregnant with my fourth child, my symptoms returned. I went back to the doctor, but test results showed I didn’t have an infection. It turned out I had ulcerative colitis. Because I was pregnant my doctor did not want to prescribe me with steroids.

Jumping on many bandwagons I tried different diets. The first was for celiacs, but the results made things worse. Finally a local food store owner told me that 60 per cent of my diet should be whole grain.

Following her advice I became close and personal with whole wheat, whole oats, rice, millet and slowly healed. To be safe I also cut out dairy, meat, caffeine and all nuts for five years. There was actually a tofu delivery company in Nelson at the time so I ate a lot of tofu.

Eventually I introduced everything back into my diet, and through trial and error realized that because my colon is weaker than the average person, nuts and seeds had to be eaten sparsely.

Twenty years later I still get tummy aches, but a scope in September came back showing everything was healthy. I think often our tummies act as a barometer, letting us know when we’re getting stressed. As a result I try to be mindful of mine.

Monica Lamb-Yorski is a staff writer with the Tribune/Advisor