Since college, I've had chronic, mild tension headaches. Monthly appointments with a talented massage therapist help, but they still bother me a bit. Moreover, two pregnancies left me with achy hips. So, I popped little bits of ibuprofen here and there, as needed, and never worried much.
Fast forward to today, when I visited the doctor complaining of back pain, nausea and abdominal tenderness. “Congratulations!” he said. “You’ve got an ulcer.”
In the car on the way home, I started to cry. I’d been a brave little soldier for days, thinking this was some kind of minor, easily treatable, quickly-healed stomach issue. Instead, he’d sent me home with a prescription for antacids and the warning that this would take several weeks to start feeling better. And, you guys, it HURTS.
Like, constant aching in my stomach, radiating pain into my back. If this ulcer were a baby, I’d be in transition: unrelenting pain, chills, feeling discouraged, and definitely asking for the drugs.
As I cried in the car, I realized something: I need an ulcer doula.
I need someone to help me research. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on the internet. I should drink milk to soothe my stomach. I should definitely not drink milk; it will further irritate and inflame my stomach. I should try licorice root, slippery elm, and marshmallow root. I should go on an anti-inflammatory diet. I should drink a quart of freshly juiced cabbage every day. My ulcer doula could help me find evidence based information.
I need someone to draw me a warm bath, and talk about my options for relief. I need someone to hold a heating pad to my back, play soothing music, and help soothe me, relax me, and comfort me so I can rest.
I need someone who has been there, and knows how it feels, and how much it sucks. Someone I can vent to and complain to who would never judge me.
I need someone to remind me that I’m strong. To reassure me that I will get through this, no matter how long it lasts.
So, until my ulcer doula magically appears, I will rely on a loving husband who, while he can’t read my mind the way a doula would, is still kind enough to cook dinner, and bring me a pillow while I quietly whine on the couch.
Good luck and God bless, all. Take your Motrin with food, ok? Trust me.
Note: I am not actually comparing ulcer pain to labor pain. They’re very different, and one ends with a cute, tiny human to take home. Several weeks later, after quarts of cabbage juice to wash down my doctor-prescribed Zantac, my stomach is feeling much better.