Phantom of the Gastrointestinal Opera

If you have followed my blog for some time or know me in real life you know all about my  battles with my body. Not just on the eating disorder front, but between all the food allergies, vegetarianism, and my biggest battle…Phantom GI Issues.Phantom GI Issues is a fun name (like how my ED is named Melvin) that I gave my mysterious gastrointestinal disorder. Things always seem to be a bit more bearable when you give them some sort of characteristic or quality. For example Melvin, my ED, is one of those socially awkward nerdy types who doesn’t know when to be quiet and is annoyingly inappropriate. My Phantom GI Issue is similar to the Phantom from the Phantom of the Opera. He is mysterious, loves to whisk me away in the middle of the night, wreak havoc anytime he gets upset/doesn’t get his way, and no one knows where and who he is. One exception, this Phantom isn’t Gerard Butler-who I never thought was cute but I know other women who think otherwise. But I digress….

For over five years I have battled and try to escape the Paris Opera House that my GI Phantom has held me hostage in. For over four years I have spent hundreds of dollars on tests that came back “normal” or “inconclusive”. There has only been one test that came back with a result (a hiatal hernia with H. Pylori) but after that was cured I still suffered from undisclosed sickness. I have spent hours driving to and from doctor’s appointments with underpaid staff and scheduled my life around these appointments. Appointments that I knew would come back “inconclusive” or “you are fine. there is nothing wrong with you”, “it’s just IBS”, “its just stress” etc… There are at least fifty hours of my life I cannot get back because I was in diagnostic testing where each and every test came back with those blasted normal readings. That gallbladder ultrasound=negative…but lets test your gallbladder function–that test (three hours long!) came back regular. Let’s have a small bowel function test (trust me you never want this!!!! never!!!!) came back regular. Let’s draw six viles of your blood because you may not have any antibodies. Let’s have you breathe into a bag and see if you still have H. Pylori. Let’s give you all this medicine that makes your symptoms worse or doesn’t work at all.  Ooo a nice ER trip is just the best way to spend date night with your husband….




While all this is going on I am trying to learn to love myself. As a yoga instructor and a dance instructor of mini’s I’m always talking about “self-love”, “body positivity”, “love who you are”….all things I’ve been trying to do since I started recovery about six years ago.  I talk a good game but deep down I still don’t like myself-I like myself more than I used to, thank you yoga and fringe arts-but the Phantom made it really hard for me to make peace with my body. I longed to nourish properly. I longed to not care as much about what I look. I longed to live what I teach 100%. But I…Just…Couldn’t.

I kept thinking, “how can I love my body when it doesn’t love me?”.  Why treat it with respect and lovingkindness when no matter what I do the Phantom had other plans? Why sing aria’s of anti-inflammatory smoothies when I get booed? Why dance to beautiful music of the best gluten free/vegan, roasted red pepper pasta with a glass of my favorite wine, when the Phantom would drop a chandelier on me? Why treat my body with respect, like the temple that it is, when obviously the Phantom says otherwise.




I look at my body and I see torture. I see the torture and tug of war between the Phantom, Melvin, and myself. How I want and long to overcome it, but it’s beyond difficult. I just can’t love myself when I’m strung out over the toilet clinging for dear life. I just can’t love myself when my favorite safe food makes me sick. I just can’t love myself when the Phantom holds me hostage underneath the opera house and I can’t go out with my friends.

However, times are changing. The Phantom has had his time. I am playing his last opera and then burning down the opera house. I have found out what he was clinging too-what he was using to keep me from loving myself. I am on the mend. Moving on from the flames of the Paris Opera house but still aware of the Phantom. With my new meds and new (accurate!!!!!) diagnosis I can begin to heal. I can begin a relationship with my body unlike one I’ve had before. I am taking small steps but I see a new beautiful opera house in the mist. I don’t know how long it will take to get there, but with the Phantom managed and behind me, I can sing an aria of anti inflammatory smoothies and dance with red wine all the way to the opera house.




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