I am writing this letter to you in an attempt to detail my 3 year battle with, as of today, a still undiagnosed stomach ailment. My ordeal will be in some detail and in chronologically correct order. My sole reason for writing this letter is to inform the medical profession of its existence and treatments in the hope that it may help some one else that may come down with a similar malady.
Chapter I. Let’s start from the beginning. My stomach pain first appeared on April 14th, 2008. I remember this date because I was in a motel room in Richmond, VA watching the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. As the game progressed, my stomach started hurting, and became progressively worse. In an attempt to explain where the pain was located I will give this description. If you were to spread out your hand and place your pinky finger in your navel, the area of pain would encompass my hand. The pain level, on a scale of 1 to 10, was about a 5 to 6. The pain was steady and there was no cramping that you would expect with an upset stomach or food poisoning. About 12 AM I thought I may be having a heart attach so I had the front desk call the EMT’s. They arrived several minutes later and ran the usual tests to determine if I was having a heart attack. No heart attack, but I was in atrial fibrillation with a heart rate of 125 beats per minute. They determined that the heart rate was at the level that I needed medical attention, so off to the emergency room I went. I spent the night in the emergency room plugged up to a heart monitor. I continued to experience the stomach pain all night and was given a pill for nausea, which did no good. About 8 AM the pain subsided and the cardiologist on call gave me an injection to jump start my heart back into a normal rhythm. I went to see my cardiologist in Suffolk the next day and he determined I was in almost constant atrial fibrillation and put me on a drug called amioderone to control the irregular heartbeat and also put me on Coumadin to protect me from possible blood clots. He told me that the pain was caused by my atrial fibula ion and would go away. As it turned out two were in no way connected. The pain continued every day. It would come on about 1 to 5 PM every day. The same place in my stomach and at the same pain level and I would endure the pain into the night. I would usually spend the night in my easy chair, taking Rolaids and other antacids, to no avail. Do to lack of sleep I would finally fall asleep about 3 to 4 in the morning. I would wake the next morning with no pain, only to have it come back the next day. If anyone has seen the movie “Groundhog Day” staring Bill Murray…this had become my life.
Chapter II-The long road to a cure. I went to see my primary physician and he prescribed different medications like muscle relaxers, painkillers, antacids, and nausea pills, to name a few. Nothing worked…until I had my car accident on July 4th weekend. I ended up in Obici Hospital banged up but nothing broken. I was given Percocet, a narcotic,
for the pain. After spending 3 days in the hospital, I realized that my stomach pain had disappeared. I had not connected the dots, and the day I went home the pain came back. I ended back in the emergency room with severe stomach pain and was given more Percocet. Within an hour the pain was gone. Eureka! I had not found the cure, but now I did have a band aid. For the next 2 ½ years my pain came on every day, and every day I took a Percocet, which in about one hour killed the pain until it came back the next day. I didn’t like taking narcotics, but it was the only thing that saved my sanity. For the next 2 ½ years my life went down hill, my social life, my married life, and my career. My “disease” had totally consumed my life, almost to the point of being not worth living. The support of my wife, family, and friends was the only thing that kept me going.
Chapter 3-The medical road to recovery. After no positive results from any treatments prescribed by my primary care physician, he sent me to Tidewater gastrointerologists for treatment. It is now well into 2009. I think they did every medical test at their disposal, including, MRIs, cat scans, x- rays, endoscopy, and a barrage of tests to see how my digestive system was working. No smoking gun. All the tests came back negative. They finally surmised that my gall bladder needed to be removed and this would solve all of my problems. I had the gall bladder taken out…to no avail. finally, after exhausting all of their resources, they recommended that I go to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, one of the best diagnostic hospitals in the country. The doctor I saw was the head of the gastroenterology department. My first visit was in July. He put me on gluten free diets, changed my medications, performed an endoscopy and colonoscopy, and did several blood tests. I went to him once a month for the next 6 months and the last time I saw him was in December 2009. He admitted that he had done all the tests he could think of, to no avail. He was basically waving the white flag. This was the low point of my 3 year ordeal. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to live with this pain for the rest of my life. All the king’s doctors and all the king’s men couldn’t make me well again. My biggest fear was that my body would build up a tolerance to the Percocet and I would have no way of fending off the pain For the next 8 months my life was a living hell.
Chapter IV-the miracle. In August of 2010 my Sister-in-Law, who lives in Italy, suggested that I go see an acupuncturist. I thought about this for some time. Over the last 2 ½ years I had endured every possible test and operations, to no avail. I knew nothing about acupuncture, or how it worked, but my sister-in-law was seeing one that she swore by for treating her arthritis. Since I had exhausted all other options, I decided to give it a try. Lynn, this is where you come in. My first visit to you was on October 11, 2010. You came highly regarded, so I came to see you. You made a statement that it took a long time to acquire this pain, and it was a possibility it would take a long time to get rid of it. Understanding that there was a high probability that your treatment would also fail, I was pessimistic, to say the least. But I believed in you. After a couple of months of treatments, and several different procedures, none of them seemed to work. You told me to stick with you and not to get discouraged, so I did. Your last procedure, utilizing silver threads connecting the needles, has literally changed my life. First, one day with no pain. I thought it was a fluke, so I didn’t get too exited. Then 2 days in a
row, then 4 days, then an entire week!! I have now been pain free for more than 70 days. Lynn, I don’t know how it works, and I don’t really care. This much I can tell you…You have given my life back to me. I enjoy life again and I look forward to a long and fruitful retirement. Every one from my wife, my kids, and my friends, say I’m the old Paul Owen they used to know. Thank you Lynn, from the bottom of my heart.
Since the birth of my second child, I suffered from an increasing inability to prevent the audible passing of digestive gas. My medical doctor and the very fine specialist to whom he referred me were unable to treat the condition through traditional medical or surgical methods. It seemed to me that this could be a condition suited to acupuncture treatment, and so I searched for an acupuncture professional in whom I could have confidence. I identified the professionals in the area, researched their education and licensure, and was very impressed with Lynn Almloff’s credentials. At our first meeting, it was obvious that my choice was a good one! Lynn’s empathy was important in creating a patient relationship for this fairly embarrassing condition. The treatment was both interesting (and painless!) and effective. I would wholeheartedly recommend Lynn Almloff’s services to anyone thinking about an alternative therapy for conditions appropriate to acupuncture treatment.