My body has chosen violence, doc
September 20, 2022 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Looking for help with describing symptoms to my doc in a way that is most likely to result in effective treatment.

I feel fine in the mornings before and after breakfast. After eating lunch? I feel dreadful. Queasy, tired, pains in abdomen. However if I skip lunch I make bad decisions and become a difficult human being.

It seems to me that my body is struggling more than usual to process food. I’m not always good at answering my doc’s questions in the moment, but if you all can help me anticipate questions, I can think them over and then make a list to share with her.
posted by bunderful to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you keeping a detailed food log yet? I imagine that will be top of their list.
posted by noloveforned at 5:31 PM on September 20 [15 favorites]

+1 to detailed food log. Also ask if they will check your thyroid levels and A1C. I find "my body is struggling more than usual to process food" pretty much describes me when I need to bump up my levothyroxine dosage, and the queasy tiredness is how I feel when I have low blood sugar. So those are things you should ask to check - both simple, extremely common blood tests.
posted by potrzebie at 5:35 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]

I write my thoughts down. Not every day...but if I am feeling an unusual emotion or discomfort. Then I can relay them to my Doctor. Blood tests are vital of course.
posted by Czjewel at 5:42 PM on September 20

They will want to know how long this has been going on, and if any of your eating habits have changed since the last time you didn't feel this way.

They'll want to know if you're eating more or less than you used to, and if the type of food you eat and drink at breakfast is different from what you eat and drink at lunch. They may also ask if anyone else in your household is having similar symptoms.

They'll want to know what, if any, medications/vitamins/supplements you're taking, when during the day you take them, and if you've recently added anything new or changed any dosages or schedules.

They'll probably ask about your regularity in terms of bowel movements.

They'll want to know any other symptoms you've been having lately that could be related.

They'll also want to know your medical history, as much as you know/can recall.

Oh, and they may ask about the intensity of the abdominal pain on the 1-10 scale, where 1 is the lowest. This is something to keep track of before the appointment, because it's so easy to underestimate your pain level when you're not currently experiencing it. And they'll probably want you to point at where the pains are.

Good luck, I hope you get some clear answers soon!
posted by invincible summer at 5:43 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]

I imagine they'll ask:

How long does the dreadful after-lunch feeling last? An hour? The whole rest of the day? By dinnertime are you feeling okay again? How do you feel after you eat dinner?

What's your daily schedule like? Does lunch happen in the middle of your workday or do you work night shift or have an irregular schedule? Where do you work? Is work a source of stress for you? Are you feeling much stress or anxiety in general? Do you have the same symptoms on days you don't work?
posted by Redstart at 6:05 PM on September 20

Yah, what are you eating at lunch that you're not eating at breakfast. Also, how goes dinner? Does the amount you eat matter? Is gluten a factor? Caffeine?
posted by amtho at 6:14 PM on September 20

It is difficult to describe symptoms but if you are dealing with a doctor who is not listening, it is that much more difficult. If you feel like you are not being heard after trying your best to communicate don't necessarily blame yourself and do consider a different practitioner. I hope you have a wise and empathetic doctor and that you get answers swiftly!
posted by jeszac at 6:15 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]

Best answer: In the past, doctors have taken my problems more seriously when I told them it was affecting my ability to work.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:23 PM on September 20 [13 favorites]

I have unfortunately found as a woman that when I can highlight how my problem is making a man’s life harder doctors jumó all over finding a cause and solution.

Gained weight? The doc was instantly concerned without me even saying it that men might find me less attractive.

Difficulty concentrating? Express that boss has commented on decreased focus/short term memory.

Loss of sexual interest?

Lack of energy for social planning?

Unable to appreciate partners home cooked meals?

No energy to keep house?

It’s terrible to feel a need to frame my own issues into the lens of the men in my life, but here I am!
posted by bilabial at 6:29 PM on September 20 [14 favorites]

I would also expect them to ask what you're eating for lunch, and if it's recently changed. I find that doctors are way more likely to actually give me something that helps me if I can show that I already tried changing my habits & I already tried the remedies for sale at the pharmacy and I already know that advice isn't what I need. So in your case I would try switching whatever you eat at lunch to a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, tea) & try an over the counter antacid if you haven't already.
posted by bleep at 6:44 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]

I feel dreadful. Queasy, tired, pains in abdomen.

Other people have given you good lists above. I think for me what would stand out is

- does this happen no matter what you eat (and have you tried switching it up) for breakfast and for lunch?
- does this happen if you don't have solid food for lunch (i.e. maybe try a protein shake for a few days) or breakfast?
- pain scale from 1-10
- do you ever vomit or feel like you're going to? Is this typical for you? (for example, my sister is often a puker if something is wrong with her stomach, I am not. If I was puking it would indicate something was MUCH more wrong than if she was)
- does anything make it better?
- are you in some physical position with lunch that might be affecting it (i.e. do you eat lunch at your desk and are sitting in a particular way, or do you always go for a walk right after, that kind of thing)
- is your digestion otherwise normal? Are your bowel movements normal for you in both consistency and frequency?

Also just a note that the T for the BRAT means toast (at least as I have been told, maybe it's tea in other places?) so it's one more thing you can try eating.
posted by jessamyn at 6:59 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]

If you want to try changing some things before you see the doctor, as bleep suggests, it seems like a really helpful experiment would be to eat the exact same thing for breakfast and for lunch. If that doesn't change what's happening, then you and the doctor will know that it's probably not being caused by any specific food.
posted by Redstart at 7:26 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]

Can you describe the pain? Where exactly is it located? Is it sharp or dull? Does movement make it worse? Does burping or pooping make it better?

Side questions -

Have you tried eating the exact same food for lunch as you eat for breakfast?

Do you chew gum or eat candy? Sometimes the sweeteners in candy (sorbitol, mannitol, etc) can cause gas pains.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:32 PM on September 20

Is there any garlic/onion in your lunch?

Onion or garlic are a common trigger for Irritable Bowel type symptoms, including pain and cramps.
posted by carriage pulled by cassowaries at 7:39 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]

Start watching those abdominal pains and seeing if you can be any more specific. Left side? Right? High, low, down by your pubic bones, up under your ribs, etc.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:39 PM on September 20

What do you drink with breakfast and lunch? Are you having more fluids with one than the other?
posted by Bottlecap at 11:15 PM on September 20

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I appreciate the help.

Probably should have mentioned that the doc appointment is tomorrow, but if there’s no satisfactory outcome I can start a food diary then.
posted by bunderful at 8:36 AM on September 21

I had a similar issue and every medical professional I interacted with asked when the symptoms started and what medicines and supplements I take and for how long I had been taking them so that's helpful to have handy.

It might be helpful to write down any questions you don't know the answers to in the moment and call/email back later when you can answer.
posted by *s at 10:57 AM on September 21

It doesn’t have to be a full food diary to be helpful! Just a generalized list of the sorts of things you eat for each meal will be helpful so you aren’t flailing in the moment. Especially try to think about macro nutrients - do you eat more protein, fiber or acidic things at one time over the other? Also, what happens if you skip breakfast and then eat lunch? Or skip lunch? (These may not be things you have done! They are just the kinds of questions GI docs ask me.)
posted by Bottlecap at 12:08 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

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