What I Wish Doctors Told Me About Chronic Illness

Stella Guan
9 min readNov 12, 2019

I learned it the hard way so you don’t have to

I was lying on the exam table at my primary care doctor’s office.

“Yup, you are definitely bloated,” said my doctor. After a brief abdominal exam, I was instructed to take Zantac and go on a bland diet.

The next thing I remember was rushing myself to urgent care. In the span of a week, my acid reflux had become so severe that I couldn’t even take down water. I became extremely dizzy and nauseous from dehydration. I knew I couldn’t go to sleep like this — otherwise I may not wake up.

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

At urgent care, I was advised to dilute 50% Gatorade with 50% water and freeze it into ice cubes so I can at least suck the moisture down to keep myself hydrated.

The next morning, I desperately went down the list of gastroenterologists on Zocdoc and called each office trying to get an appointment on the same day. After calling three offices and hearing no availabilities, I began to panic.

When the fourth place said there is one appointment slot, I immediately rushed there. Having had only tiny amount of oatmeal and bananas for the entire week, I was extremely weak, shaky and barely able to speak.

Luckily, I was seen by a very compassionate doctor whose calming voice made me feel like there may be hope. He fast tracked me into the procedure room to do an upper endoscopy the following day.

I was diagnosed with chronic gastritis and prescribed 8 weeks of Omeprazole.

The next few weeks consist of numerous tests to eliminate other possibilities, agonizing symptoms and the slow realization that my newfound illness may not completely heal after 8 weeks — or ever.

Fast forward 3 months, I have come a long way since my digestive system suddenly collapsed. I am finally able to eat select varieties of food without too much discomfort, but my stomach never feel the same again, and I have learned to accept that it may never will.

My stomach never feel the same again, and I have learned to accept that it may never will.


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