Diagnose my husband (severe stomach cramping).

You are not his doctor, we will not take this as serious medical advice, and yes, he is currently seeing a doctor and is in the middle of a bunch of tests.

About six or seven weeks ago, my husband got the stomach flu. He is one of those people that hardly ever gets sick, and this one really knocked him out. It came out of both ends, stomach cramps, etc., but no fever. He was on the couch for about five days.

Fast forward three weeks and as part of our IVF protocol, we both have to take antibiotics. Two pills the first day, then one a day for three more days. I felt ill the first night but was fine afterwards. He felt ill the entire time, but it goes away once he finishes taking them.

About five days after he finishes the last pill, he is at a union meeting when he suddenly has severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, so comes home. He walks in the house, gets to the bathroom, and vomits and has diarrhea at the same time (luckily the tub is next to the toilet). He crawls to the bedroom and lays on the floor with severe stomach pain. Severe enough that after about 30 minutes I called the ambulance. He was almost incoherent with the pain and descibed it as a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. This coming from a guy who has broken multiple bones, dislocated his hips, broken his back, had shoulder rotator cuff partial replacement surgery and had a steel plate installed in his forearm after a bad break. This was worse pain then any of that, according to him.

The ambulance arrived and loaded him up with morphine and demerol. He was taken to the hospital and seen by the ER doctor. They thought it might be the stomach flu, but hubby disagreed because of the difference in severit of symptoms. They did a feces culture which later came back normal. Blood work was also normal. The ER doc thought it might be C.Diff, but because the blood work was normal, later discounted this.

They gave him something that stops spasms (starts with a ‘b’…ugh, can’t recall) and it worked wonderfully, so he was sent home. The next day he felt fine. This was about three weeks ago.

Over the last three weeks, he’s occassionally felt ill again, but has had three more severe bouts in addition to that that would have again sent him to the hospital if he didn’t have these pills at home, which help as soon as they kick in. He no longer has diarrhea (though a bit loose sometimes) and no vomitting since the hospital trip. But this is most certainly not the stomach flu, it’s something else.

He had an ultrasound yesterday, and goes for more blood work and a urea breath test (if I recall correctly) on Monday.

Any ideas?

The b would probably be buscopan, aka Butylscopolamine. It’s an antispasmodic. If that’s resolving the issue almost as soon as he takes it, then something is triggering the muscles of his bowel to go into spasm. Which is good, because as least he gets relief from something other than high doses of opiates.

Where exactly in his abdomen the pain seems to radiate from can also be a sign of what’s causing the pain. Upper left quadrant is different from lower right is different from centralised pain that radiates to the back. And that’s the other problem - abdominal pain is great at referring, so your husband may feel it’s his “Stomach” that’s hurting, but it’s actually a referred pain from a muscle spasm lower down.

Some people say antibiotics make IBS worse. Is it possible your husband’s had a relatively mild case of IBS that the IV antibiotics have triggered into a full episode? Have these repeat episodes been attached to any particular pattern you can find - eating a particular food, eating at a particular time, excessive stress?

Yes, buscopan! Thanks.

He descibes the pain as radiating out from just behind and about an inch below his belly botton. It is not on one side or the other.

The only food pattern we’ve noticed is that in two cases, one of them the original case, he had unpasturized goat cheese with dinner. He started having stomach cramps shortly after. They always happen in the evening as well, though he does sometimes have minor discomfort during the day. On one other occassion we had lean pork and veggies for dinner, and on the other occassion it was chicken and veggies. Nothing unusual from our normal dinners.

The unfortunate problem with abdominal pain is that unless you’re in the throes of an episode, or have something blatantly obvious like a bowel obstruction, diverticulitis or a rupture somewhere, it’s very hard to get a visible diagnostic on. Endoscopies, colonoscopies, a capsule endoscopy (where you swallow a camera), a bowel transit study (take this radioactive goop then lie in a scanner for 7 hours while we watch your bowel move) and even open surgery never found the cause of my ex’s abdominal pain. The upshot is that he now has a bitchin’ 5" scar down his belly :slight_smile:

It may be worth talking about IBS and other digestion disorders with your husband’s doctors, especially if the episodes seem to be triggered by eating, and as I said, if they then pass relatively easily with a suitable dose of buscopan shortly afterwards. If it is IBS or something similar, it’s unlikely anything will show up on the various 'scopes they do, but they can do blood tests and other tests to find that sort of thing.

Awesome, thanks!

Another suggestion we heard was gallbladder issues, but I’m guessing they’ll be able to diagnose that with the tests they’re running as well.

Yeah, I’m not particularly familiar with gallbladder myself, but my understanding of it is that it can be picked up with blood tests or something else like that.

Good luck with it though. Idiopathic abdominal pain sucks the life out of you, both the sufferer and those who care for/about them. Having a cause means at least you can manage it.

The test I had to take when my gallbladder crapped out was to lie on a table while they gave me an injection of something (started with a K, iirc). Then if I got nauseous, my gallbladder was busted - if I didn’t get nauseous, it wasn’t the gallbladder.

In other words, it was a pretty specific test.

Has he tried probiotic yogurt or supplements? Maybe the mass antibiotic doses screwed up his gut bacteria environment?

Gallbladder pain (in my experience) can be excruciating, and gallstones should show up on ultrasound (that’s how they found mine).

I hope your husband gets a useful answer from his doctors, and quickly!

Yes, he is. He’s taking both, and he’s also recently started drinking milk kefir, which seems to help some people with IBS/colitis type issues.

I’d demand a repeat culture for C. diff. I’m not even entirely sure why, just a spidey sense tingling.

Although I’m pretty sure it shows up in blood tests, the vomiting and abdominal pain severity (though not the location) reminds me of when my sister had pancreatitis. Worth at least asking about, if only to have the doctor shake his head and explain why it isn’t what your husband has!

My husband once ended up in hospital with severe abdominal pain that seemed to come from the level of the appendix…only he doesn’t have one (it was removed when he was 8). Blood tests were all completely normal. It took a CT scan to diagnose: omental infarction. No particular cause, and treatment was basically just a few weeks of painkillers (NSAIDS, though he had morphine in the ER). It doesn’t quite match what your husband seems to have, but it’s rather rare and stumped our ER doctor for a while, so it’s worth asking about.
Also, in some rare cases, appendicitis does present weirdly - my aunt had back pain that gradually increased over the course of a couple of weeks, but no other symptoms. When it got unbearable, she went to the hospital (would have gone sooner, but it was Christmas!) and found that not only had her appendix ruptured some time before, it had time to cause some infectious damage to part of her intestine too, which had to be removed (not much and no long term effects there, but a an emergency surgery with a long recovery!). If your husband has his appendix still, make sure the doctors completely rule that out!

Yeah, we both agree. C.diff fits, and I know it sometimes isn’t caught the first time they test for it.

I’m going to have to agree with pancreatitis. But if C.Diff is the case, they have to isolate you, because it’s very contagious. I got a free solitary hospital room because that’s what they thought I had, the second time around – the first time being removing the gall bladder despite any evidence there was anything wrong with it. (I got belligerent in the hospital bed and scared away some nurses as I questioned this.) I was tested twice for C.Diff and was negative.

Appendicitis you should check for too. It’s not an immediate thing. My mother suffered with it for hours before finally going to the hospital, and hers had actually ruptured.

Best wishes.

Comedy answer (or is it?): arsenic poisoning. :wink:

Seriously though, I hope they figure it out quickly and are able to stop those episodes. Poor guy.

The did check for appendicitis when he was in the hospital with the first bout and didn’t think that’s what it is. I’m not sure if they checked the pancreas, however.

Thanks again for all the suggestions! He’s a very active guy, and his job is active as well, so this is taking a huge toll on him.

I was going to vote for pancreatitis too, my friend (older man but still a badass) described it as a crippling pain unlike anything he ever felt before.

try this lik : http://www.stomachpainafter-eating.com/

Symptoms are very similar to what hit a work colleague 2 weeks ago. They thought it might be gallbladder related but that proved negative. They gave him an MRI and it turned out he had clots impairing his liver function, and he was close to liver failure.

This was spawning all the symptoms. They gave him a bunch of meds and he is much better now.

A wild spamlax appears! (spam reported)

Hm, this is an older thread of mine, but thanks for the story astro!

Just to update, he has had some stomach discomfort occassionally, but no severe attacks since. All tests came back clear. We still think it was C. diff.