IMG_0773I have an unwelcome guest who will not leave.  I’ve spoken to him nicely, tried eviction notices, everything.  No success.  It wouldn’t be so bad if – he wasn’t a dragon.  No, no, stay with me.  This isn’t a fairy-tale, it’s a true story.  It’s happening right here, right now.  This noxious beast has taken up residence in a nice, warm, cosy cave.  My stomach.  I haven’t seen him, but I know he’s there, lurking in his den.  I know because, every now and then, he lets out a ball of fire which burns me from the inside.  What else could it be, I ask you?

He’s particularly annoying at night, as he likes his cave to be perfectly level.  I guess he doesn’t like to spill his nice cup of tea, or perhaps it disrupts some other activity.  I imagine him like Smaug, counting coins and having to start all over when I toss and turn and they slide about in all directions.  He growls and grumbles.  I can hear him clearly.  Heck, even poor Richard can hear him!  Intermittently, he spits out a roar of flames.  Sometimes they go up my chest, often they leave the back of my mouth with a acrid sting and even make my tongue numb.  It’s excruciating.  I prop myself up on  numerous pillows, but nothing’s good enough for his exacting standards.  Perhaps he has a spirit level down there?  Is there no end to his incessant demands?

A few nights ago, I thought I had perfected my sleeping arrangements.  There was a veritable ski-ramp of blankets and pillows to keep me upright all night and Mr. Dragon comfortable.  Alas, it was not to be.  After a promising start, I woke up constantly, finding myself in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the ramp.  It was all too depressingly reminiscent of the ski-lessons of my German childhood in a field down the road from our house.  I never did get the hang of that, either.  I’ve persisted with the pillow ski-ramp, though, because the alternative is a corner of the sofa.  It works better but who wants to be exiled to the lounge-room, far from the familiar soft snore of the one you love?  It’s just too lonesome, so I put up with waking with a sizzled throat, slumped in odd positions.

The days are not without their challenges, either.  Unthinkingly, I bend down to pick something off the floor.   Aaarrggh!  Angry fireballs flame right to my throat, instantly scorching me.  I almost have some sympathy, as it must be really annoying to have your abode turned suddenly turned upside down and find yourself on the ceiling, surrounded by various heavy, carved sideboards, sofas and chests of treasure.  Poor Mr. Dragon.  He really should find somewhere else to live, but that doesn’t seem to be on his agenda.

I decide to get some professional advice and consult several people famous for their dragon-taming skills.  I end up with an arsenal of chemical weapons which make my life vaguely more bearable, but don’t quite fix the problem.  The trick, you see, is to find out Mr. Dragon’s real name.  This is where this story does begin to resemble a fairy-tale.  The one with that annoying, vindictive little imp who helps the girl and then demands her first-born child as payment, unless she can call him by his name.  By sheer luck, she finds out he is Rumpelstilskin and he disappears in a puff of rage.  That’s what I’m hoping my dragon will do when we discover his name and we can finally write him an eviction notice!  In the meantime, the chemical weapons seem to stop him from growing more active, proving that his middle name is, indeed, Refluxius, but as soon as I have to stop using them even for a day for some test or other, he is back and very, very angry.  Twice as angry as before.  Boy, is he mad.  He does not like to be tricked.  And we don’t yet know his surname.  Without that, we won’t get far.

Our first guess at his name was the rather posh sounding double-barreled Helicobacterius-Pylorius.  The only way to find out whether this was right was a 10-day full-on, non-stop blast of high-powered chemical weapons.  It was tough, but Mr. Dragon was tougher.  While I was wilting, he was laughing his head off and seemed to be gaining power.  Fire-power.  Wrong guess, then.  Try again.

Another expert suggested that his last name may be Fodmapus and I may be feeding him the wrong food.  I should try excluding all sorts of things from my diet, in order to starve him into submission.  I went home with a list as long as my arm and set to work.  No more crusty German rye bread, apples, pears, cherries, blackberries, legumes, mushrooms, beetroot, snow peas, dairy products, onion, garlic, honey and so on and on and on.  To be honest, there didn’t seem to be much left.  Rice.  Potatoes.  Carrots.  Meat.  Those funny rice cakes that taste like you imagine styrofoam might.  Some bread that I brought home, full of hope, only to find that it looked like the real thing but tasted of sawdust and cement.  Back to the styrofoam.  Sigh.  The diet certainly had an effect, it starved someone into submission.  Me.  Several kilos lighter but still scorched, I admitted defeat.  That dragon sure is adaptable!

Not only is he adaptable, he decided to do what we all do not long after moving into a new place.  Renovate.  Yes, he’s been watching too many of those TV shows (curse you, Kevin McCloud!).  He decided he was over that 70’s orange-red swirly wallpaper and started to blow-torch it off the walls.  Well, I’ve got news for you, Mr. Dragon.  That’s not just any old daggy wallpaper, it’s special fire-resistant stuff.  Burn it off with your super-high-power blowtorch and you won’t find any Georgian stone-work or even hand-made bricks.  You’ll find a hole in the wall, with not much of a view behind.  More chemical warfare needed…..  special tablets the size and texture of a small piece of chalk and about as impossible to swallow, so I have to resort to grinding them up three times a day and swallowing them as an appetizing gritty slurry.  Urrgghh.  If I skip just the one, because I’m out and about and don’t have a mortar and pestle in my handbag, he’s back immediately with that darned blowtorch, determined to finish the job.  It’s a full time occupation keeping him under some sort of control, never mind getting rid of him for good.

I haven’t given up yet, but I must admit to some despondent moments, because I really have had a gutful and I’m sick and tired of it.  There are yet more chemical weapons and tests on the agenda.  Surely, something has to work.  Maybe he will just decide, all by himself, to move out one day?  Here’s hoping.  In the meantime, I’d better finish.  Reading through the waffle above, I think you, dear reader, have been nearly as patient as poor Richard.  I can see from what I’ve written that I’m in imminent danger of becoming completely self-absorbed!  I promise my next piece of writing will be about something completely different.  International politics, or my cat perhaps.  Goodbye for now.

14 thoughts on “FIRE IN MY BELLY

  1. Heidi, What fun you are having metaphorizing your symptoms! As you wrote to Leni, it must have literally helped you get it out of your system. That dragon can’t want to stay if you persist in giving him earthquakes with your laughter.

    I greatly enjoyed your dragon and sympathized with him, with you, without feeling your pain. You had me laughing through every paragraph, but OH! what a malady! I think my migraines are bad, but they are only intermittent, not daily. I wish you well as you continue your quest!


  2. I’m blown away Heidi! This is great writing here, right in the middle of your gastro issues you come up with such a brilliant piece of work. Just to let you know, I was far from bilious and this effort is as far from being self-absorbed as can be. Took me back to my microbiology classes in a non-sterile manner. “…rather the familiar snores of the one you love”, like Richard, I snore occasionally. Wonder if the Mrs refers to my snores in such an affectionate manner! Excellent writing Heidi.


    • Thanks, Sydney. I’m convinced that love is actually the ability to find all sorts of things endearing that would annoy the hell out of anyone else! It just wouldn’t work otherwise, because who’s perfect?


  3. HaHaHa! Plagues of chainsaws together with steam engine sighs might put an end to love’s tolerance though, not to mention, in Heidi’s case being made to freeze without ski-ramp materials aka duvets, sheets wandering during the night!

    What an accommodating dragon too! Having removed your gut flora to inhabit the space alone. Perhaps some competition might see to his demise, let in some baby militants, dragon-fighters of yore, a good variety of them: slide them down in a mix of creamy white slick silicon liquid and that should do the trick!

    Amusing and entertaining…if you ever get jiggers in your toes, don’t hesitate to write about them!


    • Don’t worry, Mama D, I have swallowed enough probiotics to re-goodbug-colonise a whole army! It doesn’t seem to have made any difference but I comfort myself by thinking that I would probably feel worse if I hadn’t! Jiggers… I hope to avoid those at least. I had the occasional tick and leech when I lived on the farm, that was enough for me.


  4. Absolutely blown away by this piece. Yeah, I know that the silly dragon is your enemy, but you’ve given it life and that too in such wonderful words. I pressing it on my blogging site and sharing with my friends.

    Waiting to read more from you. I needn’t say that, your excellent writing skills are my inspiration… Now waiting for your cat, please.


  5. Pingback: FIRE IN MY BELLY | bagofbrains

    • The cat’s right here, sitting on my lap. Actually, he keeps sticking his claws into my arm, I’m just not sure what the message is – ‘please write about me’ or ‘don’t you dare’!


    • Thanks, Cynthia! Funnily enough, I already eat a lot of those foods. The H. Pylori tests ended up coming back negative after doing the whole antibiotic etc treatment after an equivocal blood test, so I guess it’s most probably not that. I’d have to say that the gastroenterologist I’ve been seeing is not like the ones the lady on the blog encountered – he really takes his time, his first suggestions were based on dietary changes and he has even suggested acupuncture as a way of making the stomach pain – type symptoms more bearable. I may still get a second opinion if this persists. Wouldn’t hurt.


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