Lately, I’ve been having heartburn, stomach pain and vomiting. It started last year on Thanksgiving but wasn’t frequent, until February and March of this year. But the stomach pain and vomiting have become more and more frequent and my wife insisted I go to a doctor last week. I am glad I listened to her advice.
The doctor determined that I have gastritis (胃炎 i-en in Japanese, 위염 uiyeom in Korean). This means that the inside of my stomach is inflamed and irritated. It’s very likely caused by stress he said, and certain foods just make it worse, including all the spicy food and coffee I drink. But the origin of gastritis for me was stress.
The second-half of 2011 was extremely stressful for me. A lot of stress was from pressure from work, but also a lot of stress came from the JLPT N2 exam, which I spent all of last year studying for. Since I only get 1 chance a year, I didn’t want to fail, even when work became very intense during the Holidays. I believe that the combination of work + JLPT is why I got gastritis.
The good news is that gastritis is very treatable, and not that serious. If I leave it alone though, it will eventually become something worse like an ulcer. So, for the next 45 days, the doctor has asked me to avoid spicy foods, limit myself to 1 cup of coffee a day, and also find some ways to relax and relieve stress.
Plus, I now have to take a prescription-strength antacid every morning.
I remember the famous monk and teacher, Ajahn Brahm, once gave an online sermon that said “Don’t rush to your grave“. My gastritis and its cause remind me that Ajahn Brahm was right: we have to balance work and study with time to relax.
I didn’t even realize how tired I was. I slept 3 nights in a row for about 10-11 hours. I guess I’ve been pushing myself longer than I thought. Also, the day I met the doctor, I meditated that night for 10 minutes, and my stomach pain went away until the next morning. Although I wasn’t aware of my stress, apparently my body was responding to it.
I am not stopping the blog, but I might continue to slow down the pace for a while. Also, replies will continue to be a little slow.
Thanks everyone and take care of yourselves!
P.S. If you’re having stomach problems or heartburn for days/weeks, don’t try to treat it yourself. Go see a doctor. I waited months, thinking I could treat it myself, and now wish I had seen him sooner.