Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Almost-40 Realization #1: I'm Whine Intolerant

Nearly four years ago, a few months after the birth of my second child and right as I was about to return to work after maternity leave, I started to experience stomach pains unlike anything I'd experienced before.

It was a pervasive ache, running the full length of the stomach, piercing through to the back, and accompanied by a sudden tenderness around the rib cage. And there was no relief - not Tums, not Zantac, not Prevacid, not Alka-Seltzer. I felt like I was in digestive purgatory and in major need of a nap.

When I consulted my doctor (okay, that's a bit of a stretch, because I will admit that I don't have a primary care physician, just an OBGYN) she said that it's not infrequent for gallbladders to act up after having a baby, so off I went for a sonogram. All clear.

As the months and then years went by, the stomach aches continued, off and on. I had an endoscopy (how cool is anesthesia? I was fascinated that one minute I was counting backwards from 10 and the next I was in the recovery room) and some kind of body scan that required downing 2 vile liters of Barium Something Or Other (not so cool although I still have the complimentary tin of feel-better mints from NYU Hospital) and everything, thank goodness, came up negative.

It seemed that the occasional bout of Rot Gut (my technical term) was my destiny.

It wasn't until Spring Break last year - three years after my first bout -- that a diagnosis came. And I didn't need a primary care physician, a gastroenterologist, or a sonogram technician to figure it out -- it was my husband. Day 4 with the kids was also Day 4 of consistent Rot Gut and it was then and there that my husband had the lightbulb moment - it's not an ulcer, it's not your gallbladder, it's not a muscle pull, IT'S THE KIDS.

Some people are wheat intolerant, some are lactose intolerant, I am whine intolerant. Every whine, every unreasonable harrumph and every eye roll is like another knife in the gut. Sometimes even happy shrieks can aggravate an already irritated system.

But while you can make gluten-free cookies and switch to Spelt bread, or pick up Lactaid in place of your usual 1%, you cannot get whine-free kids. So, I continue to suffer quietly, but as I get older and see others struggling with far greater health issues, I can endure the occasional Rot Gut with the great peace of mind's only the kids.

(image from


  1. Thank you so much for diagnosing my current seems I am "Whine Intolerant" as well. What is the treatment? babysitter stat? massage? stiff drink? : )

  2. Seriously? Am I not alone? That's comforting.

    All of the above help, especially the last - but sometimes none of these things are available or appropriate when Rot gut strikes. One thing that has helped overall - Lower Your Expectations of Yourself.

    Feel the Rot Gut coming on? Do not persevere with plans to take the kids to Stride Rite. Do not argue if your daughter wants to wear a Lilly Pulitzer cotton dress in February. Do not keep your coat on too long while trying to get everyone else dressed.

    Would love to compare notes sometime...thanks for leaving a comment!

  3. hi! it's mikele in portland, or ... i had the same thing begin the year we moved. they said "gallbladder" did all the same tests. it was stress, compounded by the constant requirement of the superhuman strength needed to keep two small babies alive & healthy. the idea that it was stress occurred to me just as we were readying to show the house to sell & i had my first ocular migraine. a temporary loss of peripheral vision to oscillating lights.

    as i sit here writing i am suffering a small amount 'rot gut', as those babies are now 7 & i just pulled them from all their friends & put them in what we hope is a more appropriate learning environment.

    their discontent pulls at our hearts in such a way that is both annoying & heartbreaking at the same time i suppose, which is why we take it so personally & pull it so deep into our bodies.

    stay well!