It all started when I was about 12-13. I am not sure what initially set it off, but I think it was a combination of nerves and being seriously beaten by either my dad or bullies that may have caused a rupture in my stomach wall. I had stomach pains from sixth grade that got worse in junior high. It was played off as "an attempt to get out of school" or "worrying too much." Eventually, the pain got so bad, the school got involved and my mother was forced to take me to a doctor. "Sounds like a serious ulcer," I recall my pediatrician saying (yes, I saw a pediatrician until at age 15, until he finally told my mother he refused to see me anymore), "but how can a kid your age have an ulcer?" My mother tried her very best to get me to "wish the pain away." At first, she tried scaring me like I was some little kid trying to fool her. "I dunno..." she said with that eye like a mother trying to trap a kid in a lie, "...if this is real, they will put NEEDLES in you... and you may NEVER be allowed to eat CAKE a gain.. you like cake, riiiight...?"
Oh no! I like cake! But try as I might, my stomach hurt too bad.
When that didn't work, she tried outright bribery, "I will give you those Lego sets you wanted if you tell the doctor that you are okay." But I was apparently "stubborn," even though I really wanted those Lego sets.
Long story short, I had a massive ulcer that required a lot of medication. I also needed surgery, but my mother was afraid of telling my father, so she did what she could to cover it up. There had been "the scoliosis disaster" recently where a school screener caught me with a bent spine. It was later determined that my spine was bent in such a way that wasn't much of a threat. But in the X-ray, they discovered all these large unusual bumps in my skull, and they wanted to run more tests. My father would have none of that, since he likened the whole experience to that of a mechanic trying to get him to buy new tires when he KNEW he didn't need them. My father rubbed this in my mother's face as how the entire medical industry was run by crooks who made up stuff. I was "obviously fine and trying to draw attention to myself," and in his defense, the only thing these bumps ever did was prevent me from getting a crew cut. Because of this, when they had scoliosis screening, I was told to say I was having it treated by a medical professional even though it was never brought up in our house again. So to have surgery for a tummy ache! The nerve! I was obviously a shy trickster, in league with the AMA.
So I was put on a lot of really, really horrible medications that tasted like metallic chalk, earwax, and flavors to this day have no comparison. One of the side effects of this illness was it destroyed parts of my stomach because the medication was almost as bad as the ulcer. It ruined the ability to create certain enzymes, so dense vegetable matter like corn and beans tend to block up my intestines and create horrible cramping and gas as they sit and ferment in my stomach. But unprocessed eggs are the worst. Like eggs in cakes and stuff are okay, but if I eat a plate of scrambled eggs without anything else to break it down (like a lot of bread), will create some of the worst cramping imaginable. I have often thought if a bean and corn omelet existed, and I actually foolishly ate it, I would die like I'd been hit by Pei Mei's "Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique."
But the biggest side effect was it hit the center that tells me when I am hungry. The area most damaged by the ulcer (near my GI tract) means that I have no concept of "satiety," which means nothing tells my poor and often misunderstood hypothalamus when I am empty or full. Thus, over the years, I lost the ability to know when to eat. Around the same time this happened, my mother started drinking a lot more, and often she'd be completely incapacitated for up to a week at a time. When she was sober, she often overfed me to compensate for her guilt. The medicine made me gain a lot of weight, too, so eventually I stopped eating to compensate. It's easy to stop eating when you don't feel hunger. Also, bullies that used to beat me up for my lunch may still have pounded on me, but they never got lunch except when my mother made them for me. That gave me some satisfaction.
Eventually, I could go days without eating. I went down from 315 pounds to about 160 in two and a half years. I wouldn't say I was anorexic per se, but there was always some freakish inner challenge that was thrilled if I went over 3 days without food. Of course, I suffered greatly in other areas. I was always tired and listless in class, and had spasmodic blackouts where I'd forget hours at a time. My home life was terrible, but lack of food probably didn't help my depression. By age 14, I was seriously depressed and had by first suicide attempt at that age. Getting bad grades didn't help, as I rarely did homework. I just sat in my room, friendless, staring at the ceiling until I drifted off or morning came. Often, I'd sit alone in the cafeteria at the edge of a table, doing some homework or whatever.
Even when things looked up, and Child Protective Services got involved, I didn't eat that much. I ate probably about one meal a day on average until I got married at age 20. Then takayla's "three meals a day" put me into shock, and I went from 186 to 325 I am now. The thing that kept me from starving also doesn't tell me when I am full.
My ulcer never really went away. Sometimes it stays away for years. But a few times a year, when I am under stress, it comes back. Feels like a hard lump for about a week, which steadily starts to hurt like a torn muscle, followed by heartburn, acid reflux, and stinky burps. If I let it go to long, or I start to freak out over something, it makes me nauseous. But after self-medication, usually antacids and eating lots of bread over a few days, it goes away. Pepcid Complete is the best OTC yet.
Sadly, and the whole reason I posted this long sob story, is I still feel no hunger. What's that like? Well, I have to rely on other clues to remind me to eat. Looking at food is always one of them, like when other are eating. When I am bored and crave stimulation is another, which is never a good thing. But what happens when I am isolated with nothing to remind me of food and I am not bored? How long can I go without eating? It used to be a few days, but these days, I think I can only got about 15-20 hours before I start to feel dizzy. So, even since about age 16 or so, I have equated dizziness with eating. It's very easy to overeat when your hunger signs are re-wired. If the color red was a trigger to eat, I would imagine I would always eat when Santa or Carmen Sandiego were around. So when I get sick and I am dizzy for other reasons... this is not so good. I would imagine if I had a head injury and was stumbling around feeling dizzy, I'd eat until I exploded. Yesterday, I just kept wanting to eat, even though I was full... because I am dizzy due to a bad sinus infection.
And that's annoying!