Mardi Gras and The Mind Body Connection

I met my wife, Louanne at a law school TGIF party in an Uptown bar called Brunos.  As I poured her a beer from the keg we introduced ourselves.  She said she was from Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I told her I was originally from Avon, Connecticut.  She said she knew about Avon Old Farms (my high school) because one of her mother’s piano students went there. I knew him.  We discussed how weird he was.  We started dating soon after.

During spring semester Mardi Gras rolled around the school shut down for the week.  My apartment had a balcony overlooking the parade route on St. Charles Avenue so it became a popular hang out spot.  Louanne spent the week.  We made a trip to her basement apartment she rented from the Dean of the law school.  When we got there he stood in his driveway dressed in a Soviet officer’s uniform.  We offered him a beer (everyone had beer in their backpacks that week).  He produced a flask and asked us if we wanted to “spice up” our beers.  We said yes and he poured vodka in our cans.

A month or so later one drunken night I asked her if she wanted to marry me.  She said yes.  The next day she called her parents and told them.  That sort of made things more real than I had anticipated.  We planned on getting married the summer between second and third year.

My second year in law school I lived in the same apartment.  Ed moved out and Louanne moved in.  Later that year I took out a student loan.  The debt made me anxious.  I also began to realize that I was not doing as well academically as I expected despite my efforts.  I was passing all my classes but I was still just barely in the top half of my class.  This made me anxious as well.  The reality that I would be getting married also made me anxious.  Then some woman rear-ended my car on the way to class.  She did not have insurance and I did not have collision.  I opened the trunk and then could not close it.  I shut it with a bungee chord but every time I drove over a bump the trunk flew open and slammed shut.  I felt embarrassed and angry that someone else did this to me and I had to deal with it.

One day I woke up and my throat felt constricted.  I thought it would pass but a week later it was still there.  I went to a Gastroenterologist.  He examined me with an endoscope and did not find anything wrong with me. He told me it was stress.  I did understand what he told me.  In my mind there had to be a physical cause and medical solution to my symptoms.  I went to another Gastroenterologist.  He put a tube up through my nose and down my throat attached to a computer.  I wore that device overnight.  This doctor also told me stress caused my symptoms.

The next Mardi Gras was coming up.  I worried that the symptoms would not go away before then and I would not be able to enjoy myself.  I feared I would be missing out.

My friend Al had a party in at his apartment.  We got drunk on Chevas Regal in a blue felt bag.  My throat still felt constricted but I tried to numb out the feeling with booze.  I ended up throwing up under a rug in his apartment.  I crashed at his place.  The next morning I was so hung-over Louanne and I slipped out and went home.  Al found what I had left him under the rug later in the day.

My last Gastroenterologist sent me to a cardiologist.  I sat in the waiting room.  I finally asked them if they knew I was there.  They said they overlooked me.  I went back into an examination room where a nurse shaved my chest and attached the monitoring equipment.  They found nothing wrong.  The Doctor came in.  He could tell I was exasperated.  He told me my symptoms were stress related and recommended a psychiatrist.  This time I heard the message.

I saw the psychiatrist.  When I told him my symptoms he knew right away what the problem was.  I saw him weekly for about a month and the symptoms started to go away.  This was the first time in my life I began to understand the connection between the mind and physical symptoms.

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