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Today finds me at the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy Center, part of  the University of Rochester Medical Center.


I’m here for a hydrogen breath test which tests for lactose intolerance and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). I’m here because I complained to my primary doctor that my belly issues are still not completely gone. So this seemed a simple test.

Yesterday I ate white bread, white rice, white potatoes, plain, baked chicken breast, unflavored black coffee and water.  I have had nothing by mouth since 7:55 p.m. last night. I got up today and brushed my teeth at 5:55 a.m. (it had to be two hours before my test). And they ask if you’ve done all this. I took my prescription medications this morning with the tiniest sip of water.

So here I sit. My side of the room is all people who are doing the breath test. All of us are starving. Every twenty minutes we get called into the room behind the brown door on the right in the photo. We exhale into a handheld device attached to a plastic bag and then go back out and sit down and wait to be called again. This goes on for three hours.

We all drank a sugar (lactulase) solution when we got here, and our bodies are now digesting it. The exhales test for the hydrogen in our breath. As you digest, your body breaks things down. A high hydrogen level indicates something isn’t working right.

My belly is percolating at the moment. I’m not sure if that’s hunger or something the lactulase is brewing up. I guess we’ll see. I hope it’s not gas. This waiting room is crowded.

Mostly this is just boring.


I’ll let you know how I make out. I just want to go eat!