***I will start this by saying- I’m not a doctor. If you have any prolonged GI symptoms, it is crucial to see a regular gastroenterologist. I still see mine annually and have colonoscopies/endoscopes every two years. My naturopath is amazing but it’s imperative to visit a regular GI, too***
This post is something that I thought would take me a long time to write as it is very personal. I’m less than a month into blogging and decided now is the time to put it all out there. Perhaps my experience could help someone. Here is the abbreviated version, because, as you can see- it’s anything but short.
I have struggled with GI issues since my early teens. If you name the GI issue- I’m certain I was diagnosed with it- acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (Types C and Type A), gastroparesis, false-negative Celiac (does that even make sense?!?!), and the list goes on. In college, I had an impacted colon- which was quite possibly the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. (The verdict isn’t out yet as I have yet to experience childbirth) My twenties would bring several more painful impactions.
While very sick in college, my GI swore she would find that I had Crohn’s Disease. I have a friend who has been suffering from Crohn’s since childhood. I knew what I was experiencing wasn’t the same as what he lives with daily (He is a bad-ass, super-human warrior). I didn’t have fevers or any of the other horrific symptoms of Crohn’s. I tested negative for all inflammatory bowel diseases. (Which is such a blessing, and I am thankful for that everyday). I didn’t want to have a pity party as I’m sure there are tons of people who wish all they had was a bunch of benign GI issues.
I spent years- literally years- dealing with bloat, nausea, extreme constipation, bowel blockages, bleeding, loss of appetite, and stomach pains. I saw a naturopath when I was 24, and he put me on a gluten-free diet. I stuck to it for almost 6 years. It helped, but I would still suffer from symptoms 4-5 days a week. I knew that every morning when I woke up, there would be about a 70% chance that I would spend time ill in the bathroom before heading off to work. It was routine. I would be so sick some mornings, but my colonoscopies found that I was severely constipated to the point of bowel impaction.
My GI alternated meds based on my symptoms. I would take Reglan (40mg twice a day) to help speed up my digestion. I’m not even sure if Reglan is still on the market as the FDA had some pretty stern warnings about this stuff. I also took an anti-sposmadic and alternated between Xifaxan and Linzess. I took a daily acid-reducer. I was even put on steroids several times. At age 29, I thought I was just coming to terms with reality. I have IBS- alternating type. Lots of people suffer from it, and I should probably just stop complaining. The other stuff was just symptom to that. There was not much I could do besides suck it up, take these meds, and stop complaining. As I mentioned above, I have a friend who has severe Crohn’s. I should just be lucky I don’t.
Then, this past summer, I decided I was going to make a change. No playing the martyr. No making excuses. A friend recommended a Naturopath in our area. I had already been to one in college so I wasn’t sold. I figured she could help me stop taking some of these meds at the very least. I am a healthy, active person who hates being on any sort of unnecessary medicine. How had all of these GI meds become necessary?
I told her that I was down to do anything to help take control of my stomach. The Naturopath did a series of blood work. She was testing for things like candida and other things a normal GI doesn’t. I also did a 4-day stool study. (I did say I would do anything, right?)
Here was her theory: Over-medicated as a child to combat ear infections and sinus infections, my GI system had become a mess. She found that I had high amounts of small-intestine bacteria overgrowth, SIBO. The probiotics I was taking were actually feeding the SIBO, not helping it. The Xifaxan I was on would kill the bacteria initially, only to have it grow back twice as strong. She also suspected I had a dairy intolerance. Which I laughed at- I passed several lactobreath tests with flying colors. (Life over, I thought). The small amount of dairy I was consuming was causing diarrhea that almost masked the real issue- severe constipation caused by the SIBO. She gave me a treatment plan that I committed to 100%.
I did not consume any dairy for almost 4 months. Now, I only eat small amounts dairy- only if it is in baked goods. (A girl needs her occasional bagel, am I right?) My skin completely purged, and broke out for the first two months. But now, my skin is the best it’s ever been (Added bonus).I also stick to a pretty tight regiment of supplements. I work with the naturopath every three months and am hopeful to get down to fewer supplements in the next few months.
I find the organization is key to staying on track. Investing in a pill organizer makes it easy to remember to take supplements
Here are the supplements I take daily:
**The amounts vary! Heartburn Free is only taken as needed, every other day, for 2 weeks**
Same as the morning with one addition.
Moral of my story- take time to understand your body. Don’t settle for feeling sick. Changes are often uncomfortable, but they also should help you grow. If you’re in the Fairfield County area and looking for an incredible naturopath, shoot me a message.
Above is a picture of me doing two things I never could do before- drink coffee and run early in the morning.