I have been wanting to write about this for quite some time, but have always came up with excuses to hold off – I am a horrible writer, I ramble, I can’t tell the difference between 1st person and 3rd person – you get the idea.
I have always prided myself on being an open book about pretty much everything, and this particular part of my life has been all-consuming for the past 2 decades. I have had gut issues that cause me severe pain since I was 14 years old. I remember frequently laying on our brown corduroy couch where I would push from my ribcage down to my pelvic bone and you could hear “bubbles” popping, moving. It was the weirdest sensation (and one that I still encounter). I didn’t know what those “bubbles” were, but I knew that they hurt and that if I could move them around with the pressure of my hands, I would get a smidge of relief.
When I was 21 years old, I ended up in the Emergency room, still without answers as to why the pain would sometimes bring me to my knees. On that particular incident, I was folded over unable to stand up straight with such sharp pains that it was near impossible to get a deep breath. Doctors gave me fluids and sent me on my way.
As I got older and finished my degree in Exercise Science, I wanted to learn more and more about the body, nutrition, and what ailment I could be dealing with. In 2011, I chose to try eating gluten and dairy free, which helped, but didn’t completely alleviate, my symptoms. In 2013, someone in my life was diagnosed with Chron’s disease and I decided that I was on a mission to finally figure out what on earth is wrong with me. Why can I feel ok one minute and be bloated to looking 5 months pregnant the next? Why would I have constipation that lasted days on end even though I ate clean, kept fiber where it should be, and stayed hydrated? Why do I have chronic inflammation and subcutaneous water retention that comes and goes as it pleases? Just . . . why?
So, in March 2014 I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy and was diagnosed with Celiac disease. This was a very odd diagnosis considering I had been 100% gluten free for years – even the doctor was baffled that I had obvious remnants in my system. Since gluten had already been removed, I asked the doctor what else could be causing me so much pain. I received the notorious answer . . . “IBS, here is a prescription for your constipation”. In my world, I call IBS “I Bull Shit”. I believe that there is always some underlying issue or stress or something that causes the symptoms and that no one should just roll over and accept them as normal.
In the summer of 2014, I began to work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner from the United Kingdom. We ran a stool test and found that I had SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) which we eradicated with natural remedies. I also followed with an elimination diet where I ate a total of 10 different foods for 30 days. The first 2 weeks I felt amazing! And the second 2 weeks I was in pure agony, curled over in pain for most of it. It made no sense – how could I feel so great and then feel so awful without changing a single thing.
The picture on the left is a bad day, the picture on the right is a good day. Could be hours apart, maybe a day or two.
In January 2015, my inflammation and weight gain went a bit haywire regardless of no change in my training or diet. So, in May 2015, I began working with an acupuncturist who decreased my training volume drastically, took out all vegetables, and had me eating over 70% of my diet as starchy carbs. Sure enough, I dropped the weight and started to feel a little better. This lasted for a few months until my gut started to hurt again and I stopped responding to the acupuncture and herbs. So, I began working with yet another doctor in December 2015.
Currently, I am working with both a local doctor and the one in the United Kingdom still searching for answers. It was recently confirmed that I have a large intestinal bacterial infection as well as a small intestine infection and was put on a 2 week course of antibiotics. Needless to say, I don’t feel any better and the doctor’s suspect that I did not eradicate the infections . . . and that is where I am today.
Why was this so important for me to share? I want my clients, my friends, my family, to know that I get it. I get what it feels like to fight what feels like a losing battle. I understand how hard it is to keep trying to find answers when all you want to do is give up. I know what 1 step forward, 2 steps back feels like. I wanted to tell me story so that others might have some hope to get up and keep fighting, keep looking for answers. I have to believe that there is healing and that this is not my destiny, and I hope that if you are dealing with your own struggles that you keep fighting too.