In the summer of 2014 I started to get really bad digestive issues. I was bloating like crazy (like seriously, to a bizarre 5-months-pregnant level), having pain, gas, and all kinds of other uncomfortable and embarrassing stuff. I eliminated dairy to see if that helped, and it did but only to a minor extent. I finally I made an appointment with a GI doctor after talking to friends that also have digestive issues and doing some of my own research.
I saw the doctor in August and he ran a couple of tests. I had to specifically request the SIBO test, I think because it’s just still not that common/accepted amongst MDs. I also got a celiac test. My celiac test was negative, but it did come back showing I was positive for one of the genetic markers that can make you susceptible to celiac.
I completed the SIBO breath test and sent it into the lab to get analyzed. A few weeks later I got a call from my doctor that I was positive for SIBO, and immediately was prescribed Xifaxin. A few days later my symptoms were GONE. Miraculous. I was amazed and so freaking happy! What isn’t happy is how expensive that antibiotic is, and I ended up having to send in my tax return forms to get the price down based on my income level. That was annoying, but hey – it helped!
After that my symptoms were a ton better, with only some lingering IBS to deal with. SIBO has a fairly high recurrence rate, and now that it’s been about two years I figured I should give you a SIBO update!
I haven’t gotten SIBO again!! This is the best part. Anyone that has struggled with SIBO knows how terrible it is — you just feel disgusting all the time. It has embarrassing symptoms and you start to get scared of eating anything. So I’m extremely lucky and glad it hasn’t returned.
My IBS is still around, but it’s not too bad. After SIBO, nothing seems that bad! I have found that eating a low fodmap diet helps tremendously. I haven’t ever done a specific elimination diet to see exactly which foods are bothering me, but I’ve been able to figure out some. I am not perfect about it, but the meals I cook for myself are always low fodmap. When I’m out to dinner or at some event I’ll stray a bit, having a dessert or a beer now and then. I don’t feel fantastic after those times, but it’s not bad enough to have me miss that normalcy and fun.
I’ve noticed some other little health issues that make me wonder if some inflammation or absorption issues in my gut are having a bigger impact. My concentration and focus isn’t great, I’ve been getting some pretty regular orthostatic hypotension, my sleep isn’t very restful and I require a lot, I’ve had some joint pain, and my energy isn’t very high. All of those things could be literally nothing. I was raised by physician parents that say, “Sometimes you just don’t feel great. Don’t be a hypochondriac,” and while I totally get that, I also take a more holistic approach to my health. I know that the gut has a bigger affect on our whole bodies that is commonly thought, so I’d love to see if some of this is related.
I’ve been thinking about doing a little more experimentation with my diet to see if that helps. I just recently ordered some good digestive enzymes, probiotics, and cod liver oil. I also have started to regularly use my Great Lakes grass fed beef gelatin in my coffee (thanks for the idea, Julie!) to see if the collagen helps.
I tried oatmeal for breakfast for a few days, (because it’s cheap and I want to save money!) and it doesn’t sit well with me at all. It’s like a huge rock in my stomach and I feel lethargic afterward. Bummer. I haven’t had those same issues with other low-fodmap grains like rice or quinoa, but it definitely leaves me wondering. Then I read Grain Brain which just totally messed with me. I have a lot to say about that book. For now I’ll leave it at: the first thing you should do when you read some diet or nutrition related book is google the critiques of it! Always get the full picture!
So nothing major has been changed/decided at the moment. I know that this year of school will be a bit…lame…for me. Between regular classes + studying for boards + research project + OSR liaison position + some yoga teaching + blog, I will have plenty to keep me busy, so I don’t know how much of a social life I’ll really have. I need to make sure I get some social stuff (hi friends, I love you!) , but it may be easier to avoid the fodmap-y stuff since I won’t have as much time to be out and about. I can see it as being a good time to try to actually stick to some dietary changes and actually see if something helps. We’ll see.
So that’s the update. Let me know if you have any other questions! For more info, check out my IBS & Digestion Reading List!