After two years of determination, I finally feel like a healthy person (again)…or maybe for the first time ever! It has been two years since my SIBO diagnosis and five years since I was originally diagnosed with “IBS”. But the truth is, I was dealing with poor health much earlier- I just never knew that my symptoms weren’t normal. Or that they were all related to my gut health.
I used to think that migraines were my destiny because they ran in my family. That acne was just part of being a teenager…and then adult. That menstrual cramps and Midol were the way of life for a menstruating female. And that seasonal allergies just happened to some people.
Eventually my symptoms kept piling up until I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I was miserable- my legs itched so badly that they would bleed. But I couldn’t stop itching them. The only way to suppress the pain and fall back asleep after the itching woke me up on a nightly basis was to take Benadryl, numb my legs with ice packs, and hope that I fell asleep before the numbness went away.
I had to give up many things that I enjoyed because my symptoms made them miserable and embarrassing. I discontinued my membership at a yoga studio I loved. I stopped playing racquetball. I abandoned social activities because my symptoms were unpredictable. I even declined a lucrative career opportunity. And the list goes on.
When western medicine failed to provide me with anything more than a “you’ll just have to learn to deal with this for the rest of your life,” I started searching for alternatives. I was fortunate to find a caring, bright naturopathic doctor who pointed me in the right direction when she diagnosed me with SIBO.
Receiving a diagnosis of “SIBO” was a turning point in my health. I finally had some sort of understanding of what was happening inside my body and some hope that it could be changed. I began seeing improvement in my health immediately- a stark contrast to the seemingly never-ending addition of symptoms I had been experiencing for several years.
The initial stages of healing involved treatment with antibiotics followed by herbal antimicrobials. For a long period of time during my treatment, I was reliant on their use along with an extremely strict and unsustainable dietary regimen. Eventually, I was able to transition off the antimicrobials and have remained off of them since. I am now to a point where I can maintain my health with just two supplements: probiotics and fish oil.
I believe that the keys to my successful healing have been the following:
- The right supplements (and pharmaceutical drugs when necessary) at the right times.
- Eating a well-balanced diet that is dynamic and catered to my gut health.
- Listening to my body by learning to interpret and biohack its cues.
- Allowing myself to go at a pace of life where I can maintain good health.
- Time- and learning that patience truly is a virtue.
- Reducing toxic exposure- clean household products, kitchenware, beauty products, etc.
- Drinking adequate fluids.
Basically, the past two years I have been taking exceptionally good care of myself.
When I tell you that “I finally feel like a healthy person,” I have to put things into perspective and make some clarifications. What I mean by “healthy” is that my symptoms are well-controlled. It is similar to the saying “putting an autoimmune disease in remission.” If I went out and abandoned all of my healthy behaviors for an extended period of time, I would surely wind up back where I started. The susceptibility is still there.
The majority of my meals are still prepared at home using foods that I am more likely to tolerate, but I can also frequently enjoy meals out with friends. I can even get away with an occasional late night here and there (and by that I mean home by midnight). And I can do these things with zero or minimal symptomatic repercussions.
I think it would help paint the picture by sharing the symptoms that I have seen improve over the past two years. It is not to say that I no longer get any of them, but some are completely gone while others appear infrequently and I have simple remedies for making them go away.
Here’s the list of symptoms/conditions that have improved as my gut has healed:
- Food sensitivities
- Menstrual cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Seasonal allergies
- Chronic muscle pain
When I was first diagnosed with SIBO over two years ago, I was told that I would have to remain on a severely restricted diet for several years (maybe even 5-10) in order to fully heal my gut. At the time it seemed like an eternity. It seemed overwhelming. And it certainly hasn’t been easy. But it has been worth it. My symptoms have improved dramatically and I no longer feel crippled by my health conditions. Instead, I feel powerful, strong, and HEALTHY!
Ready to make big changes for your health? Feel free to ask me about how to get started or for troubleshooting tips! Beginning summer 2016, I will begin offering nutritional counseling services so that I can help others find the healthiest versions of themselves.