Towards the end of 2018, I set out to find answers and to seek help. I was finally done with suffering and just accepting it as my reality. I wanted to feel happy and healthy again or in some cases for the first time. Healing isn’t easy though even when you finally have those answers at your fingertips. It’s an uphill battle, but the reward at the end is spectacular!
Several things have happened to me in the past 8.5 years that have led to my suffering. It seemed that right around the time I drove out to Oregon from Philadelphia for my big move out west, I started having severe digestive problems that wouldn’t go away.
I went to many doctors over the past 8.5 years and got endoscopies, colonoscopies, did elimination diets, and other less pleasant things I won’t mention. None of the doctors could find anything wrong with me. The elimination diet didn’t improve my symptoms. In the meantime, I picked up extreme stomach bugs in Ecuador, Cambodia, Thailand, Peru, and Guatemala (all on separate trips spanning 7 years). So it only got worse.
Also, in the span of those 8.5 years I experienced some other harrowing things that deeply affected my mental health. This involved experiencing sexual assault when doing my Masters research in Ecuador in 2011. Then in 2013, I worked on a ranch in the Australian Outback for an extremely abusive woman, who verbally abused me constantly calling me stupid and slow. I felt like Cinderella. Follow that up with returning to the states and getting a job with another abusive supervisor for the following 2.5 years! Needless to say I’ve suffered physically and mentally.
My life hasn’t been all suffering though. I’ve had amazing adventures around the world, married the best partner ever, and now have the job of my dreams. Unfortunately, all that suffering has clouded my mind with negativity and pain making it hard to truly enjoy the good times I’m experiencing. So about three months ago, I said enough is enough and I sought help!
My main motivating factor was the idea of trying to grow a child in my womb when it’s a toxic environment currently. Also, I couldn’t imagine passing my toxic stress on to my child. Luckily, my new job’s health insurance allows coverage for naturopathic doctors. So, I finally made an appointment with one in October. She immediately knew what was wrong with my digestion based on my symptoms. She sent me to take the test for SIBO and it came back positive.
If you have SIBO or you know someone with it, you know how similar everyone’s stories are. Years of not knowing what’s wrong and doctors telling you that you have IBS. Then finally you’re diagnosed right and you feel relieved only to find out that it’s not so easy to cure. It involves antibiotics or natural medication then an intense elimination diet with tons of supplements and a 50% chance you’ll relapse.
SIBO is normally caused by getting food poisoning at some point that throws off the bacteria in your lower intestine causing an overgrowth of bad bacteria. This means nothing you eat digests right and ferments in your lower intestine causing either a methane or hydrogen production. You feel bloated, gas-y, diarrhea, constipation, and your body isn’t absorbing nutrients from your food.
Currently, I’m on my second round of antibiotics, because my insurance wouldn’t cover the full 14 days required. I’m also following the SIBO diet I found on this website: The SIBO Solution. It requires giving up gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol and many other foods that are hard to digest. My Naturopath told me to do the diet for 3 months than slowly start reintroducing foods and seeing if they cause issues. I also take probiotics without prebiotic, digestive enzymes and other supplements that help return healthy function and bacteria to your intestines, so you don’t relapse.
I’m determined to heal my gut! I am already feeling significantly better. It’s not easy though, especially when you’re out to eat. You can’t eat much restaurant food and that’s frustrating. At home I make simple meals like baked salmon with roasted delicata squash and green beans or baked chicken in lemon, rosemary, and olive oil with acorn squash and zucchini. I found some great recipes on Pinterest as well, for pork loin paella with brown rice, red bell pepper and tomatoes. Just eat simple real food, nothing processed. My husband is doing it with me and he feels great!
I do miss wine, cheese, bread, ice cream, garlic, pickles, and chips!! Healing is so important to me though. I’m looking at as a mama bird building the perfect nest for her baby birds to hatch in. My future baby will be grateful I built her/him the best nest to grow in.
The other part of this healing is mental health. I need to overcome the trauma and stress I’ve carried with me for so long. I knew I needed to see a therapist, but felt hesitant. Then while at a networking event for work, I met a woman who is a Life Coach. I immediately felt comfortable talking to her and knew it was meant to be. So, I established care with her and it is changing my life.
I’m working on my mind, body, and spirit! I am working on loving myself inside and out and overcoming the negative voices in my head. It’s such important work! We are expected to just grin and bear it so much in life, but that isn’t healthy. Women especially accept that we are supposed to suffer and take care of everyone, but ourselves. I’m tired of living that way though. I want to be happy and feel healthy!