Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Journey with GI Issues, part 1

I have talked a lot (obviously, look at my previous post) about my struggles physically these past few months.  Really it has been nearly a year.

Well, yesterday, after my worst couple of days, I may have been given a lead.  So, before I go there, I need to go back to the beginning.  Not only for my sake in figuring it out, but to help someone, even one person, who is going through something similar.

June of 2011 I decided, after much denial, to go dairy and gluten free for my son Calvin.  Calvin was nearly a year old and suffering from reflux.  I'd lay in bed with him in the morning to nurse and KNOW I'd need a burp blanket near and ready to catch, soak, or wipe up whatever protruded from his little body.

Within days I noticed huge improvements.  It was enough to make me get more serious and look at all the labels and do whatever I could to support this change because it was not only saving me time and money (not as much laundry!) but I knew it was best for his development.  When Cal's therapists came, we'd actually get through sessions without the focus being on that!

Well, June turned in to November.  I had lost some weight, was beginning to add swimming to my nearly 15-20 mile running weeks, and also decided to buy a nice road bike and join the triathlon community.  I felt pretty good, minus the exhaustion of keeping up with work, Calvin's health, and a challenging diet.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were torture!  I just really wanted some tasty wheat and dairy!

I was a very stressed person last year.  A boy in kindergarten, working at a school with high needs, managing Cal's therapies, hospitalizations, chronic ear infections, nursing, sleepless nights, and a 3 year old just sprinkled in the mix, I was over all a miserable person merely trying to survive.

January rolled around and I started to physically change.  I did not place my finger on it right away.  I was craving my down time and celebrated survival with a gluten and dairy-free dessert nearly every evening.  I did a lot of baking.  And I also started doing something I had never done much of in my life, eating chips.

I would wake up with Calvin and was miserable.  I was tired, sure, but my stomach ached.  I ignored it, thinking I was just stressed and should not have eaten so late and just needed to get through until June.  Yep, 4 months.

Things never improved.  They did, however, become worse.

I finally started sharing my symptoms (the bloating and discomfort) with others.  I decided to go to the doctor.  I needed a physical anyway and I had not started menstruating yet.  Calvin was about 18 months old.  The other two were under a year - and I was nursing them plenty.

The doctors told me the lack of menstration was because of nursing and they were not worried (I saw 2 diff. doctors in the clinic I go to).  They did however order an ultrasound and xray to look at what was going on.  The verdict?  Severe constipation.  That was it.  I asked why?  I was told "I cannot tell you".  No one knew.  But I knew it was not right.  I knew, deep down, my lack of menstration and my bloating and constipation (something I'd never experienced before) were connected and not right.

I was referred to a gastroenterologist and also spoke with a co-work of my husband's.  This man is also a Naturopathic Doctor (ND).  Right away he said he suspected low stomach acid and said to take Betaine HCL.  This was in the beginning of June, 2012.  He also mentioned a possible candida yeast overgrowth but said I could not treat until I was done nursing.

Well, I had no intentions of stopping nursing yet but gave the HCL Betaine a try.  Within days I was empty.  I felt awesome!  What a simple fix!

Well, it lasted maybe 2 weeks and became sick with strep throat.  SO, here came an antibiotic.

I kept up with HCL, but different brands.

I became miserable once again.  I added in Smooth Moves teas, digestion teas, you name it.   Nothing was really helping.

The specialist mentioned fermentation to some foods but wanted to test dairy and gluten allergies.  I should have saved my money.  Nothing.  He also wanted me to eat fats and see how I felt.  So, I did.  I went to McDonalds and was miserable.  This all lead me to have a hidascan in August.  Nothing.  Felt fine, looked fine, was fine.

I have not seen him since.  It was not going to lead me down a path of healing.  I became desperate.  So, I started seeing an ND in a near by town, Osceola.  She helped me develop a plan for symptom management.  I goes like this: In one day eat 5 servings of protein, 1 serving of grains, 2 fruits, tons of level 1 veggies (low sugar ones like broccoli, not butternut squash), only water to drink, and that was about it.

Within days I felt amazing.  She adding in a lot of supplements as well.

I am going to stop here for this post.  Next time I'll post about the supplements and what has happened in the past 10-11 weeks.  It has been quite the learning curve for me.


  1. You don't know me, but I've been silently following you for a bit. I don't have children, but I am pregnant with my first baby. I'm so, so sorry about your GI issues. I understand - I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease 2 years ago. It's so very difficult to discuss GI issues with anyone; I mean, come'on, it's poo talk. I struggled for months with feeling like my body had totally failed me, then with rage, depression. Oh, I hope you have figured out your GI problems. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Wow...you have been through so much. I am praying for some answers to find peace with this all..just a break. The power of stress is crazy too...it can do such horrible damage to the body as well. But controlling that is something I have yet to figure out. GI issues are hard to figure out too. You are amazing for all you have been through and continue to do. You are stronger than you realize.

  3. So glad you are starting to get some relief!!!