I'm known for putting off doctors appointments. For some reason, I absolutely can't do the whole doctor thing. I have a history of fainting after shots, I need to request to go to "the back room" to get blood drawn so I can fully recline and look at the picture on the wall, all that good stuff. However, the gastroenterologist is not an appointment I was trying to put off. The wait to see one at my medical center is 2+ months! If that's not a signal that something is really wrong with the way we're feeding and treating out bodies, I don't know what is.
One day, about a month ago, I had off of work and I was just feeling horrible. I was bloated, sore, and couldn't get out of my mind enough to concentrate on anything. Because my appointment was booked so far out in the calendar, I was playing the balancing act game of how long can I be okay with this and do life? That day was the breaking point. I drove down to my doctor and went to urgent care to go find myself a gastroenterologist, spoiler alert, I always get what I want. Upon arrival, they told me a gastroenterologist would not be able to be called down, that they were too busy, do I still want to wait? I said yes. If I could be seen by a normal doctor in urgent care, then I could possibly weasel my way into the gastro department.
One urine test (because everyone seemed to think I was pregnant, not just bloated), a blood panel, and a lot of gross noises from my Urgent Care neighbors later, I got an appointment in the gastroenterology department.
Being the doctor-phobe that I am, seeing the doctor after a morning spent in urgent care put my sensitive body into freak out overdrive. I was pretty much an emotional wreck and his team probably thought I was crazy! After telling my doctor's assistant about my current discomfort, I told my longwinded story to the doctor -- my father passed away from colon cancer, as did my maternal grandfather. My maternal first cousin has many stomach issues and had large polyps removed at the age of 26 after spending nights in the hospital with what was finally diagnosed as diverticulitis. I let him know about my history with IBS, told him the story you can read one post back, and we went from there.
He felt around my stomach, did all the normal doctor stuff, and gave me the following checklist of things to do:
- CT scan
- Celiac disease panel
- Stool studies (parasites // some others with crazy names)
- Food allergy panel
- Thyroid function (which at a high level has been clear)
- Vitamin B12 level
So far, I've completed the top 2 -- the CT scan and colonoscopy -- plus an MRI (which let me tell you was NOT FUN) to rule out anything major, very important because colon cancer runs on BOTH sides of my family. A lot of gross liquids and stress on my bod later, everything thankfully checked out okay and the intussusception found in the CT scan passed naturally. The bummer to note is that I actually had two small polyps in my duodenum that they couldn't remove because a special scope is needed to do so. The good news is, there is no urgency here, everything has been biopsied and is a-okay, but I will have to go back in the next year or so to get that taken care of.
On top of the tests, I've been sticking to a mostly low fodmap diet to see if that helps and also to find out my trigger foods when I reintroduce higher fodmap foods back into my routine. Quick update here, I have been on for almost a month now. Let me tell you, I did not ease into it gracefully, nor have I perfected it. Now, I'm not sure if it's finally ditching the bone broth (w/ garlic and onion in it), or if it's one of the numerous other things I've been doing (like the infrared sauna), but it's finally starting to help. The best advice I can share here is to try your hardest, but don't stress out or try to "perfect" the diet. This is REALLY tough coming from a virgo, who likes to do everything perfectly. There is a lot of different information about going low fodmap and which foods in what amounts is okay. I recommend downloading the app from Monash University. It takes stress away from grocery shopping and is super easy to use. Don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions about this.
My doctor also prescribed an "IBS medicine" to ease discomfort which I chose not to fill. My goal is to find the root cause, not mask the symptoms and that can't be done properly if I'm on meds // who wants to be on medication if they don't want to? Not this lady!
On my to-do list next? Go pick up the collection items for my stool samples, get some blood panels, get the allergy test done, and hopefully find a great Functional Medicine Doctor I feel comfortable with to meet with and work with. It's a tricky world of balance.
Remember, we all must eat, therefore we all must go. I hope that talking about it helps. I've learned to not be embarrassed about these issues because your health truly starts at your gut. It is not something to hide or take lightly.
Be well and remember to move that bod! If it's one thing I've learned no matter how much discomfort I'm in going for a walk or hike, doing yoga, or jogging if I'm feeling up to it always helps. It clears the brain and half the battle is mental.