This is how I feel right now. This is how I've felt for a few days. But before jumping into the feelings, because that's what we're all about here, let me first apologize for the very long, and overdue post. Although, an advice column once told me never to apologize for overdue correspondence. It's been chaotic over the last few months; working 1 1/2 jobs, and generally saying Yes too often. I have so much to talk about and tell you, but in an attempt not to hurl word vomit in your direction, I'm going to attempt to keep things (somewhat) organized.
Where should I start? I think I've done a decent job documenting my ups and downs with my tummy troubles; the chronic heartburn, gas, bloating, and general feeling of yuck. Sometimes I feel great, but then out of nowhere a deluge of symptoms flood my insides. Well this happened a few months ago, and I tried every trick in my toolbox without positive progress. So I turned to some professionals for help. I had tremendous success with this functional medicine specialist nine years ago. She was the person who originally uncovered my thyroid issues, and helped me turn things around without large amounts of medication. Paying out of pocket for medical care when I have good insurance coverage is not my first choice, but I've struggled to find good care in the past, so I scheduled an appointment this past March.
After my initial consult, I was instructed to complete an allergy blood panel, a breath test to look for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and supply a stool sample (I could write an entire post on poop, and one day I probably will). Each one of these tests required its own strict preparation, so it took six weeks to complete the tests and get the results. The SIBO test came back positive, and the allergy panel showed that while I do not have any true food allergies, there are about 15 foods that I may want to limit or avoid. Chief amount them...almonds! Let's just take a moment to let that sink in. No almond butter, no almond flour, and no almond milk. Noooooo!
This was all information overload, but I felt some relief knowing I wasn't crazy, and my symptoms weren't just in my head. To start solving my problems, I was put on a strict low FODMAP diet, and four nutritional supplements to be taken twice daily. FODMAPs deserve their own post, so instead, let me point you in the direction of Monash University, who has been doing extensive research on the topic, and their app has been a lifesaver over the last month. I would also recommend checking out In My Bowl, and A Little Bit Tummy.
If you take a moment to read any of these sites you will instantly realize there are lots of rules, and lots of things I'm currently not eating. I'm about six weeks into this process, and to say I'm getting a little frustrated is an understatement. In the grand scheme of things, these are all small potatoes, and very much problems of privilege, but man is my brain tired of thinking so much about food all of the time. Plus, all I want is ice cream.
Every day is a new learning curve. Like realizing that eating an orange is fine, but drinking orange juice isn't (after drinking the orange juice). Or that garlic and onion are literally the cornerstone of all restaurant cooking, so eating out is impossible. Although living in such a wonderful city means I have found a number of restaurants willing to accommodate all my ridiculousness as long as I call ahead. I've also spent about half of my mornings nauseous because one of the nutritional supplements makes me want to puke.
That was a lot, thanks for sticking with me. Trying to follow such a restrictive diet for this long is tough, especially since I've worked hard at moving away from hyper-focusing on food choices, but this is not ultimately where my feelings are coming from today. I'm angry and frustrated because I seem to have swapped one digestive problem for another. My heartburn, and daily gas has significantly improved, but now I walk around with a brick in my abdomen all day long. Yes, I'm talking about pooping problems again (sorry). It seems that a combination of less fiber in my diet from following a low FODMAP diet, and the addition of supplements has created another monster of bloating and constipation. And I just don't know what to do.
I've been to acupuncture a few times, which provides short-term relief, but a few days later I'm back to discomfort. I want to see this process all the way through, but I just keep thinking, what't the point? If I'm going to have problems either way, why put my brain through so much hard work? Especially since I have not even reached the FODMAP reintroduction phase yet, which drags this process out for another 6-10 weeks. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to stick to, which means a few bites of "non-compliant" foods make it past my lips, making me feel like a FODMAP failure. Food and failure should never appear in the same conversation.
I'm feeling sorry for myself because my summer is going to be spent thinking too much about food, and having to avoid ice cream, the most wonderful gift to humans. I'm angry because I go to bed each night trying to stay positive that maybe in the morning I'll finally feel better, but that hope doesn't materialize. My anxiety is creeping up as I think about how much more is left to do. I'm mentally exhausted. I want to hire a personal chef.
I don't want to paint a picture of pure darkness. There have been bright moments, thanks in large part to some amazing people, places, and companies that have made this a little easier.
Walking enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, sports lover (watching, not playing), and future world traveler.
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