SIBO: A Year with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – Part 1

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In the beginning of my autoimmune life I always pictured the journey like rock climbing. Before you begin you stand at the base taking in the magnitude of the rock face, finding strength in the promise of the summit – that when you reach the top all the pain and effort will be worth it.

Experience has given me a new vision of autoimmunity. I picture this life more like a back packing trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. Moments along rocky terrain, fighting hunger and aches stretch you beyond what you believe you can bare. In the next moments the trees open up into a valley where cool waters offer not only beauty but relief for your aches and pains. And so you embrace the rest period, hoping it will last, restoring you body, mind and soul. In truth, another challenge is probably coming soon.

SIBO threw me off my axis bringing me humbly to my knees. I’d spent a long season in the healing waters of the valley, telling myself that I had earned the right to stay there. Leaky Gut was healing nicely. My bloating, diarrhea and constipation had settled. Even more, I was living pain free, my rashes were gone, I had eradicated parasites and detoxed heavy metals. My life was renewed and filled with energy. In my celebration of renewed health I had forgotten to watch for the mountain lion hiding in the shadows of the forest. While my circumstances were better, I still needed to pay attention to smaller symptoms that would later blow up in a big way.

After enjoying a few years of relief, my belly began to bloat again. I started to gain weight steadily going from a size 4 to a size 10 without any major diet or life changes. I was still eating an organic dairy, soy, and grain free diet which had brought so much relief before, but was now falling short. While I never thought I was constipated, my digestive tract never fully emptied. I was hungry all the time, especially desperate for heavier foods to fill my stomach like beans, potatoes, and legumes. While I rarely consumed sugar, I seemed to be desperate for my unrefined substitutes like maple syrup and honey. To add to all of this, I was dealing with an amount of stress that could break the strongest of people. Rest period was over. My body wasn’t well. I knew I needed to start fighting for my healing again, but I felt stuck and didn’t know where to begin.

One of the trickiest issues I was facing was the question of leaving my current doctor. He had diligently helped me get rid of parasites, detox heavy metals and supported my gut health in the past. However, the supplements he was using as part of my healing protocol included ingredients like rice flour and lactose. These were foods that cause me serious digestive distress. Could they be causing me issue with food as well?

Jonathan and I sold our house and were in the process of moving. While I was usually diligent about taking my supplements, this week of moving had be hustling. I went four straight days without them and was eating less than normal. Shocked, I realized my bloating had reduced without my supplements. This was the final push I needed to make a change. I came to realize my current doctor had done a lot to help me. He was there when I had moved away from Columbus and had nowhere to turn. Now that I was back in Columbus, I needed to find someone who could take me further with my healing.

Dr. Jennifer Irvine had cared for my family for many years. We had a lifetime of Dr. Jen healing problems when other doctors fell short. I went to see her after a ten year hiatus. As always she listened intently with a caring heart. I could see the wheels turning in her brain. Knowing my past health history, and hearing my current symptoms she turned to me and said, “I would like to do a test for SIBO.”

So there I was, gearing up for another hike through the mountain pass. Pushing away discouraging thoughts, I took comfort in that fact that I was more experienced, I had help to guide me, and my recent rest had given me faith that healing would come again. And so began my SIBO healing journey.

Part 2 coming soon

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