Some of my friends and family know my health journey but for those who don’t I thought I’d write up a summary of what I’ve been through. My hope is to help someone else who may be having the same issues I’ve gone through. I have no medical training, so by no means am I giving professional medical advice. I’m just sharing some life experiences.
My health journey started in November of 2011 when I started losing weight. I was pretty excited because after the birth of my fourth child I was having a hard time losing the pregnancy weight. It was taking a toll on my self esteem. Finally my pants were fitting better. I was so happy, but the weight just kept coming off. Not in huge amounts. Only about two pounds per month but after a year of this my mom and some women from church were concerned. At first I just blew them off and thought, “Who doesn’t want to be losing weight.” I didn’t know weight loss could be a sign of a medical problem.
I had only lost 26lbs but I wasn’t very overweight to begin with. Just some left over pregnancy weight that by this time I had lost and was getting smaller then before I was pregnant. In the matter of just a few days I heard three people say I’ve lost a lot of weight with a concerned look on their face. Finally I got online and looked up weight loss. Then I realized this was probably more then just shedding baby weight. I had no health insurance but my husband and I agreed I needed to see a Dr.
Besides the weight loss I would get a horrible pain on my left side as well as other digestion issues (bloating, constipation, constant hurting intestines, tender tummy…etc.) that I have lived with for years. I started with my general Dr. He ran several tests that cleared me of anemia, thyroid problems, lung cancer, colon cancer, (cancer is in my family) crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and kidney problems. I also visited my OBGYN who said it wasn’t ovarian or uterine cancer. I was very happy to hear it wasn’t any of these terrible diseases.
At the same time I was getting very frustrated with not knowing. Several months had gone by and I still didn’t know what was going on. My clothes were starting to fall off and we had no money to buy more clothes. I was scared and wanted answers. I thought it would be easier then this. All of this brought me closer to the Lord. I didn’t know the answers but I knew He did. His Word gave me strength and I had many people praying for me. Still I would get scared. I would look in the mirror and wonder what was going on. The bones in face were becoming more visible…my cheekbones and temples. You could see every bump in my spine and feel the ribs in my back. I would cry and I felt so unattractive. My husband has been so awesome during all of this. He would encourage me to continue searching for an answer when I just wanted to give up. He talked to medical personnel when I got frustrated and talked to all the billing people for me. He never complained about the money, he just wanted to see me get better.
In January 2013 I had a colonoscopy that said everything looked good in my lower intestines. Within a few days after that I heard a couple people mention Celiac disease. I had never heard of it before. My mom was one of them and she told me about gluten and the gluten-free diet. I looked up gluten-free on the internet and decided to give it a try. It helped and I was amazed that I wasn’t hurting every moment. However, it didn’t take care of everything.
In March 2013 my Dr. referred me to a Gastroenterologist. They did an upper GI endoscopy on me and discovered my intestines were inflamed but didn’t know why. They took a biopsy to test for celiac disease but I didn’t realize going gluten-free first can mess up that test. So we still don’t know if I’m celiac or not. Then they did a breath test on me that showed I’m lactose intolerant and I had small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). That diagnosis made a huge difference.
SIBO is when you have to much bacteria growing in your small intestine. It feeds on carbohydrates. The bacteria takes food from you and produces more bacteria. I did some of my own research on SIBO. It is believed to be one of the main underlying causes for IBS. To get rid of it you can either take a specific antibiotic that’s pricy (between $1000-$2000) or you can starve the bacteria by not eating what it feeds on. It could take about 2yrs to starve it. Since I didn’t have money for the medicine I planned on trying to starve it. The doctors office put me on a list for free samples. I wasn’t expecting to get free samples but a couple weeks later the nurse called me and said they had samples for me. Praise God!!! I really felt like the Lord helped me out on this one. All along this path I have seen God’s hand move me in certain directions at just the right time. I would hear the right song at the right time to encourage me, hear information right when I needed it. God would send prayers, people and verses my way. I have felt Him near me through all of this. I’m skipping a lot of that info right now for time sake but hope to write more on it another time. So I took the antibiotics and it really helped. The gurgling and rumbles in my digestive track went away. So thankful to have that taken care of.
I was realizing what was going on with me is like a big puzzle that’s been building since I was a kid with tummy aches. I just had to find the pieces. I found most of them but still had a few more to find. It was around this time (summer 2013) that I stopped losing weight. I had lost 42lbs in about 18months but praise the Lord I finally stopped losing.
Just one more issue I still needed to put to rest. Occasionally I would get really weak and tired. It took so much energy for me to use my muscles. Just walking or talking took so much strength. It felt like there was something toxic going through my blood and I could tell you where on my body it was at the moment. I was nauseous and just felt icky all over. On those days I would put videos in for my kids and let the school aged kiddos play educational games on the computer. It didn’t happen a lot but when it did it knocked the soup out of me. Thankfully, the sick feeling only lasted 2 to 6 hours. It started happening more mid to late summer. I’d try to push through but often would end up crying because I was so tired of feeling sick and tired. I know God can heal me and believe He will. I just didn’t know why it hadn’t happened yet.
I paid attention to what I was eating and began to cross food off my list to eat. Finally I decided to just eat the basic foods God created for us in the first place. More vegetables and fruits and some meat too. I threw out high fructose and highly processed foods along with gluten and dairy (of course). I’ve been feeling so much better lately. I’m very strict with myself on what I eat. Anytime I think about wanting something I shouldn’t have I just remember how horrible it feels to be sick. Totally NOT worth being sick.
Also through this process I discovered three of my four children have problems with gluten as well. It’s been a learning curve for me but I’m enjoying the results of pain free tummies. I keep praying that the Lord will show me how to take care of my body and my family’s. He’s been so faithful to do just that. I hope you’ll enjoy learning along with me. Maybe we can learn a few tips from each other as we all go through our journeys.