New Plan #435

Well after several hours at Google University, consultation with some wonderfully supportive people and crying a handful of times, I’ve decided how I’m going to handle The Beast.  Basically, I’m going to knock it down the same way I did in February and March – using the herbal supplements recommended by my coaches at Nourish Balance Thrive.  I know I felt great within a couple weeks of starting them, so they work.  I thought about going to my M.D. and begging for a prescription for antibiotics, to get this over with faster.  But here’s how I imagine that conversation going:

Me:  Good morning, Doc.  I wonder if you could help me with something.  I do my own testing because I really have very little faith in your ability to help me, and I did this stool test a few months ago.  You’ll see here on the stool test it says I have very little beneficial bacteria in my digestive tract, as well as one really annoying and overgrown gram negative bacteria.  Now, I know you don’t know much about this test, given that you’ve never ordered it for a patient, and I know you don’t probably don’t know much about the GI tract, given that you would just refer out when someone uses words like, “bloating,” and I know you probably don’t really buy into this whole notion of gut bacteria having any effect on our well-being, let alone that gut bugs could be responsible for many chronic and debilitating metabolic and psychiatric illnesses, but I’d like you to suspend judgment for a moment and partner with me as my healthcare practitioner, and trust that I’ve done a lot of research on this and that I know what’s best for my body right now.   After I got these test results in February I tool herbal antibiotics (also known in your profession as “woo”), and while they were effective, I wasn’t quick enough to repopulate my gut with friendly flora and the bad guys grew back. I’m now experiencing depression severe enough to threaten my relationships and ruin my quality of life.  Now, again, I know it’s a stretch for you to accept that depression could be caused by gut bacteria (or god forbid, a “leaky gut”)  but I wonder if you wouldn’t mind prescribing me an antibiotic so I could kill this monster. 

Doc: Depression?  Do you want an antidepressant?

Me:  No, an antibiotic.

Doc:  What?  No.

And at that point I’d have no choice but to fire my doc for being an idiot and then I’d have no one to prescribe my blood pressure medication.

So I decided against that potentially humiliating option and instead I’m trusting my friends at NBT who have been exceedingly patient, generous, and wise throughout all of this.

After the killing phase I’m going to bombard my gut with this probiotic.  I hope several trillion bugs is enough to fill in the empty void that will then be my large intestine.

Also starting Glutamine today for gut wall integrity, per Amelia’s recommendation.

Resuming Life

I took the SIBO breath test on Saturday, and initiated antimicrobials right away afterward.  By Tuesday my mood was 95% improved.  By Thursday I was down 2 pounds.  Diet hasn’t changed.  Fasting blood sugar is again in the low 100s (107 today)

I’ve now lost 20 pounds total.  I no longer feel like ending my marriage, driving far far away and starting a new life, or hiding in my office with the door closed.  Things are better again.

I’m currently using the following antimicrobials:

I’m pretty much just throwing the kitchen sink at this bitch.  These are things I had on hand. If the SIBO test indicates I do actually have SIBO, I might change things up depending on the hydrogen/methane composition of the test results.

On another topic, this is kind of cool…ubiome is doing research on the microbiome and is offering free or discounted testing kits if you participate.  Check it out here.

Cooling Off

Breath test is done and is waiting to be shipped off on Monday. The test itself went as expected – the lactulose solution caused bloating, diarrhea, headache and fatigue, but as planned I hit the activated charcoal and oil of oregano afterward to decrease the reaction. Those things helped. I didn’t get much sleep last night but that could be because of my kid, who’s sick.

I wanted to get a SIBO test done for several reasons – with the test I can find out if I actually have SIBO or if there’s some other problem causing all this distress. No more guessing. Secondly, I can find out which kind of bacteria it is (methane producing or hydrogen producing) that is the problem, and knowing that dictates treatment. My coaches from NBT are still involved and are helping me every step of the way. Objectively speaking, things are great. I’m learning and I have help from many directions.

I feel like I’m back to baseline today. Stable. Not getting divorced, not yelling at anybody. Also not swinging from the chandelier.

Blood sugar up to 136 this morning. Not stable.

My weight throughout this whole thing has been really interesting to me. Here’s a timeline I find interesting:

• 2/7/15 – Started following the supplement plan recommended by NBT
• 2/23/15 – Eliminated starches and sugars
• 3/2/15 – Quit dairy.
• 3/10/15 – Started losing weight.

I went on to lose 15 pounds over the next 6 weeks.

Then on 4/24/15 I wrote,

I’m eating meat, vegetables, eggs, and saturated fats (coconut oil and animal fat, and some ghee) and drinking water. That’s it.

It’s been 8 weeks since then and my diet has varied very little from that. I have continued to eat enough to not be hungry but never to feel full, and the type and quality of my food has stayed about the same. But since adding prebiotic fiber supplements about 8 weeks ago I’ve lost only 3 more pounds. I stopped the fiber supplements after only 5 days but the damage had already been done – the SIBO (I think) had returned.

But isn’t it interesting that my weight loss stopped when my basic diet didn’t change? It appears it’s not the lack of carbs, the lack of dairy, or the supplements I’ve continued to take that caused the weight loss in the first place, because I’m still doing all of those things and I’m not losing anymore.

Hm….Maybe it’s the supplements I’m no longer taking – the antimicrobials – that were causing the weight change.

I took antimicrobial herbs for the first 2 months, which is pretty standard for clearing up pathogenic bacteria. This is what was recommended for me by NBT, and what Allison Siebecker recommends for her SIBO patients who choose to use herbal antibiotics.

In my estimation at this point, it seems weight gain and/or the inability to lose weight is caused by inflammation. Inflammation can have multiple causes. For me, it seems to be gut dysbiosis. There is no one answer to the question of how to lose weight. The question needs to change – it should be “how can I get healthier?” I was probably getting healthier by killing off the pathogen(s) in my gut and my body responded by releasing excess body fat. When I added the fibers that stopped.

Take THAT all you calories in/calories out goofballs. And all you food-reward fat shamers too.  Stop pretending people are all the same and that one intervention – eating less – is the answer.  It’s not.

Out of Time

It hasn’t been two weeks since my last dose of antibiotic herbs, but I’m going to go ahead and take my SIBO breath test tomorrow anyway.  I can’t go another day without doing something to kill The Beast.  My depression, discontent, irritability, sadness has multiplied this week.  It’s my fault – I can no longer tolerating eating nothing but meat and I’ve let other things creep in.  Some sugar and chocolate, mostly.  A tortilla one day.  I figured I felt terrible either way, I might as well have something I like for lunch. Now I feel terrible and my blood sugar is up.  And everything makes me bloat – even meat.

Today my marriage almost ended.  We’re under stress for reasons unrelated to my gut, but my ability to cope is 100% related to my gut.  I have no ability to cope.  My brain feels poisoned.  It’s 72 degrees and sunny with kids playing and puppy dogs and rainbows everywhere, and I feel like my life is a waste.

My plan is to drink the lactulose solution, do the breath test, and then bomb whatever onslaught of pathogenic nastiness is created with antibiotic herbs and activated charcoal.  Hopefully by Monday I’ll be functional.

Reflections on Depression

Well I’ve got this SIBO test sitting on my desk, and I’m reading the instructions…they say that if you’re taking antifungals or antibiotics to wait 2 weeks before using the test.  Over the past 2 days I’ve taken oregano oil 3x a day.  Does that count?  Do I have to wait two weeks to move forward with this?  I guess I’ll stop taking oregano oil and wait 2 weeks.  Well, fuck. Prepare yourself for 2 more weeks of ranting, I guess.

Yesterday I felt angry almost all day.  No crying, just irritable.  I hate who I am when I don’t feel good.  If I hadn’t felt better pretty recently I would have absolutely no idea who I have the potential to be.  I’m just back to feeling not good again, and my personality appears to be entirely fluid and swayed easily by physiology.  I used to think the supplements I was taking were really powerful.  Now I’m not sure – I’m still taking them and I don’t feel good anymore.  I guess it was just the herbal antibiotics killing The Beast (TB) that made me feel good.  I’m overwhelmed with fatigue and anhedonia, now that TB has again taken over.  No energy for socializing, for compassionate and thoughtful interaction with others. I’m just a walking drain on society right now.

My NourishBalanceThrive coaches have been great, researching and talking to experts in the area of GI issues, encouraging me, and offering options.  I’m grateful.

I’ve been trying to remember when this all changed for me.  When did I start becoming depressed?  My earliest memories of depression were high school, but I was under a lot of social stress – teenage girls can be mean little brats.  In undergrad in the late 80s I lived in a dorm for 2 years – it wasn’t a fun time, but again I was under a lot of social stress.  My dorm mates were of a higher social class and I felt looked down upon and laughed at.  I don’t remember having stomach problems then.  The last year of undergrad I lived alone and that’s when depression really got a hold of me.  I remember my studio apartment being a mess and a cycle of binge-eating behavior mixed with frequent work outs at the gym across the street. Once I couldn’t find my keys in the mess that was my home and I just sat down in a pile of clothes and cried, completely defeated.  I had isolated myself from people.

I remember I was on antibiotics a couple times back then, for urinary tract infections.  I remember taking them for a little while and then quitting when the symptoms went away.  Did I create this by quitting antibiotics early?  Or did the antibiotics kill off my good gut bacteria?  Was it undiagnosed food intolerance that became more severe?  Was it all the drinking and illicit drug use in the 90s?

I started noticing stomach problems after I met my husband, so after 2005.  I remember being on vacation with him and questioning if I had celiac disease, because I had finally put together that I felt worse when I ate pasta and bread.

I guess I’ll never know for sure.  But here we are.

I know something now though that I didn’t know then.  In the absence of obvious environmental and social stressors, when things look dark now it means that something’s going wrong with my body.  Low grade depression looks like something outside of you is wrong.  But really when the world seems threatening, or no one understands, or your social needs aren’t being met, or you’re lonely…these are signs that the body is malfunctioning.  Because when your body has what it needs and doesn’t have poison acting on it, the glass is half full.  I try to remind myself of this as I’m crying and hating everyone.

It’s not them…it’s my stupid gut.  Maybe it was my stupid gut back in high school and college when I felt persecuted and singled out.  I’ll never know.

Oregano Love

I felt like crap for like 3 (or more?) days straight and then after writing my post yesterday I went and took an oregano oil capsule.  Within an hour I felt like myself again. Is it possible it works that fast?  I know the answer isn’t to keep bombing my gut with herbal antibiotics. I’m just trying to get through the day right now. If my test confirms SIBO I’ll be considering a consult with Allison Siebecker(Update: Just for kicks I checked to see how long the wait is to consult with Dr. Siebecker.  Turns out there are no appointments available *ever*.  Ever.  So maybe not an option.)

Money is tight but I’ve got to get myself to where I can function again.  I can’t continue to wander through my life crying all day and eating nothing but meat and eggs.  I never thought I’d say this but I’m getting sick of meat.