Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Update: Gut Infections and Resistant Bugs

Aka not as easy as I thought! 

Well, the last several weeks have been fun (she says with excessive sarcasm). The old saying "from bad to worse" applies after a few more weeks on the couch due to daily fatigue, foggy head and nausea. My stomach has been misbehaving no matter how well I treat it as my system slowly but surely begins to react to pretty much anything that touches my mouth. I'll admit though, due to frustration and finances, I haven't been as attentive to taking probiotics and enzymes that I know help... But sometimes it's nice to take a break to get a realistic picture of the true state of your health. I've been popping pills, taking supplements and doing alternative therapies for 14 years now - when all that stopped working I was forced to get to the root cause. It's been a shit fight (excuse the term) but it had to happen eventually, and 12 months on, it certainly doesn't happen overnight!

During a very teary session with the GP last week, I found out that not only did the aggressive antibiotic treatment I put myself (and my boyfriend) through not kill the tummy bugs, it turns out the chronic infections and stress have given me a case of adrenal fatigue (low DHEA levels and low hormones in blood tests). This would explain why my gut is still a minefield and why my energy went from average/managing, to low/non existent almost overnight. I tried the super low carb thing to starve the bugs in hopes to relieve symptoms and I didn't react well. I'd still wake up feeling like there was a basketball in my stomach and after every meal it still felt like someone was slowly blowing up a ballon inside of me - not to mention the increasing deep, daily fatigue that I couldn't shake. When I asked for antibiotics for SIBO that came up positive in breath tests he brushed me off and said it wasn't important. Didn't even look at the test results I'd placed on his desk. I was so upset as I know that SIBO is, and has been, a massive cause of many of my symptoms. 

So I scuffled away with more tests to do, people to call and people to see. I was greatful to get a referral for a colonoscopy and endoscopy through the private system (public was going to take me 3 more months to see anyone). But the whole appointment was extremely deflating. I called the GI office Monday morning after my appointment through tears, and the lady said she could get me in on Wednesday and I had to start prepping now. I hung up slightly bewildered but thankful that answers were closer. 

Fast forward through 2 days of not eating, drinking picoprep and staying very close to the toilet... The wait at the clinic was painful to say the least but after 7 hours I was out and awake and had a piece of paper in my hand clearing me of any major inflammatory bowel diseases like crohns or colitis, no major structural damage like diverticulousis and a very healthy looking intestinal tract (is it too gross to post a picture!?) Biopsies were taken for H Pylori, Celiac, Bacterial Infection and for some weird bump in my esophagus to make sure it was benign (it was). I was a bit spaced out for the next few days but I'd overheard in the waiting area that the anaesthesiologist, "likes to make sure they're out deep enough because you never know how long the procedure will take and you don't want them waking up or remembering anything". This provided me with a weird mix of terror and relief - waking up during a medical procedure is my worst nightmare! But would explain why it took me a good few days to recover.

I woke up late yesterday to a missed call and a voicemail from the Gastroenterologist, mumbling something about its strange and staphylococcus aureus and duodenum and antibiotics. I consulted Dr Google as my Gastro was not reachable - freaked out a bit at first (as you do), Golden Staph!? In my intestine!? WTF? But then stumbled across this article (which is one of the best in terms of what it is and how to treat it) which informed me that staphylococcus aureus is present in 13% of SIBO cases: (you'll have to copy paste this link).

So pretty much the antibiotics the GP didn't want to discuss, or the condition I told him I had (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), is exactly what needs to be treated. I know one person can't know it all, but it made me so upset because for the last several years so many doctors and naturopaths have made me doubt myself with comments like: it's just depression, IBS, sleep more, eat more fibre, do you drink enough water? And: when you stop working nightshift everything will change, it's just stress, do laxatives work? And on and on... I'd almost started to believe it was in my head, maybe I was just depressed and I'd feel this heavy fog and no energy forever (if that was the case I sadly didn't want to stick around to find out what that life looked like!)

Moral of the story is, if you're unwell, trust it. One medical practitioner will not have all the answers and these life sentences we're handed out in the form of pills and short term symptom relievers aren't the answer. It'll take a lot of research and probably some cash, but don't stop till you get to the bottom of it. Don't trust what you're told and never, ever let anyone with a degree or letters after their name make you feel bad about yourself or like its 'all in you our head' or that there are no other options. Trust yourself - you know best xx


  1. I've just read all your blog posts. Thanks for sharing! I was a vegetarian for over 20 years, and while I'd still like to go back to it someday, I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to.

    Your last paragraph here is along the lines of what I've been thinking for several months: western medicine is very good at extreme trauma, and after that it sort of sucks. I no longer have much faith that any medical practitioner will have any idea what's wrong with me if I don't already have a good idea.

    I know you've mentioned the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and based on all of your posts put together I'd highly recommend it. You're already most of the way there!


    1. And thank you for sharing Rich :-) Always nice to hear from someone who can relate and is also having some success outside of the medical system. I'm certainly heading towards SCD but just making the adjustments you've mentioned - adding in foods I know I can tolerate and avoiding fruits, fodmaps vege and yogurt until my gut is better... It's nice to know that it is fully customisable. Doing lots more research and writing up my elimination diet and reintroduction plan for over Xmas and the New Year... Hardest part will be giving up my daily coffee! But I know, for the meantime, it needs to be done. Thank for stopping by and taking the time to comment :-) xx