I quit! I was hoping to make it until next Monday when I see my naturopath, but this morning after I had my 26th shake in a row I felt like complete crap. Foggy head, massive anxiety, upset stomach, and just gross gross gross.
Is it more die off? Is it a reaction to one of the ingredients? I don’t know. All I did know was that I wasn’t making it for lunch. I went back to my hamburger soup. I was a little worried because it’s been so long since I have had to digest anything I wasn’t sure how it would go.
So far it’s meh. I didn’t get sick from the soup but I wouldn’t say I feel better. I figure if I need to I can do partial elemental diet but at this point I have a fairly strong aversion to the shakes.
What is weird to me is that there’s nothing in the shakes that should be aggravating the sibo. But my aches in my neck, throat, shoulders, other joints, and the general anxiety for no reason tell me something is up. Hopefully I get answers by Monday!
It’s been a week since I’ve had food I could chew. Or felt full. And I’m very whiny about that.
One thing I’ve realized throughout this process is that I’ve never been really, truly hungry for a prolonged period of time – and that is a privilege that I have totally taken for granted. Even now when I constantly feel so hungry, I’m not really – my nutritional requirements are being met.
Back in the days when I was teaching there were 2 schools I worked at that provided meals for the students and often those meals were the only times those kids ate. Which of course means that holidays and weekends were extra rough on these young souls. I always felt for them, and was so grateful that they were at schools where they were being fed, but I don’t think I really understood how awful it must have been for them having nothing to eat. And honestly, I am aware that even now I don’t have a real understanding of what it must be like for one of these kids because like I said although I’m hungry my nutritional needs are being met. And also I’m fortunate enough that I am getting professional help to deal with this – how many people are living a life where they can barely function because helping with these kinds of illnesses isn’t covered through regular medical care? I’m ashamed to admit I had very little understanding of things I would have lumped into the larger term of IBS. This isn’t just an upset stomach or feeling kind of crappy. It affects my mental health, my ability to digest food, my joints and general pains in the body, brain fog, and so much more. Quite literally it stops me from being able to do the things I want to do, things I need to do. It feels like I’m debilitated by the equivalent of a paper cut – but it’s so much more than that.
I’m still having my existential crisis. Although it now comes with a side order of grief, which makes sense since I’ve stuffed down so much of my grief to “deal with it later” – which I suppose is now. I have stayed committed to staying off social media while I go through this aside from posting on my blog. But yesterday when I opened my ipad I saw a notification from this dog I follow on Facebook. Poor Bradley Bear (BB) is a Pyrenees/beagle cross and is just the cutest little guy. On Friday his 18 year old cat sibling crossed the rainbow bridge and poor BB had been quite distraught. So when I saw the notification I figured I’d just go on fb to see how poor BB was doing. Not well it seems. He had a rough couple of days and on Monday they took him to the vet to find out that his kidneys were in total failure and they made the decision to put him to sleep yesterday.
I spent the whole day crying for this dog. Which kind of shows you where I am at emotionally. So this morning I once again cheated and looked on FB to see how the poor owners were doing. What I discovered was that when they went to go to the vet for his rainbow bridge appointment he was doing so much better – so he’s home on hospice care and being loved for a few more days. You just never know what is around the corner.
I don’t know why I’m sharing BB’s story but it really affected me – and made me realize how much of my own grief I’m holding in and probably need to deal with.
Well, I’m still doing it. Still feeling like crap, but still doing it. I keep thinking “this is the die-off phase and it won’t last long”, but it is still going on. Today has more sibo-like feelings in that I’m quite achy and joints are a bit sore. But I know there’s no way I’m eating anything that is activating sibo so it must be die off.
Although I feel like I’m starving to death I’ve actually gained 3 pounds. Because.. of course I would. So that’s great. I’ve lost about 30 lbs though since I’ve been working at this so I suppose in the bigger picture it’s not the end of the world. It seems as though sibo either causes massive weight loss or weight gain – and my body has always responded like a 17th century peasant heading into a famine: “Oh I must preserve every ounce of fat I have to survive what is coming ahead”.
I have also entered into some kind of existential crisis. Who am I? how do I fit into the world? What is the meaning of life? Who is God? What is the Universe? A lot of these are questions I often ask, but they feel different right now and the answers I’m coming up with are significantly different. A Course In Miracles talks a lot about the willingness to see things differently, and the further I go on this journey the more I understand that phrase. Just when I think I kind of understand things, something inside shifts and once again I see things differently.
My current existential crisis is asking for quiet to absorb and sort things out, so I’ve stepped away from social media (I’ll post this but I’m choosing not to look at or scroll through my social media) so that I can have some quiet time for my brain. I have to say, it’s nice having my phone off and not getting constant notifications about every little thing. Of course that needs to be balanced with some social interaction because we need each other. I keep thinking of Thoreau and his quiet time at Walden Pond – not totally isolated, but living in seclusion – and also his famous quote about leading lives of quiet desperation.
I think about this quote a lot. And I think it is as true now as it was in the 1840s – at least for me. Maybe even it’s this quiet desperation that led me to be sick. For sure it was the anxiety and trauma that surrounded it. Or maybe I’m just hungry.
I had no idea it was possible to be so damn hungry and so repulsed/scared of food at the same time.
After I drink my lunch today I will have completed 3 full days of the ElementALL diet and have 10 more to go. I have to say at this point that the 10 days is stretching out in front of me like eternity.
The bad: I am soooo hungry. I’m getting enough calories, and I’m getting proper nutrition, but I’m so so so hungry. The shakes still taste like unsalted horse sweat after said horse went swimming in a stagnant swamp. I’m also hungry. I am in a committed relationship with the bathroom at this point. I get quite hungry. Still quite bloated. And finally, the hunger.
The good: this is the third night I’ve slept straight through. I’ve struggled so much with my sleep over the years and being able to close my eyes and not open them until it’s time to get up is something I had kind of accepted wasn’t in the cards for me. A lot of my sibo symptoms have lessened. I have a bit more anxiety today, but in general my anxiety is so much less than it was a few days ago when I was in active flare up. Same is true for depression and intrusive thoughts. My joints barely ache anymore. My headache is almost gone.
No matter how bad I feel right now or how I’m complaining, it’s nowhere near as bad as I felt a week ago. And a week ago I didn’t feel nearly as crappy as I did earlier this year before I started working with my naturopath.
I have the best naturopath. I had an appointment on Wednesday to go in and discuss the sibo flare up that I have been struggling with. It had been a good 10 days of pretty intense pain and feeling generally unwell, and while I had been able to go through the notes of past sessions and find a few herbs to help relieve symptoms somewhat I was still in dire need of help.
So when I got the call that my naturopath was sick and couldn’t see me that day I almost cried. I actually did start crying when they said the next available appointment was in 2 weeks. But instead of shutting down, which was my normal behaviour in the past, I told the receptionist exactly what was going on and asked if there was any way she could ask my Dr if he had any advice.
After the call I had a little pity party. Actually, it was like I split into two people – PityPartyMelissa and NewAndImprovedMelissa. PPM was all “see, this is why we never count on anyone for anything, everyone ends up abandoning us, you can never depend on anyone ever”. And NAIM was like “dude! The man is sick. You haven’t been abandoned, you know he will help you out. Something will come through and you will get direction about how to help make things better. Seriously, breathe and chill a bit”.
After about a half hour the phone rang and it was my naturopath, sick as heck, but who gave me thirty minutes of his time to listen and give me some advice about how to feel better. I am so grateful for the amazing people I have in my life who are helping me heal.
We decided that on top of the herbs I was taking he was going to put me back on the tincture of death, ADP (because it works better than the regular oregano oil pills I was taking), and….. start me on the ElementALL Biological Diet by Bioclinic. The idea with the elemental diet is that it’s pre-digested food and gives the digestive system a break as well as not containing anything that would feed the sibo bacteria.
It’s probably a good thing I was feeling so crappy because let me tell you, these shakes are not for the faint of heart. I got the chocolate flavour (and I use the term chocolate – and flavour – loosely) because my Dr said that the other flavour had a strong after taste of vomit. Yum. The smell of the shake just about dropped me to the ground. I have discovered it tastes much better if you can manage not to breathe while drinking. To me the after taste is kind of what horse sweat smells like but like if a horse had been swimming in a stagnant swamp before sweating. So it’s delicious!!
I am now a day and a half – or 5 meals – into my shakes. I cry a little every time it’s “meal” time, but I’ve been sticking to it and not having anything else. It’s easier because literally everything I was eating was making me so sick. Here’s what I’ve found: my headache is almost completely gone, my joint aches have significantly decreased, my stomach is still pretty angry but it has settled down a lot – and I’m apparently in die off mode now which means I’m staying close to the bathroom. But I’m feeling so much better. And best of all – after spending days and weeks not sleeping and feeling so anxious because of being tired and feeling unwell – for the last two nights since starting the shakes I have slept right through the night (which never happens) and my anxiety has dropped from a 7 to a 3. Which makes the fact that I am almost constantly fantasizing about eating piles of mashed potatoes easier to handle. I am feeling more connected to myself again, present in my body, and I am grateful for the fact that I have the resources available to me to be able to seek the help that I need.
Things are not going well in SIBO land for me right now. It’s been at least a couple of weeks of pretty extreme discomfort (achy joints, headache, brain fog, anxiety, not sleeping etc) and I’ve finally decided that perhaps we never got rid of the sibo and with me introducing new foods it’s flared up again.
Now, by new foods I don’t mean things like chocolate cake (sob), or even things like potatoes or grains. It was things like Swiss chard, eggplant, asparagus, and olive oil – all things cleared with or suggested by my naturopath. I kind of blame the olive oil even though it’s supposed to be good for sibo but at this point I have nothing besides a hunch. I was doing well when I was using avocado oil, but when I ran out a month ago I switched to olive oil and it’s been a steady decline since. But there could be other reasons.
Of course it’s not just a weekend but a long weekend so I have to wait for my appointment with my naturopath until Wednesday. But yesterday I kind of snapped and decided to help myself because the pressure building inside me was becoming too much to take. By pressure I mean that it feels like I’m being wired with very uncomfortable electricity that just vibrates through my body giving me a headache and feeling of pressure that makes me feel like I’ll explode. And I’m sharing this in case there are other people out there suffering who have no idea what is going on or feel like they’re alone. Although I would never wish this on anyone, so I kind of hope I’m all alone with it.
I went to our local drug store – Two Pharmacy in Cochrane- and picked up some liver support, berberine, and oil of oregano, all of which I had been on before during the kill off phase. I bought a different oregano oil though and I think I’ll wait on that until I see my dr. So far there’s a lot less pressure but I still feel like crap. I’ve cut out everything besides hamburger meat, because I know meat doesn’t feed the sibo. And while i’m grateful for the cows that are healing me, damn I miss vegetables. But I have a lot of gratitude for those cows, they are healing my insides not to mention that my house and my life here was literally built because of cows, and I am eternally thankful for what they are doing for me. The fact that their lives were given to improve my health is not forgotten and I am constantly in a state of gratitude for that.
So I go Wednesday and find out whether or not becoming my own doctor over the weekend was a good idea. I don’t know what else to do- it’s not like you can go into urgent care and say that you feel like you’re dying because of sibo because it doesn’t show up on regular tests. But damn, it does kind of feel like you’re dying. And that’s not me being dramatic, it’s bloody awful. I can’t believe I ever used to just cram food in my mouth and not worry that it was going to debilitate me.
But this will eventually be resolved and I’ll feel like I’m back on track with my healing journey. Actually even though I feel like crap I still know I’m on my healing journey. I’ve come so far, and so much of this is just using intuition and stepping back and allowing God to be present (that and a lot of crying and trying to bargain with God for my health – but those aren’t probably as helpful as the first two).