A trip down my own symptom riddled memory lane

The following are excerpts from blogs I wrote during my healing journey in chronological order. It’s not pretty, though I’ve tried to trim some of the coo-coo out of it. These snips will give you insight into how I was feeling and what I was experiencing during this time. Here goes…

Rewind to April 2016 - 9 months from my first symptoms starting.

“…I’m thinking I'm coming off a little unbalanced here. Is my crazy showing? Good.

But there is a reason of course. There are many in fact, the leading reason right now being my health. And I'm not talking about my current cold. I'm hesitant to list every symptom and health problem I'm dealing with so I’ll go broad and to the issue that is challenging me in ways I'm really struggling to cope with.

Following a visit in late February to an integrative practice and some testing I was advised that I apparently am hosting in my stomach something called Helicobacter Pylori , and I have something called, informally, leaky gut.

So now I'm on a treatment plan to heal my holy/leaky/permeable gut. Whatever you call it - its broken. 

I've already been on my treatment plan for two months but I'm sure I can stretch my memory a bit to remember how I felt before. Kidding! As if I can forget. I'm still feeling pretty much the same anyway. Two months of rigorous treatment and little to no improvement! If only I understood what each sensation in my body was telling me. If only I had some frame of reference. I have no idea how long it is meant to take to a.) get rid of the nasty little bug”…I’d like to interject here to state that I’ve since come to the conclusion that getting rid of it is not necessarily the right focus…”and b.) feel better. All I can think is that my immune system and digestive system has taken such a knock for apparently a lot longer than I realized that it is just taking a lot more and a lot longer to see any improvement....

I'm not going to sugar coat it. I've felt absolutely disgusting and depressed and it is just not quite possible to explain the physical and psychological toll the effects of these health problems have and are taking. It is a dark time with intermittent rays of light but so far improvements are short lived. I had about 6 days of feeling great and almost believed that it was all over and then GOTCHA!”

July 2016

…”I'm finally starting to feel like maaaaaaybe I will get back to normal again. Today was a very good day. I had absolutely no symptoms; I felt great. Which is really just what most people would class as 'normal'. But for me right now normal is AMAZING. And that is in spite of being really tired, a little spacey and having a very sore shoulder! On my off days I still think: 'I'm never going to get better' and on my good days I'm so happy and think: 'I'm healed!'. It's funny how my brain works. My counselor says I need to separate feelings from physical sensation so that my mood isn’t so tied up in my physical symptoms but honestly, I feel that is near impossible. She says I should just describe the physical symptom, for example, "My stomach is queasy", so that I don't confuse feeling sick with feeling unhappy. She also keeps congratulating me every 5 minutes for achieving mundane tasks like being able to find her office - the only one - at the end of the corridor. I feel that she is treating me like an idiot. Anyway. To me that sounds like craziness and I realize words have power but really! And also - be happy when you FEEL like you want to throw up constantly, can't swallow properly, are hungry but feel completely stuffed even though you haven't eaten in hours and can barely stomach just plain water?

I've just had my month five appointment and will be doing another Indican urine test. I've decided to leave the H Pylori test even though I'm actually really curious to know. But does it matter seeing as I'm clearly starting to get better? Although I'm starting to wonder if H Pylori is really the problem here or if it was actually a problem with the lining in my stomach which needs repair. I mean if most people have it, and only some have symptoms, and the bacteria surely has some function? It doesn't compute. I don't know…Even the literature out there is quite divided.”

October 2016

…”I really never considered that once I actually earned my own money that so much of it would go towards doctor and physiotherapy bills, supplements, and health foods. Is there a lesson in this? Surely. This has come to mind because as I'm paying for a chiropractor, a range of supplements, and adaptogenic, immuno-modulating, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-thisthatandtheother, I'm experiencing that whenever I think I'm going to have some money left over for hedonistic luxuries, my mind goes 'Ah! Now I can buy those fancy probiotics...' And there goes the the rest of my money. Ugh. It makes me sick! (figure of speech - obviously it's purpose is to make me well or course!).”

November 2016

…“A quick update I think is in order and it is good news indeed. I did buy those fancy probiotics, and whether it is coincidence who knows, but after a couple of weeks of taking them I have experienced a dramatic improvement in function and symptoms of my stomach. I'm so confident in the promise of how much better I have been feeling (and consistently so) that I am going on record to say that everything is going to be fine. For the first time I truly feel like I am getting my future back. The last year has just blindsided me to a point where I'd stopped thinking about my future apart from wondering how I was going to survive for another 50 years, nevermind build a house, be a wife and mum and so forth. I've invested sickening amounts of my very precious savings on giving my body the best shot to heal and it was such a slow journey which made the commitment to go to all those chiropractic visits and doctor visits so much harder. And at the end of the day  maybe a probiotic I found myself may have really made the biggest difference or maybe the foundation was laid by all the groundwork I've done over the past year and this was the final support to give my gut that boost! I don't know. And that is another thing - after seeing the chiropractor for 12 weeks twice weekly at $50 a 15 minute session, I am finally noticing a distinct break in my pattern of shoulder, neck and back pain. It just blows my mind how a change can happen so suddenly. I've learned such deep lessons, however unplanned this journey has been, that I simply know that I have formed some life long paradigm shifts and habits that will benefit me and my family, and maybe even my friends, a long way down the track.”

April 2017

…”I can honestly say that I have more than fledgling hope that, with dedication to healing and eating more intentionally, I will be just fine. 

My previous entry ended on a very positive note following the introduction of a new brand of probiotics. But alas, after two wonderful weeks of being symptom free, my symptoms did return and my progress continued in the same ebb-and-flow like manner that it had taken since I started my 'treatment' in February 2016. I do believe that the probiotics were beneficial, but to say it solved my problems would be untrue in my case. So they were not the miracle cure I'd hoped they would be, however, I can say that about three weeks after starting these new probiotics I experienced the first true break in my symptoms. Although I 'relapsed', it was certainly a turning point for me in that I started to experience longer periods of relief and the return of symptoms continued to become less intense and more short-lived.

Now, I don’t want to brag about my island holiday, but I want to share an interesting fact about my time away. For the entire 10 days that I spent on this island I experienced not a single digestive symptom. Not a burp, no queasiness in my tummy, sore throat or nausea. I was expecting the usual suspects to make an appearance but they never did. What makes it doubly confusing is that during this time I ate and drank everything I wanted to! Which is quite different from how I now live at home.  The very morning after my return my symptoms came back! Yes, I am driving myself up the wall of course trying to crack this code. Is it stress? Is it the water? Is it the mold in my bedroom? Is it because I'm not eating papaya every morning? Is it because I'm back at work? Am I missing my family?  Is it all of the above, none of the above, or a particular combination of some of the above? 

In summary, things are steadily improving. I still have relatively mild symptoms most days, with the odd break lasting usually 2-4 days, but nothing compared to what it used to be like. I have to reset my commitment daily to eating clean and whole foods and this is not an easy thing. It is very easy to stick some cheese on a plate, melt it in the microwave, and stuff my face with it. It is very hard to use my willpower not to do this, but it is important to stay on track so I try to not lose sight of how far I've come. You would think that after what I have been through it would be easy to eat well but that is not true! It takes dedication and intentional effort, especially at times where I am symptom free and I actually forget, yes, I forget what I have endured and how sick I've been. So there you have it.”

So there you have it, as April 2017 Ance wrote. What a tough thing for someone to go through! It was so isolating because it’s just not that outwardly visible to others. I have such compassion for that woman who endured this journey, mostly alone, but I have admiration because she persevered and turned it into something meaningful and I wish I could go back in time to give her some comfort and encouragement that she will be okay. Obviously I can’t do that for me, but I can for others.

I’d also like to say - please don’t be alarmed by my level of knowledge represented in the above posts! During this time I was travelling up a steep learning curve and some of the things I wrote truly make me cringe but I left them in there because they reflect the truth, and possibly what you may be experiencing. I don’t want to pretend that I didn’t have the same human experiences as anyone else in my shoes would have, or that I instinctively knew all the right answers and did all the right things. I’ve come a long way since then, however, and have intensively educated myself over the last 3 years to be able to understand health in a holistic manner to be able to support those going through a similar journey.

To hope and possibility,

Ance