Friday, January 10, 2014

The Next Journey

This blog started five years ago with a long (three month) work trip to Central America.

Most recently, it documented every thought (that I wrote down) while on a short (three week) volunteer trip and spiritual journey to Africa.

And now, dear reader (I think there are about three of you left)… you may want to go on your merry way. For this blog is about to turn inside. Way inside. Like inside my digestive tract. Inside the very walls of my small intestine.

This fall, my health insurance began accepting Naturopathic Doctors as Primary Care Physicians. And my sneaking interest in alternative care then combined with the fact that I have not had a regular doctor since I had a pediatrician, and the end of the equation was = I have a new ND! (There was a false start here worth noting; the first ND I met with made me feel unhealthy and skeptical and mean. The second one was - and is - amazing.)

So as me and my ND made our way through everything about my health, everything I'm concerned about or interested by, everything I've been through and want to achieve, we kept coming back to my digestive health. Which is … not great.

Don't say I didn't warn you; this is the journey, like it or not. Feel free to look away.

And my digestion (which, yeah, ok, is a nice word for bowel movements) has been worse and worse over the last 18 months or so, and been pretty atrocious in the last six. Just never regular. Just never satisfying. Just daily meh. So I took this totally crazy breath test (that turns out not to be crazy at all), and have the classic result of SIBO: small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

At first, I thought SIBO was crazy. I thought it was in the league of non-medically-accepted diagnoses, like adrenal fatigue or vertebral subluxation. This could not be a thing. Could it? Well, it is.

I went to a shiny, high end, solidly Western medicine, practically concierge-care type gastroenterologist - and he not only assured me the test for SIBO is very real, but that my results were indeed classic SIBO. His treatment plan, as a second opinion, was extraordinarily similar to my ND's plan.

And that plan starts tomorrow.

It is no easy plan. It is 10 days of very intense antibiotics, while starting a diet that should last from 3 to 12 (or more) MONTHS.

If you know the GAPS Diet - that's what it is. If you don't know it, all you need to know is what I won't be having, for 3 to 12 (or more) months:

  • Flour, wheat, barley, rice, corn, oats, cous cous, quinoa, rye, parsnips, white, red and sweet potatoes and everything made of them: tortillas, pasta, bread, cake, cookies, chips, crackers, chips, risotto, pizza.
  • Garbanzo beans, kidney beans, fava beans, black eyed peas, butter beans, cannellini beans. 
  • Ham, hot dogs, smoked or preserved or processed meat.
  • Ketchup! Chocolate! Cocoa! 
  • Maple syrup, molasses, sugar.
  • Chèvre, gruyere, feta, cottage cheese, mozzarella. 
  • Beer (but I don't care about that).
So when I come to your house, or we go out, what can I eat?
  • Beef. Lamb. Chicken. Wild Game.
  • Eggs.
  • Nuts (raw only).
  • Ghee, butter, olive oil, avocados, coconut oil.
  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, fermented sour cream and yogurt.
And ok, to be fair, I will be able to eat lots of vegetables and some fruits, too, eventually - and hard cheeses. Eggplant, squashes, onions, garlic, lettuces, carrots, cauliflower, capers, beets, asparagus, pineapple, pears, cherries, and more. But when you look at a list of things you can eat, and things you can't eat - it's hard to stop your imagination. 

So filled with anxiety, and total dread, I've been eating like a madwoman for the last month, since the diagnosis. I've put on another ten pounds. I've been thinking, if I just eat everything I want NOW, I'll be OK on this restrictive diet - which starts out literally with fat, meat and eggs for days before letting other things trickle in (first avocados, then nut butters, then soft lettuces, cucumber, etc, over the weeks that follow).

But I know that's not true. And so tomorrow it all starts. And I ate five pieces of sourdough toast for dinner, and then made a cherry-chocolate cake at 9 PM and ate three big squares. I'm gonna give that bacteria a big ol' feeding frenzy before I boot them out.

No comments:

Post a Comment