My Journey to Gut (and spiritual) Health

Everyone is on a health journey. No one’s health is perfect, no ones health habits are perfect, and sometimes life throws a curve ball and sends you into a health battle regardless of how “healthy” you are. Yes…that was a lot of typed “health”! I decided this year, I will be blogging through my own health journey. MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: this IS NOT to treat or diagnose you…everyones body is different and everyones health situations are unique. Find a healthcare provider who listens to you and make sure you are your own healthcare advocate! I wanted to blog about my journey because maybe it is helpful to know that dietitians and medical practitioners also have health issues…and dietitians also have nutritional issues to deal with…because we are humans too!

Since I can remember, I have struggled with GI (gastrointestinal) health issues from colic as a baby to IBS like symptoms in my teens and then a diagnosis of GERD and gastroparesis in my 20’s. This past year things took another turn about 7 months ago in which my GI symptoms started to affect my quality of life. After trying to fix myself for about 6 months (I know, I know too long, I get it), I finally went to get help from a gastroenterologist in November. Sometimes you hear horror stories of doctors (because people will dwell on the negative rather than the positive) BUT I have been nothing short of impressed and grateful for the Gastroenterologist I have been blessed to have been scheduled with. He’s been fantastic! A good listener, smart, up-to-date on recent research, and didn’t waste any time scheduling tests for just about everything.

Listen, I learned a lot in the 6-months that I tried to “cure” myself:

  • Even as a dietitian, I could not fix my gut issues by myself and I had to seek out a doctors help. I had to lay aside my pride as the “expert in nutrition” and say “you know what? I don’t know how to fix myself nutritionally because everything I’m doing is either making it worse or definitely not helping”.
  • Sometimes, no matter how many essential oils you use or how many supplements you take or how many probiotics you pop or pressure points you hit…you just need modern medicine! I’m a semi-“crunchie” person. I love alternative medicine but I believe that there is a huge place in life for traditional medicine. Medical Doctors aren’t the enemy but I also think you can do a lot of things without prescription medicine. Well, I learned that sometimes (pride) you need an M.D. or a D.O. to get you help! And sometimes you need prescribed medication because your body will benefit more with it than without it.
  • I did not pray for myself to be healed…because I thought I could “do it myself”. As a Christian woman, that stinks for my walk with Jesus. I also didn’t ask anyone to pray for me. I’m a fairly private person unless you outright ask me so if it didn’t come up, I didn’t talk about it nor did I ask my Christian friends/family to pray for me and I had to come before God about that. There was/is a pride problem and I’m working on that.

So far the conclusions have been that I have Barrett’s Esophagus (a typically middle-aged-man disease) and something wrong with the lower part too. The Barrett’s isn’t surprising although I wasn’t expecting it. I have had GERD for most of my adult life but during the past year it has gotten much worse. Barrett‘s is where the lining of your esophagus starts changing to protect itself but those changes can lead to more serious issues. With the lower GI symptoms, some deductions were made and we’ve also agreed that my symptoms are mimicking SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth). Basically bacteria shouldn’t be in your small intestine but in your colon. SIBO can be “good bacteria” or “bad bacteria” it really makes no difference since the bacteria shouldn’t be there regardless. *side note, if this is not SIBO there are other diagnosis he is going to check on…he’s not leaving me hanging*

So I took a 2 week course of an SIBO specific antibiotic. Along with trusting your health care providers, you have to be an advocate of yourself too! I’ve been doing my research, asking fellow dietitians who are experts in this arena, and figuring out what will work in my life. I completed the antibiotics earlier this week and now I am taking various supplements (I do not recommend supplements to you, please talk to your healthcare provider/dietitian about what supplements may work for you!) and placed myself on a therapeutic diet (again, not an advocate of diets unless I know your medical history) to control SIBO to try and heal my gut.

REMINDER: when I tout “diets don’t work” I’m not talking about disease specific diets…I’m talking about weight loss diets. I talk to a lot of people about disease specific diets for things like diabetes, heart disease, IBS, cancer, etc. Soooooo I’m putting myself on a disease specific diet for SIBO. The diet, along with the supplements SHOULD (in my calculations) fix the rest of the problem HOWEVER nutrition isn’t magic. I know that I may not have SIBO and it could be another possible diagnosis BUT I’m going to try my hardest to do my part in fixing the body God has given me.

Along with trying my hardest, I’ve also asked a few prayer warrior friends to pray for me and I’ve begun to pray for myself. I find that to be the hardest part! I can pray for others but when it comes to myself I just don’t know what to pray sometimes. Perhaps it’s because I feel that God can answer prayers for others but maybe not me? Perhaps it’s because I feel that I’m praying wrong for myself? Maybe it’s because I feel like I don’t deserve it? Only God knows my heart and my thoughts but I’m also praying that He fixes my mindset about praying for myself. I just listened to a podcast from Beth Moore about praying. Boy did I need that! I learned so much about it and those fears that I mentioned about (the perhapses and maybes) is more about faith than it is about prayer. So not only am I working on my gut health but I’m also working on my faith health because of this.

Here’s the scripture that I’m focusing on during this journey. It’s not so much about healing but it’s more about what I can learn through this. What I can learn about coming before God because of my pridefulness. What I can learn about coming before God with my lack of faith:

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”
– Hebrews 12:7-13

I’m not sure what you are going to take away from this blog post. I haven’t blogged in MANY months, partly do to this issue I’ve been having and partly because of life. BUT hope you are blessed through this post. Honestly, I pray it empowers you to be your own healthcare advocate, find a healthcare provider that listens and is thorough, and rely on God to get you through the days that are mucky, frustrating, and not-so-perfect because that can be a testimony in and of itself! I’ll continue to post more about what I learn through this process both from the physical/medical and spiritual so stay tuned…

…to be continued…