As I sit in Whole Foods, people watching, sipping on my coconut milk latte, I wonder where to even begin. Do I start from the very very beginning? Do I start when my testing begin? There is just so much to be said it’s overwhelming.
**I do want to preface this by saying that I am NOT a medical professional but I am sharing MY personal journey and what is working for ME.
I think it makes the most sense to start around last summer when my symptoms really exacerbated. I’ve struggled with food sensitivities since high school, but throughout college, they just got worse. By the time around last summer, I was in constant pain and extremely uncomfortable from a bloated & distended gut after eating every meal. I would literally look like I was 6 months pregnant all the damn time. I particularly noticed that after eating gluten, my face would break out in a rash hours (even a day) after consuming, which could last anywhere from 3-5 days. I would think “well maybe this food triggered me, so I’ll avoid it…” I had completely cut out gluten, dairy, peanuts, shellfish, grains, but it was an endless chase–anything and everything seemed to mess me up.
When I got back from LA, the first medical professional I went to see was an allergist. I mean you gotta start somewhere! I remember writing this before my appointment: “really hoping to get some answers, but I have a feeling that this is just the beginning.” And boy was a right. He performed a skin test and blood reactivity test to find out what I was allergic to. Great! Finally some answers maybe?!
Well, my skin test showed that I am in fact allergic to CORN and HAZELNUTS. um what??? and my blood results came back normal…but I can tell you there was nothing normal going on in my body. My allergist was like “well this could mean that you have an intolerance or protein deficiency,” so he put me on an elimination diet, which meant cutting out dairy, gluten, egg, peanut, soy, corn & hazelnut for ____ and then slowly reintroduce those foods back, but it really did not help at all.
I was honestly miserable, bloated 24/7, going to the bathroom at least four or more times a day, extremely gassy, no energy whatsoever and my parents were getting even more worried, especially because we were leaving to go out of the country for 10 days and I needed some kind of help. So my mom took me to our general practitioner, who did a great job of listening to what was going on and then proceeded to give me four different medications to help with gut spasms, diarrhea, allergies, etc. These were Dicyclomine, Ranitidine, Rifaximin, and one other I can’t remember lol.
Once we got back from our trip, off to the gastroenterologist I went! At this point, I was convinced that I was celiac because I had a LOT of celiac symptoms/signs and autoimmune diseases run in my family. After telling him every detail, he wanted to perform an endoscopy, colonoscopy, more blood work, and a stool test. Yet, of course, everything came back “normal,” and he said I just have IBS. (All these tests took place over the course of a few months). I could go off on a giant tangent here, but basically, IBS is a HUGE umbrella term and so many people are misdiagnosed, as I was.
Okay, so how do we HEAL this…I didn’t just want another “spot” treatment because being on medication for the rest of my life is NOT going to heal me–it just offers temporary relief. But it was time for me to head back to school, so all of this kind of got put on pause. I kept taking my medication and continued to avoid gluten, dairy, corn, shellfish, hazelnuts, and peanuts while monitoring if any food triggered my symptoms. (foods like grains, oats, raw nuts, nut butters, raw veggies, peppers, apples, kombucha).
I started to notice that almonds were bothering me, so I cut back on my consumption. I vividly remember going to grab smoothie bowls with a friend and I caved, getting almond butter as a topping…little did I know this small decision would do THIS to my body:
I FREAKED and called my mom in full panic mode, who comforted me with her momma-wisdom and told me to take some Benedryl. I woke up the next morning in better shape, but it took several days for my face to finally clear up.
It is also SUPER important that I mention not only what was going on PHYSICALLY in my body, but MENTALLY. During this time my anxiety was at an all-time high and I began to get anxious even over the simple tasks of life. I was depressed because I lost direction in my life…I felt like I didn’t have purpose in life anymore, I wasn’t sure what my place in the health & wellness community was anymore. Basically, I had completely lost touch with myself. I also drank a lot to help me cope with this feeling of worthlessness when fermented drinks were the LAST thing my gut needed… There is a very intimate connection with the mind & gut...and I FULLY believe my anxiety & depression contributed majorly to my gut issues.
As my semester came to a close, I had never felt more confused or out of place. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life, the idea of medical school had lost its sparkle and I no longer felt led to pursue that path. My future plans had gone to shit. My body was so sick–I felt like she was rejecting me. I was a woman in need of deep healing.
When I went home for winter break, my parents and I talked about taking me to see a functional medicine doctor…in California. But before we made any appointments and booked flights, a family friend told us about a local naturopath. wait WHAT?! So, of course, we decided to try out this local doctor first and if he couldn’t help me, well then we would go to CA and get me the help I needed. We booked my consultation appointment at the beginning of January and needless to say, I never made it to Cali(:
**Next part to my story will be shared soon–this is just the beginning.