Step 1: Kicked some SIBO ass. Step 2: Kicked some Pylori ass. Step 3??? Just keep kicking ass. Kick all of the asses.

July 10, 2015

Well. Hmph. It’s been over a month since my last blog post. Most of you probably don’t really care, but those of you that follow me might have decided that I was either miraculously healed and had no need to bitch and complain write anymore, or that I had finally fallen deep into the depression rabbit hole, sitting amongst empty pizza boxes and candy bar wrappers, weeping into my cat’s fur about what a life I used to have. Well, I’ll tell ya…it’s been somewhere in the middle of cat-weeping and miraculous healing.


I told ya I was a witch…

So, if you haven’t visited this page before, welcome! My name is Katie and I am a loud-mouthed SIBO hater living in Hawai’i. If you’re looking for sunshine and rainbows, this might not be the place for you. If you like sarcasm and ridiculous pictures and incessant witchiness, pull up a virtual chair, ’cause we’re gonna be buddies. For a history of my SIBO-laden past, click here (you’ll have to scroll all of the way down or follow the links to get to the very first entry). If you need some SCD/FODMAP FTD/AIP friendly recipes, click here, and if you are a newbie to the wretched SIBO diagnosis: firstly I am sorry to welcome you to this bloated club, and secondly, here is a list of things that have really helped me along the way and assisted me in putting SIBO into remission.

Last I wrote, I had stared SIBO down and kicked its bacteria-ridden ass, Inigo Montoya-style. I was so proud of myself, I was so happy!!!! It took 5 months of hard work that included crazy diet diligence, hours of research and time spent at the doctor, numerous tests, a slew of herbals and supplements, twice weekly acupuncture, a 23 day commitment to the elemental diet (an all-liquid diet) and finding the Fast Tract Digestion Diet to finally put SIBO into remission. My numbers were always hydrogen-dominant (I topped out at 133, which is severe SIBO) and when I retested, my methane levels were 0 and my hydrogen levels topped out at a 7. I about kissed my n.d. right on the mouth when she told me. When we got the results, we were both really chirpy and excited, but after the initial elation calmed down, I had to wonder…”why don’t I FEEL better then?” Don’t get me wrong, I had seen improvements…I no longer had to chill with my toilet more than I chilled with my husband, but I was still having decent-sized bloating issues and low energy. I had 2 glorious weeks of feeling more like a normal human girl after ending the elemental diet, then the karma gods decided to descend upon me with an evil slew of bacterial vengeance. I simply woke up one day, ate breakfast, and then proceeded to feel like I was D-Y-I-N-G. I was gripped with horrific stomach pain…a twisting, gnawing pain that felt like a little monster was slowly eating away my insides, combined with crazy heart burn that felt like the monster decided to eat his intestinal meal by self-made firelight. Never in my life have I had heartburn, so it took me several days to figure out what the burning sensation was. The stomach pain was awful and debilitating. Seriously, I felt like I was having a damn baby every time I ate.

pyloriblog14The pain would come on about 3-4 hours after eating and last for 5-6 hours. It would send me to bed with castor oil and a heating pad, stretched out in misery waiting for it to pass. I had no CLUE what was happening. My n.d. ordered a stool test and it came back with an overgrowth of Klebsiella Pnemonaie, which is a bacteria that can cause some problems (and some really serious lung problems if not treated) in one’s digestional tract. She told me severe stomach pain was a strange symptom to have with Klebsiella, but that it was possible. She loaded me up with herbal teas, Sacro B, homeopathic pellets, and the natural version of TUMS. Nothing even TOUCHED the pain. After 3 days in a row of not sleeping all night because the pain was so unbearable, I called her and told her I had to get some tests. She immediately referred me to a Gastroenterologist, and I was able to make an appointment a few days later.

I went to the doctor exhausted, frustrated, and worn down. I had been eating only one meal a day to keep the pain down and had lost even more weight. Thankfully, my little sis was there to cheer me up with the fun waiting room literature…which all-too-depressingly hits a little TOO close to home. pyloriblog4The Gastro was a wildly frustrating experience, especially after being so spoiled by my amazing n.d. He flew in, asked me a few questions and then proceeded to interrupt me every time I tried to answer him, then scheduled me for a endoscopy a few days later. He said that they could sedate me, or completely put me under.  I was like, “Doc…this gal wants to be knocked OUT. You’d best be giving me the good stuff if you’re gonna shove a tube down my throat.” Whatever, at least I was getting a test.


pyloriblogA few days later, my little sis drove me for the procedure. It was my first time having an endoscopy and I’ll admit that I was a wee bit nervous. Hell people, I’ve never even had a stitch. Up until this year, I had lived a very blessed, healthy life. But the endoscopy was absolutely nothing. The nurses kept warning me about the solution I would have to drink prior to being put under, because it was supposedly foul tasting. I just laughed…little did they know that I had been drinking fart shakes (the elemental Vivonex T.e.n. shakes) like a champ for weeks! I downed that solution like a frat boy would down Jager and they wheeled me on in. They put me into a happy place and I passed out while they explored my innards.

When I came to, the doc was there to inform me that there was no cancer (Um, YAY!) and no visible ulcers (I had totally convinced myself due to the pain I was experiencing, that my stomach must be ravaged with bleeding ulcers).  He said I had severe gastritis but didn’t know why. He had taken several biopsies and I would hear back in about a week. I went home and ate my one meal for the day, and the pain came on like asshole-ish clockwork. I was truly hating life.

One miserable week later, I was back in the Gastro’s office waiting for results. He whipped in again, ready to give me 3 whole minutes of his day (do I sound bitter?) but this time I was better prepared and wasn’t going to let him get away with being so dismissive. He told me that I had come back positive for Helicobacter Pylori (commonly known as H. Pylori). HP can cause gastritis, acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and ulcers (among other things). Sounds fun, right? Ironically, this is what my n.d. had initially suspected, but since two stool tests and a blood test had come back negative for the bacteria, we had both given up on that diagnosis.

'Doctor Bohan will see you now, Mrs. Stradley, but he really doesn't want to.'

‘Doctor Bohan will see you now, Mrs. Stradley, but he really doesn’t want to.’

The doc kept saying, “H. Pylori can definitely cause some heartburn and a little discomfort…”to which I narrowed my eyes and angrily growled, “Doc…I am NOT a wuss. I am a 4-time marathoner. This is NOT a little discomfort. This is put-me-in-the-bed, fetal-position, cannot-sleep-or-function pain.” He raised his eyebrows at me like I was a nut job. I glowered like the nut job he thought I was and held his gaze until he looked away (I won! He couldn’t match my steely patient-crazed stare). He apologized and told me that he wanted to start me on triple therapy (triple antibiotics), which is common protocol for H. Pylori patients. It includes Clarithromycin, Amoxicillan, and Omeprazole. He told me it should kick in quickly and that the pain should be gone in a few days. I was really worried about taking a P.P.I (Proton Pump Inhibitor) like Omeprazole (otherwise known as Prilosec) because I’d read so many terrible things about them, and they are supposed to very negatively impact those with SIBO.  Since I’d worked so hard to rid myself of SIBO, I really didn’t want to take anything to bring it back. But, the pain was unbearable and I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I finally decided that I would gladly take SIBO back over the pain. I quickly sought the guidance of my n.d., because as you know, I trust her very much and wanted her opinion. She too agreed with the triple therapy approach, most especially since all of the herbals typically used for getting rid of H. Pylori had already been part of my regimen for weeks. Her rationale was that if the herbals were working, I wouldn’t be in so much pain.

pyloriblog6In addition to the H. Pylori, the Gastro told me that he also found that I have a hiatal hernia. Fantastic. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach moves up into your esophagus. This is common with extreme bloating (um yeah…check) or pregnancy.  There really isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do for it, but my n.d. does this technique where she pushes it (the stomach) back down out of the esophagus. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It’s a very strange thing…she has me breathe deeply and she stands above me and pushes intensely on my stomach in a very sharp motion with all of her might. It’s weird because you can actually FEEL something move. Creepy? Creepy. It seems to help but it’s quite short-lived. As soon as I eat, it’s back. Again, fantastic.

So, I began triple therapy. I took the damn PPI. I did everything else I could think ofpyloriblog10 or find. I stayed on herbals (Neem, Berberine, ADP, and NAC), and drank fresh cabbage juice daily, as apparently Pylori hates the stuff. You know who else hates the stuff? Any human with taste buds. SERIOUSLY ya’ll…have you ever had straight cabbage juice? It is horrifyingly disgusting. And this is coming from the girl that would chug Vivonex like it was an ice cold beer, so that’s saying something. I hate that shit. It smells like death and tastes like it, too. Anyway…I digress. I was advised by my n.d. to get a thorough teeth cleaning, as pylori is known to hide out in the plaque of the teeth. Mmmm how appetizing is THAT? I also had to change my toothbrush in the middle of treatment and again at the end of treatment.  My n.d. started me on daily probiotic enemas (yeah…life sure was swell) and lastly, I took a breather from a lot of the other supplements I had been taking to treat SIBO (detailed on my SIBO GUIDE page). The plethora of pills was getting to be burdensome and since I was eating less, it was causing a lot of nausea.  

Two days went by, then three, then four…I was diligently taking everything and still only eating one meal a day. And still every single day (or worse…at night) the pain would come on and land me in bed. Sometimes it would last 7-8 hours and keep me up all night. Those were DARK nights, lemme tell ya. I think that is the lowest I’ve felt in a long, long while. Nothing lessened the pain. The only thing that helped was to drink huge amounts of baking soda in water. But I had to take so much of it to make the pain a little less intense that it ended up giving me diarrhea (baking soda will do that…and sorry for the gory details, but if I have to deal with it, you have to read about it.  :P). So I was either up all night hanging out with my porcelain buddy, or up all night in pain. Good times.

After one particularly terrible night, I could NOT take it anymore. I was sleep-deprived, angry, and LOSING. MY. DAMN. MIND. There is only so much Netflix a person can watch. My husband woke up and found me still awake at 4am, clutching my heating pad. I told him through clenched teeth, “THAT. IS. IT. I am going back on the elemental tomorrow. I cannot take this anymore.” He just blinked at me like he does when he’s afraid of me.



DEPRESSED about mah damn shake


Super stoked to run and feel normal! (even if that meant not eating)

The next day I got up, made

a shake and waited, frightened. It was pretty dern depressing to make that first shake again, I gotta tell you. I thought I was done with those. I thought I had moved on. But I waited and waited and nothing happened. I was ELATED to not be in pain. I went for my first run in weeks, I cleaned my house, I played guitar, I felt NORMAL! Except, ya know, that whole not eating thing. Later that day, I actually tried some saltines. I know, it’s a weird thing to try, but I had found in the previous days that it was the only food that didn’t cause that strange pain (maybe because there is a lot of baking soda already in them? I don’t know…) and that worked too. So, for the next 5 days, I lived on shakes and crackers and felt great. I didn’t even care this time to be on the elemental.  I was so happy to be away from the god-awful gnawing/burning/twisting/cramping that it felt glorious.

It wasn’t until I stepped on a scale and saw that my weight had plummeted to 103 lbs. that I realized I couldn’t sustain this. After 5 days I tried to eat again – just my chicken meat broth and shredded chicken. No go…the pain came on a few hours later and I was miserably distraught. It made me feel like the mother-fracking, stupid, annoying, gut-destroying triple therapy wasn’t working at all. This went on for a few days until I spoke to my uncle. Both my sister and he had H. Pylori in the past (it tends to run in families, btw) and they both told me that the ONLY thing that helped their pain was, of all things, Pepto Bismal. I inquired about this on the forums and was told that yes, Pylori actually hates Bismuth and that it’s used in the quadruple therapy (the second most common therapy prescribed for Pylori). I thought, “What the hell, I’ve tried everything else.” And much like with SIBO, I would drink the semen of a hippo if I felt like it would help. Yup. You read that right. I went to the store, bought apylori13 bottle and chugged it. I ate dinner that night and continued to take small sips of it throughout the night. Amazingly, it worked. I cautiously and fearfully went to bed at 11pm, praying the pain would stay away and drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep. When I woke up I couldn’t believe it!  I continued to drink enough daily to kill a small horse to be able to eat, but it was worth it! Fooooooooooood! (I don’t know why but that picture above makes me laugh).

Over the next few days, I tried to slowly taper down the amount of Pepto I used. Over the course of a week, I was able to take only a small sip before I ate without trouble. ‘Twas glorious!  I don’t know if the Pepto actually helped me to get rid of Pylori (I haven’t yet retested) or if it just enabled me to finally eat, but I have never been more grateful for an over-the-counter medication before. It was like a damn Pylori elixir. SO HEAR THIS! If you have H. Pylori, invest in some Pepto. Just trust me. Pepto, I dig ya. Lets run away together. I’ll have your pepto babies.  

So, that’s what I’ve been dealing with. I finally managed to kick SIBO, only to discover that I still have many other things to overcome. It’s possible the Pylori isn’t gone.  It’s possible the Pylori was causing my SIBO the whole time. It’s possible I’ll NEVER stop bloating likeamyp this or be normal again. Never did I think that at 35, my healthy body (or so I thought) would be diagnosed with SIBO, H. Pylori, Hashimoto’s, PCOS, a hiatal hernia and leaky gut. It’s crazy that someone so invested in healthy eating and running could be so ill. But, that’s the hand I’ve been dealt and in many ways, I think it’s a good thing that this happened to ME, and not to someone else that couldn’t do everything they can to get rid of it. Meaning, I will not stop until I’m better. I am nothing if not tenacious. I am a bull and this is my china shop. I will always be working to feel better and stronger and healthier. Someone else may not have the stamina to do that. So in that way, I suppose I’m lucky to have all of that endurance training and health research to help me find my way. Otherwise, I would be lost.

Next steps include a colonoscopy and follow up endoscopy this coming Monday (7-13-15) because I am still having massive bloating issues (even upon waking up). I am also having another SIBO breath test that following Friday. I want to make sure the SIBO is still actually gone. Because my bloating is mostly in the lower belly, my n.d. thinks it might be a good idea to get a colonoscopy to rule out anything that might be affecting my large intestine. As much as I want to figure this all out, I don’t think I can bear another diagnosis of some weird illness I’ve never heard of in the large intestine. Just gimme an intestinal transplant, already! Isn’t there some pig intestine or cow intestine they can throw my way? I will gladly take it.  

So. That’s what I’ve been up to! I honestly did not handle it all very well, I’m sad to report. God help me if I ever get cancer or something truly debilitating long term. One weekend in particular while I had gone back on the elemental shakes again, Joe and I had been invited to several social events that I felt I couldn’t say no to. One was a birthday in a nice restaurant. It was beyond hard to show up with my disgusting shake while everyone boozedpyloriblog16 it up right nice, while also watching beautiful, good-smellin’ food pass under my nose. We had two more events like this in that same weekend and by Sunday I was a grouchy, growly troll of a Katie. Really, even though the food part is hard, the questions are harder. I have still not learned to neatly tell my story in an anecdotal blurb yet. I usually say something along the lines of, “Oh, I have really intense food allergies so I cannot eat that.” But then people naturally feel sorry for you and keep trying, “Oh!  I have fruit! Want a banana? Do you just want a rice cake?” Let me rephrase. “I am currently eating all of my food through a straw.”  

After the pain of the H. Pylori finally went away, I, ahem…sorta…fell off the food wagon.Well, more like I did a flying swan dive off of the wagon. I FINALLY could eat without feeling like a monster was eating my insides and I went a lil’ cray. My n.d. said to me, “I know you’re excited to be eating again, but I want to warn you to go very slowly and to take it easy. We don’t want to undo all of your hard work.” I nodded solemnly in agreement. “Yes,” I said, “You can count on me.”

I went home and ordered a pizza.

The next day I ordered another one. Then I had Indian food. Then, and this is the MOSTpyloriblog17 embarrassing…I bought a box of Oreos. I don’t think I’ve had Oreos in over 5 years. After that I managed to regain control and when I saw my doc again I told her, “I might have slipped a bit in the food department.” “OH?” she inquired with her perfectly arched eyebrows. I looked down at the floor like one of those Sarah MacLachlan dogs. “But only for a few meals!” I persisted. Then I blurted out, “I’m totally lying. I don’t know why I’m lying to you, but it was for 4 whole days. I ate terribly and I’m sorry.” She was very kind to me about it (what choice does she have when you look like a Sarah Mac dog, anyway?). To be fair, it was my first major fail in 7 months, but I did (and still do) feel guilty about it.

However, that fateful weekend made me decide something…I’m going to relax a bit.  t’s been 7 months of pure diligence. I’ve not missed so much as a single pill or acupuncture appointment. I’ve missed numerous parties and celebrations with my sister, my friends, and my husband. I’ve avoided alcohol and been on a liquid diet twice. I’ve spent countless hours researching my illnesses and countless hours hurting. I am going to continue to be diligent about 90% of the time, but I am going to allow myself to live a little. I am going to allow myself a cheat meal every now and then. I need to be able to have a cocktail with my friends. I need to be able to go on a date with my husband. I think the stress of stressing about all of this so intensely is only making me worse. I need to reclaim my life. Errrr, at least 10% of the time.  😛 So, that is my new executive decision. We’ll see how it goes.

On that note, I wanted to share something fun that I’ve been doing for myself. Now, I’m a bit of an enigma because I am a staunch feminist, and definitely not what you would call a “girly-girl.” I don’t use a single hair product (except, ya know…shampoo/conditioner). I don’t wear much makeup. I like to get sweaty and dirty and I grew up fishing and camping. However, I love clothes. I love fashion and love to shop. I blame my Mother, she could shop for daysssss. And I totally just discovered Stitchfix. Have you pyloriblog18guys heard of this? It’s basically a personal shopping company. You sign up, fill out a long questionnaire detailing your size, style/cut/color/pattern preferences, and then every month they send you a box of 5 items selected for you. You try them on, keep what you like (and pay for them online) and send back what you don’t like for free in a pre-marked envelope. It’s crazy easy and it’s only $20 a month (AND that $20 goes toward your purchase if you choose to make one!). I’ve only gotten 3 boxes so far, but it is so much fun! It comes wrapped all pretty and they give you styling cards and for some reason it just makes me feel special and decadent. I know, it’s totally vapid and self-serving and probably silly as f*ck…but when you’ve been house-bound or bed-bound for a long time, it’s nice to have something fun and feminine to look forward to. Or it has been for me. If you’re interested, please use this link to check it out. AND if you sign up, please include my name because I get $20 toward my next purchase if you do! If you sign up, be sure to share it on social media so you can get discounts if people sign up, too. I got the above yellow dress for $4 because two people had signed up through my link. Score!

Sorry, I just had to share that with you. I know a LOT of women read my blog and might find it fun, too. This is sort of how I “reward” myself for hanging in there and being diligent. I hope you have a reward system for yourself, too. Maybe it’s a manicure/pedicure or massage. Maybe it’s a weekend away with your significant other without the kids. Maybe it’s getting a new yoga mat or doing something you’ve always wanted to try, like taking piano lessons…the point is, DO IT.  Try to find rewards that have nothing to do with food. My rewards used to all revolve around food. Brunch with my girlfriends, a fancy meal with the hubs, or a pig-out night with my little sister. If we want to stay on track that 90% of the time, it’s important we learn to find little things that bring us joy that aren’t food-related. For a total food addict like myself, I think this is key. If clothing isn’t your thing…find what is.  🙂

Ok, I’m done rambling. Thanks for the amazing continued support. I’m working all of the time on my new recipe page, so updates (6 more dishes!) will be coming soon! Happy aloha Friday everyone!

17 Responses to “Step 1: Kicked some SIBO ass. Step 2: Kicked some Pylori ass. Step 3??? Just keep kicking ass. Kick all of the asses.”

  1. Kristin said

    Keep up the hard work lady!!!


  2. Shelley said

    Yay! You’re back! Wow, you’ve been through the wringer! Your attitude and persistence – amazing! I needed this today! Hope your life gets a lot more boring in the GI department real soon!


  3. Dot SLady said

    I wish you lived next door Katie; you’re such a hoot! Love you/love your blog. Unfortunately, we’re living in parallel universes. Sorry for your pain (I had no pain with my HP)!!! 😦 Glad you’re on the mend and kicking ass like a champ. If people only knew (personally speaking, I think cancer is right up there with what we’re dealing with, too).


  4. Tamara said

    You have a great outlook. It’s great to see. Are you still on the Fast Tract diet and seeing success. How is your bloating? I’m thinking about starting this diet as low fodmap does not work for me anymore.


    • Thanks, Tamara! I am back on the fast Tract diet, yes. I remain bloated. I have literally stayed bloated for 7 months…despite diet diligence, the elemental diet, and clearing SIBO and (I think) h. pylori. It’s crazy. I’m hoping it will eventually subside after months of being on the FTD, as others agave told me that’s what happened with them. But I had my colonoscopy today and they found a few polyps that could have been contributing. They are getting biopsied, so we’ll see.


  5. Carina said

    Hi! My friend Sonja recommended me to your blog after I’ve complained enough about my stomach troubles. I’ve been in and out of doctors and on and off diets for years to try to deal with it. I’m at my breaking point and so frustrated and financially depleted. I will use your blog to help with the diet portion but please give me your recommendations for doctors to see. I wish an Nd was affordable! How do you do it? Please help!


  6. Katie,
    I love StitchFix too. And I also feel like it’s a little silly how much I lovelovelove StitchFix…but also: NOT A FOOD REWARD and you know what? We deserve to have things we like and just because we can’t eat a cupcake as a reward (a much cheaper reward, I must say…grrrr) doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things.

    Short story of me: lifetime of pain, 5 years of gluten-free without pain, sudden return of pain, 3 years of “try this!”…currently still not sure WTF is going on but I’m pretty sure it has to do with being 44 years old in grad school/dealing with 24 yr olds that think their life is going to go EXACTLY AS THEY PLANNED because the world owes it to them(HA!)/being broke as f*ck due to aforementioned school…umm, I have a little stress is what I’m saying.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.


    I’m off to see my ND. Hydrotherapy, here I come! (benefit of being at DC/ND school: one gets to see an ND for FREE!!)


    • Hahaha well your message was hilarious. I think I like you and I don’t even know you, too. 🙂 I can’t imagine dealing with this in grad school…grad school took up mah whole LIFE! So I imagine you are stressed. However, if you can see an nd for free…damn. That’s amazing. It’s almost worth it for me to go get my phd considering how much money I’ve shelled out! :p Good luck to you…I really hope you get some answers ans start feeling better soon. :).


  7. […] above for the history of my digestive and thyrodial (yes, I sometimes make up words) woes. OR click here for the previous entry, or here if you’ve stopped by to learn about my experience with the […]


  8. […] check out my SIBO Guide page for some guidance on good resources.  If you have questions about H. Pylori, the Elemental (there are actually 4 entries on this!), or how I came to decide on the Fast Tract […]


  9. Anna said

    Hi, I’ve been reading some of your posts (I came across your blog as I was browsing the Internet to find some advices about my SIBO and H pylori) and the only thing I can write about it is that you are so great!!! Your posts show me that If we fight for better life it is essential to keep your head up and never giving up!! You seem to be a very strong person!


    • Awww what a sweet message! I don’t know how strong I am, but I’m glad I’m fooling people! Haha! There is so little information online about SIBO that is personal. So much of it is scientific and dry and hard to read, so I just wanted to make something light and funny but still truthful. Thanks for reading! 🙂


  10. Chloe Brooks said

    I have only just found this but i thank you for sharing your story. I think you are so strong to get through all you have suffered with. I am currently trying to rid of dreaded SIBO and praying I don’t have anything else to contend with. I am waiting on results of my retest after 4 months on herbals, but the way i have been feeling recently i am not too confident😕
    I identify with so many of your thoughts and find it reassuring that I sm not the only one feeling this way. Thanks again snd i hope all is going well now for you.


    • Aw, what a super sweet comment! Thanks, Chloe. I’m still a work in progress but I’m chugging along! I am happy to report that the sibo part of the equation seems under control. 🙂 Here’s to you getting good test results! 🙂


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