I have this weird thing about blogging: I only like to write when I feel moved to do so. For various reasons, I haven’t felt the need. I’ve been busy and blah blah blah…everyone is busy. Or everyone at least thinks they’re the busiest person in the world. Have you ever noticed that it’s become like a contest…who is the busiest bee in all of the hives? It’s strange the way that Americans wear busyness as a badge of honor. Anywho, I’ve had some more weird health stuff going on, and I told myself that I wouldn’t blog until I had some clear answers or some important things to share. Well, here it is, many moons later and I still have no clue what is going on with my massively stupid body and have nothing important to say. Lucky you. So today, I opened my computer and thought, “maybe I’ll write.” We’ll see if this actually makes it to “published” status.

If you haven’t been to The Ballad before, take a looksie around. I begin talking about beginning my battle with SIBO and other things here, you can check out some yummy recipes right hurrrr, why I chose the Fast Tract Diet here, my elemental diet days here, my issues with Ovarian cancer and SIBO and all things health right cheeeer, a SIBO guide section of stuff I found interesting and helpful here, and if you’re just here for the pretty pics and travel diaries, check out that stuff here.

What has been going on in the life of Katie, you ask? I just know you are waiting withblog1 breath that is bated, riiiiiight? I kinda can’t believe I haven’t written since like, winter. Of last year. What a terrible blogger! And here we are smack dab in the middle of fall. That blogging spirit really did not move me at all, apparently. I had just experienced gene testing the last time we spoke (yes yes, I spoke to you through the written word – das how I roll) and was super fascinated with its results. If you can afford to get this done and have it read by a professional, I highly recommend it. It was like a road map to why I’m such a friggin’ mess at such a young age. My genetic code pointed to everything from gut disorders (heh. ya think?) to a predisposition to Ovarian cancer to high anxiety and depression. My fabulous ND and I began treating my mutant-y mutations and I also got a highly informative amino acids tests (another I highly recommend), which helped me to comprehend what my genetic mutations are supposed to do, versus what they are actually doing.

I continued to do my usual thing…follow the Fast Tract Diet (which I HIGHLY recommend for SIBO and don’t know why doctors don’t know more about it), take herbal antibiotics every now and then, and do little mini elementals to help stave off a SIBO relapse. It all seemed to be working rather well. Then, while Joe was on a work trip to Guam and I was home alone, I was struck down by some kind of mutant death virus. A crazy high fever, headaches, body aches, and the worst – AND I DO MEAN THE WORRRRRRST- sore throat I have ever experienced in my life. Unfortunately, right before I got sick, I had decided to do a massive spring cleaning of our entire place. And I don’t clean like a normal person. I pull errrrrythang out tha drawers, cabinets, closets and set to work throwing things out, making piles of stuff to donate, and scrubbing any little anything in my path as I go along. So the house was torn to shreds and looked like an army of methed-out angry toddlers had stormed the place when I woke up sick as a damn dog. It was quite unsettling to have to stumble feverishly through my piles of crap on the way to the kitchen. The fevers lasted about 4 days and the sore throat lasted TEN DAYYYYYYS. Terrible. It felt like it was never going to end! I must confess to you now that I am the biggest baby about sore throats that you will ever meet in your life. I would rather slide down a banister of rusty nails naked and land in large puddle of rubbing alcohol than have a sore throat.

I might also be the tiniest bit dramatic. But I like for real hate sore throats.

I tried to clean here and there while sick, because I just couldn’t stand leaving the crazy mess. It stressed me out just knowing it was there, lurking. After about 8 days of dragon throat (I felt like I could breathe fire it was so raw and red and sad and terrible and pitiful…again, Idonotlikesorethroats!) I went to my ND and had her do a strep culture. She obliged and a few days later I found out I had a strain of Strep B. Fine then. She gave me antibiotics (Zpak) which I am loathe to take because of my messed-up tum tum, but I was desperate to feel better at that point. So I downed those bad boys and began to turn around.

blog2But wait!!! Ya know those infomercials that always have the “but wait!” at the end so they can lower the price or add on a weird extra prize that they act like is a mini ipad but in actuality it’s a plastic back scratcher? I often use the phrase in common conversations dramatically like that and no one ever gets it. It’s hard to be me sometimes. Even though I started feeling better, I never seemed to fully recover from that gnarly illness. I am in the habit of taking my temperature regularly because of my thyroid issues, and I noticed that every day, I had a low-grade fever. It was small and nearly imperceptible, but it was always there. It ranged from about 99.5-100.5. Because of said thyroid issues, I am usually around 97.0-97.2 so this was quite high for me. I continued to take notice of it but since I felt so much better, I wasn’t too concerned.

Then, I started noticing a really heavy-handed fatigue coming over me, most especially during exercise. My runs became painfully hard, and I was barely slogging through 3 milers blog6without wanting to just give up and die right in the middle of my running path (nope, not dramatic at all!) For years I’ve run about 40 miles a week…I slowly began knocking the mileage back, back, back because of how tired it made me. I went from 40 to only 15 in a matter of a few weeks. As is usually the case though, I adjusted. I pushed through because running is important to me. The weird fevers and fatigue sort of became my new normal. I of course knew they weren’t actually normal, but they weren’t severe enough to reallllllly hold me back in my daily life. Much. However, my ND and I set out to try and figure out what was causing them.

I had a plethora of blood tests to try and rule out things like Lupus and Lyme disease and EBV…but it’s difficult because many of these tests can produce less-than-accurate results. I learned I was having adrenal problems again (low cortisol via blood tests) and went back on adrenal support, but even though adrenal issues can cause fatigue, it was unlikely it was the cause of the persistent fevers. I had stool tests and the MEGA-MOMMA-OF -ALL -LYME tests (Igenex) just to be certain that it wasn’t Lyme. Everything came back fairly normal.

As this was happening, I was still living my life as best I could. I began teaching at the University of Hawai’i again,
blog3which is seriously just something I LOVE. I taught Undergraduate Women’s Studies over the summer and then was asked to teach Graduate-level Social Work for the fall. I must admit that I was a wee bit nervous to teach graduate school. I really LOVE undergraduates. I love the ages of 18-22 and find the kids to be so open, so eager to learn, so excited about their futures…I didn’t know what to expect of teaching the little baby social workers. However, it’s been fabulous and really solidified the notion that I believe I was born to teach. We get into some really heavy topics for both disciplines…things like addiction, rape, domestic violence, racism, trauma, and I love to find creative ways to challenge my students and to keep the classroom a fun and safe place. I think all of my goofiness and creative powerpoints (read: a lot of cat gifs) really
blog5seem to help. What else? My birthday came and went and I’m now 30 *cough cough years old. I love birthdays. I love the idea of celebrating someone’s life for that day and the start of a new year, despite getting older. Ask me again if I love birthdays when I turn 40, though. ūüėõ My niece


graduated from high school and came to visit her aunts in Hawai’i (way to REALLY make me feel old!) and we had a BLAST playing around my island. I have the coolest niece in the whole world, guys. She’s hilarious and smart and a super talented artist. It is so fun watching her grow into an full-blown adult! I was enjoying teaching and life so much that I began to almost ignore the fatigue and fevers. I mean, WHATEVER, at this point, right? But I did notice that after teaching a class, I was exhausted. I bike to school and back, and just getting on that bicycle and making it home was the most ridiculous chore. I had to keep digging to figure things out.

There was a little niggling voice in the back of my mind, though I dared not speak itblog4 aloud. CANCER. Was it back? I know fevers to be a definite sign of a re-occurrence and I’d also been suffering from bloating again. It’s very easy to tell SIBO bloating from other bloating, btw. SIBO bloating tends to be smaller in the morning and grows throughout the day, as your food sits in your intestines because of a pitiful digestive system that doesn’t know how to do it’s FRIGGIN’ job (like how hard is it to just digest food, right?) But this was the sort of smaller bloat that was just always there, just hanging around like an annoying little sibling. Even though I feel like I handled my initial cancer diagnosis like a BOSS, I must confess (again) that I am overly fearful of it returning. It’s like this dark scary monster troll that’s waiting under the bridge for me. But alas, I had Ultrasounds and a CT and while I had many large polyps on my remaining little ovary (fondly named Kanye West), it was just representative of PCOS, which I’ve had all of my life. Phew. Double phew.

After all of the tests, one tiny thing came back…I was low in T3. I have Hashimoto’s, a thyroid autoimmune, and take natural thyroid supplements daily for it. But low T3 can certainly cause some sluggishness, so my ND decided to prescribe some in addition to the Naturethroid I already take. I started poppin’ those bad boys, not really expecting much to change. After a few weeks, however, I started to notice that my runs were a little bit better. I wasn’t having the massive afternoon crash as much. I could actually manage to squeak out 5-6 miles at a time without breaking it up into 3 separate runs. I was thrilled to have more energy, even though the freakish slight fevers persisted.

blog7At this point, I unilaterally decided that I don’t give a FUCK anymore, y’all. Yeah. I said it. I didn’t even use a * in the word fuck. I just went for it. The fatigue had been more limiting than almost anything else, in terms of really slowing my life down. I even had to say no to an amazing hiking trip to Canada with my husband and nephews because I was so exhausted all of the time that I feared I would slow them down or frustrate them. And if any of you know me at all, you know that I don’t turn down travel. Like ever. I just decided to stop fretting over all of it. I’m not a healthy girl. I may not ever be. I know I’ll never be the picture of health that I once was. But I’ve gotta LIVE. Over the past few years, I’ve turned down countless parties, trips, birthdays, time with family and friends, cocktail hours, events, athletic stuff…and I just don’t wanna do it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think for the most part I’ve been pretty damn chill with all of my health issues, and haven’t let them completely control my life…but I finally decided to go even further than that. I’m actively moving them further down on the list. Life is short, and I wanna enjoy myself.

That of course doesn’t mean that I’m having pizza every meal (oh that I could!) or sprayingblog9 champagne bottles all over a crowd in a club (though that does sound fun), but it means that if one of my girls needs a cocktail night, it’s happening. If my husband wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’re going out for a schmancy meal. Traveling is one of the most important things to me and I’m not waiting until I’m “all better” to do it. I might not ever be all better. In fact, chances are that I won’t. This is it. This is the stage: acceptance. I finally made it, guys! It only took 2 years! I’ve always been a late bloomer (I swear I played with Barbies until well into my teenage years) what can I say?

After I decided this, I was so much happier. I was even better. Less stressed, less fatigued. I started running and exercising even more. I started having pizza Fridays with Joe again (gluten free, of course, with my very own kickASS recipe on this page, if you’re interested). If I craved chocolate, I had it. I’ve been hiking and beaching and day drankin’ with friends. I think this is partly why I haven’t blog10been blogging…I’ve been busy actually living! ūüôā And no, before anyone attacks me, I’m not telling you all that you must make this same decision. You have to be where YOU are, and that’s ok. This is where I am. And when things were really terrible (back when the fatigue or SIBO was at its worst or right after surgery), I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t give up the f*cks. The point is, I think I was waiting until my health was perfect. I finally realized that it is pretty damn good, comparatively, and that I need to enjoy it and stop making it the center of my universe.

So, when Joe announced that he had another work trip to Guam coming up I said, “I’mblog11 going with ya!!!! I wanna see Guam!” I have 2 close friends from Hawai’i that live there and since his company pays for the hotel and food, it seemed too good to pass up! So, off to Guam we went! We stayed at an AMAZING hotel (Dusit Thani) which hand-to-God was the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. I felt like a damn movie star at that hotel. I wanted to live there. The staff is incredibly attentive and even surprised us with a little cake in our room the first night! Sweeping ocean views,
an amazing pool, and the best brunch I have had, maybe ever. Even the friggin’ gym had cold towels in a fridge, soaked with lavender oil for your enjoyment after a nice workout (I’m so fancy, Can’t you taste this gollllld, Remember my name, ’bout to blow…ok sorry, I had a weird Iggy Azalea moment there inspired by decadent lavender-soaked gym towels). This was the first vacation I have had in ages where I relaxed. Usually, I am just running around, trying to see all of the things. This time, the trip was to hang with my friends and have some pampering. I read, I blog13laid by the pool, I ate delicious food, I swam in the ocean, and I went to the spa not once, not twice, but THREE times. Because, vacation Katie. Btw, if you’re ever on Guam, hit up The Westin Guam Spa for an experience you’ll LOVE. I had a body wrap, facial, and two amazing Thai/Swedish massages. It was so good I just kept returning! They will take CARE of you. Best of all, they were all Filipina, so we got to speak a little Tagalog and talk about the Philippines! ūüôā

It was so wonderful to catch up with my friends, Faye and Kristin, and to see their lives on Guam. We met 8 years ago in Hawai’i, and I feel like we picked right up, like no time has passed at all. We shopped, we ate, we drank, we beached, and we gabbed. We even cooked! ūüėõ Sorta.


There is just nothing in the world like good girlfriends, I tell ya. Women have this bond that men will just never understand. Some pics of our fun times:

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Guam is an interesting place, lemme tell ya. It is often described as a mix between Hawai’i and Texas, and I have to say, that description is surprisingly accurate. It is similar to Hawai’i in that it’s tropical (though waaaaay hotter!), but it also has an intensely large military presence, which is where the Texas angle comes in. Everywhere we went we saw military, heard country music, and saw elements of Southern white culture. It makes for a strange little mix. The local Chamorro people were amazingly welcoming, sweet, and so friendly, but the large military population was very intense. As women, I felt like we could hardly go anywhere without being hit on, harassed, and followed. It was OVER-THE-TOP, people. Toxic masculinity abounds on Guam. On one girl’s night in particular, we were walking to a local bar when it started raining, hard. We ducked under the awning of img_1283another bar, and so did a group of men. They were so aggressive with us and intensely macho that we chose to dart out into the POURING (and when I say pouring, I do mean tropical-storm-pouring) rain just to get away from them. Which is why we look like this in this picture. I thought to myself, “How ridiculous that you scared three girls so much that we decided to run into a monsoon just to get away from you. All because you couldn’t understand the word, ‘no.'”

Despite the military pressures, Guam is very lovely, with beautiful clear water and some interesting local attractions. Unfortunately, Joe and I only really got to play together for blog14one full day, but I feel like we did pretty well in that one day. We went to see Two Lover’s Point (or Puntan Dos Amantes) which is essentially the Romeo and Juliet of Guam folklore. Two lovers tied their hair together and leaped to their watery death to escape persecution. The statue was truly most impressive, as were the incredible views. Next, we moseyed on over to see Talofofo Falls, which was blog15a hilarious experience. It has a sort of theme park surrounding it with different “attractions.” Some of those attractions are a super weird, out-of-place ghost house (a haunted house), a little park with pornographic statues, the cave that a man lived in for 28 years (Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi, A Japanese imperial army straggler that hid/lived in a tiny cave, not knowing the war was over… I mean yo, this dude lived in a friggin’ CAVE for 28 YEARS, people!!!), and the “monorail” that takes you around the park (which is essentially a plank with folding chairs nailed to it that travels along a wire and is operated by what appears to be a small lawnmower motor). ūüėõ I’m telling you, this park has character.  We DIED when we saw the monorail. Best thing ever. The falls were beautiful and we really enjoyed the park. However, my favorite part was most definitely the piggies. ūüôā Can you tell I’m excited? ūüėõ

Sadly, this was our only day to play because on the 5th night on Guam, I came down with horrific food poisoning. Now, in case you don’t know, those with SIBO are more prone to get food poisoning, so it’s a good idea to really try to be as cautious as possible. I came armed with Xifaxin, Neem, and Berberine. I thought I was doing everything right, and honestly, I wasn’t really that worried about food poisoning, because come ON…we weren’t in the jungles of Malaysia, we were in Guam! I had planned a fantastic chill night by myself on the evening that I got sick. I had a bubble bath, had ordered a cheesy chick flick, and ordered a pizza. I was super stoked to just BE and do a little vacation pigging out. Right before my pizza arrived, I started feeling super weird. Clammy and achy and my stomach hurt. I really thought it would pass and figured maybe it was just my body’s way of telling
gallery9me that I needed to lay off the vacation alcohol (I’d been having some fun. I mean my hotel gave out free jello shots, y’all!!! What’s a girl to do?) I had about 1/2 a slice of pizza and then had to stop. I was deathly sick you guys. I puked 9 times in 3 hours. You know how when you get the stomach flu and there are those like 20 minutes right after you barf where you feel better, almost normal for a short while? And you’re SO grateful for those 20 minutes?! Nope. I got like 2 minutes of that in between each up-chucking sess. I had a crazy high fever and felt like I was dying.

Hilariously, and I am not ashamed to tell you all this because you KNOW I keep it real, Iblog17 had (pre-puke explosion) texted Joe (who was out to dinner with coworkers) that tonight was THE night for sexy sexy time. We’d been so busy seeing friends and working while there that we’d barely had any time alone. So I texted him a provocative bubble bath photo and told him that the hotel would be put to good use. And then yeah…flash to him skipping through the door thinking he’s gonna get laid only to hear the disgusting sounds of me puking in the bathroom. Sexy, indeed. Purrrrrrrrrrr.

I was in bed all of the next day (the ONLY sunny day of my trip, btw…thanks Obama!) but made it out on our last day to play around the island. Even though I felt well enough to get out, I couldn’t eat normally for nearly 5 days, and subsisted on crackers and oatmeal in the meantime, losing about 7 lbs in only 5 days.

When I got home, I unfortunately started having quite a bit of digestive trouble again. My SIBO has been in some form of maintainable remission for over a year and a half, but the food poisoning definitely set me back. I tried to give my old tummy a little time to settle img_1469down, but after being back a week and still struggling, I dragged myself to my ND’s office. Good grief, I don’t even know why I call her “ND” as I should just call her Kristin (her name), since we’re basically besties at this point and I’m pretty much paying her monthly mortgage. A slew of stool tests were ordered (always super fun to poop in tiny tubes – welcome to the world of SIBO!) to see if I brought any little friends home with me. But, no parasites to be found! I had to admit to myself  that the food poisoning might have brought my SIBO back in full effect. So once again, I trudged to the Gastro office to blow into tiny tubes for 3 hours.  I knew that if the numbers came back positive, I would just go straight for the elemental all over again. I don’t wanna mess around. Though even typing those words make me want to cry all over my keyboard.

Alas, the number came back very, very low…meaning I am SIBO free! HOW?!?!?! I have no fucking clue. But I don’t currrrr because I’ll take it! I made the nurse snapchat a Happy-No-SIBO dance, and I’m pretty sure she thought I was bonkers. I suppose that’s not a far off assessment, to be fair.

I suppose all of this hard work has actually lead to some healing. I am still having a little bit of bloating and digestive distress, so I will continue on my new regimen of Chinese herbs, which is a new thing I’m trying. My ND decided that since I don’t respond to herbals OR antibiotics, I might be able to keep bacteria at bay with Chinese herbs, specifically tailored to some of my issues (in my case in particular, something called Raise Qi ).

Once I got food poisoning, several people in my SIBO group asked if I would stop traveling.blog19 My answer: HELL NAH! Traveling is one of my all-time favorite things in the world. If I have to puke every time I do it, so be it. ūüėõ Not only is it one of the best teachers (of the world and about yourself), but it’s something Joe and I both love to do. Anytime we start to struggle as a couple, we take a trip and it’s like this lovely blog20little reset button. We remember why we’re us. We relax and play and enjoy each other and come back home more refreshed and in love. So no, I will not be stopping. Traveling also gives me great perspective on any trials or illnesses I have. It shows me how small I am in the world, and how small my problems are in comparison. I don’t say that to shame others that are struggling with sickness or grieving their old life (that is totally a part of the healing process) I am just speaking about what helps me, and that involves keeping a wider perspective.

Just because my test was negative and I no longer give allll of the f*cks, doesn’t mean my health journey is over. I still have things to figure out and work to do, and I’m happy to keep plugging along. I’m also happy you’re plugging along with me. Maybe it’s time for you to give less f*cks too? ūüėõ Let’s start a hashtag: #igivenomorefucksaboutsibo

So, das about it! I have GOT to do better than this. I promise to be a better blogger. Oh who am I kidding? I’m always gonna struggle to keep this thing up, but I promise not to stop, how’s that? Before I leave you, I want to mention that many times, people try to friend me via facebook because they follow the blog. I so appreciate you wasnapcodenting to know me more and better, but I try to keep facebook to friends and family only. However, you are welcome to follow my travels and antics and cooking and cat videos and silliness on instagram (katiemcaldwell) or snapchat (katiemariecqld) where I talk about errrrythang. I f*cking LOVE snapchat.

So, here’s to health and wellness and stool tests and blowing in tubes and travel and love and always, always, ALWAYS kickin’ some SIBO ass. ūüėõ


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I know, I know. Bad blogger! It’s been awhile. I’ve been a busy Katie. It’s been an interesting few months. The last we spoke, I was deep into cancer mode and my consequent hormonal insanity (what? it’s a thing) while also trying to figure out how to navigate others’ reactions to this newfound diagnosis. Now, it’s 2016 people, and I’m ready to leave cancer Katie behind. She was kinda a drag, anyway.

I feel like I have so much to say to you! Yes, YOU. Just you. Not anyone else. (Ok I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’ve had a few gluten-free beers on the beach with my little sis and then decided to sit down and write this. This usually means I think I am HILARIOUSLY funny and no one else does, soooo…just a warning that this will be unabashedly and monstrously hysterical. To me.) And my beer top said, “Drinking is believing,” which, come on…that shit is like Shakespeare. And oh-so-true.

Joe and I decided to go to our home state of Kentucky for Christmas this year. We try to go every other year. I’d noticed that I was having some tummy issues again before our trip. Nothing huge, but it still concerned me. Like all other people that have ever dealt with SIBO, I am always fearful of a relapse. I feel like at ANY moment those little bacteria dickheads will stage a revolution, blowing me up like a water buffalo. I decided to do a quick elemental fast before going home (read about my original elemental 23 day fast here) ideally hoping to¬†starve some of the disgusting jerks¬†that like to have an orgy inabsorbplus my gut (yes, I went there) reproducing their bastard bacteria babies. I decided this time to do it with Absorbplus AND leftover Vivonex T.E.N. shakes. But first, I have to take a hot minute to¬†make fun of the Absorbplus website, because this picture ————————>

is hilarious. NO ONE is that ridiculously and psychotically happy about those f*cking shakes. And I also love how they include a piece of fruit on it. Fruit you cannot consume while on the elemental. Brilliant marketing, ya’ll. But anyway, lemme just admit to you that I struggled hard this time around. I’m not quite sure why. It’s not like the first time I did the elemental was a breeze or anything, but I didn’t struggle like this. I did it for 4 days and thought I would die of hunger. And anger. I was so¬†RAGE-Y (are these bacteria anger-producing?)

Previously, when I relied solely on Vivonex T.E.N., I really wasn’t ever¬†hungry. I mean I wanted to eat, but I didn’t feel like I was starving. Absorbplus for some reason (while it tastes much better than the pure fartiness of Vivonex) just doesn’t fill me up in the same way. I had intense headaches and hated every single second of those 5 days. It might not help that I’m still dealing with some hormonal stuff, however. I’m sure you couldn’t tell by how dramatic I’m being. As soon as I finished those 5 days I was happy as a f*cking clam to eat again. I went to Kentucky and was SO proud of myself. I stayed gluten free EVENblog2 over Christmas. I didn’t even think it was possible in the South (especially a tiny coal-mining town where everything is fried and delicious and horrible for you). I made my own¬†food for Christmas with my sisters, even making my own gf pizza and having gf Rice Krispies delivered via Amazon to make Krispy treats with. I resisted beer and opted for enough bourbon while I was home to kill a derby horse (Kentuckians LOVE their bourbon…AND derby horses) and managed to run nearly every day while home.

It’s always fun to be home…the accents, the familiarity, the fact that I can go to the local coffee shop downtown and run into 12 people that I know or that know my family (i.e….”You must be a ‘Young’ because you look JUST like yo daddy!”) ūüôā Seeing my cousins and high school buddies and running around my hometown fills me chock-full of memories and nostalgia. Hanging with my sisters – drinking booze and opening presents and playing cards. Hanging with my nieces and nephews – playing games, singing karaoke (Joe and I got our niece a karaoke machine and she and I sang Taylor Swift all the livelong night. It was glorious) and stuffing our faces. It’s super wonderful and makes me miss everyone and lament being so far away. But, it’s intense too. It’s crazy and busy as we rush from one family to the other. Iblog4 felt like I was always rushing through a lunch or breakfast, just to¬†finish and then run¬†out to meet the next person. And we get so busy that Joe and I hardly see each other over the holidays that we do spend in Kentucky. It’s also just strange being home, as it reminds me of where I come from and how different I am now. I LOVE my home, please don’t misunderstand, but I simply don’t belong there anymore and it leaves me feeling almost…sad. Or lonely. And that loneliness is never more palpable than being home at Christmas. I love Christmas so much. It’s my Mom’s fault. She was like Mrs. Claus. I’ve seriously never met another human being that loves Christmas more. But ever since she passed away, Christmas at home has never been the same. I’ll always love it, because she taught me to. And I love it because loving it is a way to honor her and makes me feel closer to her; however, it makes me miss her so badly that it aches. It aches the way that blog5fresh grief aches. I always go for a run out to her grave when I’m home. This year I decided to bring Christmas decorations and place them there for her. I picked up two armfuls of decorations and ran with one bag under each arm. I looked ridiculous and I jingled and jangled all of the way there, because some of the decorations had bells. I laughed at myself and how ridiculous I looked/sounded. She would have loved it. I sang carols to her. I cried. I tried to imagine what she would say or think of my life and my choices…choices so very different from hers. I love being home, but there is a sadness there that will I suppose will always be present. ‘Cause you never get over missin’ your Mama.

But even with all of the craziness and sadness, we had a great visit home. It’s bittersweet, because we love seeing friends and family but we hate saying goodbye. Anyway, here is a little slideshow of some of the rest of our trip. ¬†ūüôā


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After a fun and busy visit, we¬†went to Nashville to see my Granny (aka…the mostblog24 amazing woman I’ve ever known) and stay in a nice hotel for a night before getting on a plane again for 10 hours. I was awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call with a recorded voice telling me to hold – that my flight had been cancelled due to “weather.” Weather?!?! It had been crazy warm the entire time we were home. No snow, nothing. I looked outside…dry as a bone. WTF? TWO HOURS later (at 2am, mind you, after I’d about lost my damn mind listening to the recorded voice tell me it will only be “20 minutes” and had about drop-kicked Joe every time he fell asleep because dammit I was NOT going to be the only one kept awake with this ridiculous robot woman) a person comes on to tell me that the flight is cancelled due to weather in Texas. We cannot get out to Honolulu for FIVE more days,


Maggie’s Cat purrrthday

and we will get absolutely zero compensation nor a hotel stipend during that time. Well, ok. Thanks a lot American Airlines. Class act. So the next day, we sheepishly packed up and headed back to Kentucky for New Year’s! Wasn’t what we’d planned, but we had fun anyway. I got to hang with my sisters and niece some more and actually spend myblog31 sister Maggie’s birthday with her (she’s a¬†New year’s baby!) I don’t think I’ve been¬†able to do that since I was a kid! Naturally the theme was Cats. Because cats. It was, however, the first New¬†year’s that Joe and I have ever spent apart. Which was kinda sad considering how much I love New Year’s, but we both wanted to be with our respective families that night, so we caught up and “kissed” via face time. Ah, technology. You are a wonderful, weird thing.

I am sad to admit that even though I was a SIBO friggin’ ROCKSTAR the first part ofblog26 the¬†trip, after we got stranded there, I fell off
the SIBO horse. Into a pile of gluten. And chocolate. And booze. And every other thing terrible for me. I caved and it was bad. I felt gross and bloated and SHOULD have felt ashamed. But I cannot lie. I totally enjoyed it.

When I got home, I decided enough was enough. I needed to get my SHIT TOGETHER. My LIFE together.


Last IV session!


I’ve been diligently going to my natural chemo sessions, and am happy to report that I’m finished!!!! I am SO happy to be done with those. Not only were they quite boring most of the time (sitting for 3 hours twice a week at the doctor’s office), but they made me heachache-y and tired. Still, hard to complain when so many others on my ovarian cancer forums are going through the brutality of REAL chemo. I also made a few friends sitting in the doctor’s office…people who are going through breast or kidney cancer or getting IV treatments for MS. Great


Celebrating with friends that I’m cancer free!


women, and having company makes the 3 hours fly by! It also helps to keep my issues in perspective, which as you know (because I talk about it ad nauseam) is a really important component of this health process for me. But the really exciting super good news is that¬†I learned that I am officially¬†in remission!!! [TRUMPETS SOUNDING, beer glasses clinking, Katie doing a happy dance] Shortest bout of cancer EVAR, ya’ll! I was strangely super stoked to hear those words. I mean it’s obviously good news, but since I never really reacted to having cancer in the first place, it kind of shocked me that I reacted so much to being told it was gone. It’s a funny thing…I think I am more freaked out and frightened about it coming back than I was about having it in the first place. The fear of a reoccurrence is oddly palpable. But hey – I’m cancer free and ready to move on. It’s time. Also, as I mentioned last post, I sent my Debbie Dammit Doll out on her very first adventure! She went with lots of prizes and gifts from Hawai’i nei to another women struggling with cancer. I hope she’s now on her way to brighten someone else’s day! Go Debbie, go!


So, what have I been up to? As mentioned above, I’ve been trying to get my friggin’ shit together. This last year has been so dedicated to healing and getting well and figuring things out health-wise, that I sort of lost myself. I tried not to, but it happened anyway. blog30Between SIBO and the slew of other health issues that accompanied it (h pylori, hashimotos, hiatal hernia, illeocecal valve dysfunction, hormonal and adrenal issues, and finally ovarian cancer) I felt like a damn disaster of a person. At 36 years old. I came to the realization that I’ve been sort of living with a low-grade depression. Not SUPER down, but not ever really happy either. My oldest sister, who ALWAYS speaks the truth (both awesome and annoying depending on your mood – love ya, sis!) sort of called me out on this last month. She pointed out that I wasn’t myself…that I wasn’t volunteering as much, that I seemed distant, that I wasn’t invested in work. It hurt to hear, because it immediately felt like a criticism or an accusation. But once I took a step back, I understood; she cares about me, she¬†is worried. And honestly, for good reason. I began to think about it. I hadn’t played guitar in 10 months (something I used to do nearly every day). I hadn’t read an entire book (other than books about my health conditions) all year, and I’m


The old Katie. :/


normally an extremely avid reader. I’ve been avoiding the outdoors other than running, or occasionally biking to health-related appointments, which is supremely rare for me. I love the ocean, I love to hike, I love just sitting in the park in my hammock reading a good book, but had barely done it all year. It wasn’t that I was actively hiding out, it occurred to me – it was that there was no desire to do these things. It was a profound lack of motivation, which told me that I had been ignoring feeling down and had been leaning into this general sort of malaise. And anyone that knows me knows that I very much despise laziness and apathy. But here I was, feeling apathetic about almost everything. I had stopped doing all of the things that made me, me.

Wow – I’m just jumping right in here, folks! Nope, haven’t written in months so lets talk in depth about my depression! (If this is your first time reading, this is pretty much par for the course. I don’t mess around). I started to analyze WHY I was feeling this way. What was really going on? I don’t want to be this person. I missed being who I was, but I certainly wasn’t feeling motivated to change it. I decided that perhaps it might have something to do with my health issues, and not just psychologically or hormonally speaking. I had gene testing done this last year through 23&me, but never had the results analyzed. I decided to finally take the results to my ND to see if anything would be uncovered. As it so happens, there were just more rocks we hadn’t yet managed to look under. It turns out I have an MTHFR mutation (which my husband also has), a blog33CBS up regulation, and a MAO mutation. To water this down to the most basic of info, this affects my body’s ability to properly methylate and use folic acid or folate. That only means something to but a few of you, but trust me…it matters. I was also insanely low in Vitamin D, despite spending quite a lot of time in the sun, running and biking.¬†These new results¬†certainly don’t¬†redefine my whole health¬†puzzle, but they definitely influence it. For example, once my husband was diagnosed with MTHFR and started getting treatment for it, I REALLY noticed a change in him. He seemed more engaged with me and with work, less apathetic and more connected to his feelings, and more motivated to do things. He started becoming the dude I fell in love with. And after living with a man that is prone to depression, it was wonderful to witness. If I didn’t see Joe’s transition, I don’t know that I would have invested so much in learning about my own genetic mutations. These mutations are INCREDIBLY confusing, however. I feel like you have to be a damn rocket scientist to figure them out. I learned that my combo of mutations makes me prone to gut distress (Nah, REALLY?) and to depression (ding, ding, ding!) both of which run in my family heavily. It’s also greatly related to thyroid issues, which of course I also struggle with. So here we are again, finding yet another “root” cause to my SIBO. It seems like there’s a new one about every 2 months or so. What will we uncover next? Yellow fever? Elephantiasis?

So, I used the New Year as an excuse to get back to Katie. As I mentioned, I love New Year’s. I love goal-setting and resolution making. I love the idea of a fresh start andblog34 the excitement of ringing in the new year with bells and whistles and kisses. When we got back from our trip to¬† Kentucky, I picked up my dusty, out-of-tune guitar. I clumsily strummed it and sang. I only made it a few songs before my fingers hurt, and my rhythm was terrible, but I did it. I’ve played every single day since. I agreed to teach Gender and Violence for the University of Hawai’i over the summer. I took on a temporary (but totally awesome!) gig as a writer and social worker for Making Media That Matters¬†with Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking (PUHlease support blog35us by liking us on Facebook!) – a group dedicated to using film as a means for teenage girls to express themselves and the issues that they deal with. It’s been SUPER fun so far. I met with my boss for my other job and asked for more hours. He agreed as we are moving into the Legislative season here in Honolulu (it’s a political org) and it’s been keeping me hoppin’! I submitted a story that was accepted for another local magazine, and I’ve made a concerted effort to get to the beach more and be outside in nature more.

So basically, I’m trying. It’s still sort of an effort some days, but I will admit that I DO feel better when I get out and do what I need to do and what makes me happy. My guitar-playing blisters are back and I’ve learned 3 new songs. I’m loving my new job and excited to start planning my syllabus for the summer for UH. I’ve missed teaching. My ND and I are addressing the mutations (I feel like an alien when I refer to myself as havingblog36 “mutations”) and I will start “treatment” (i.e. a lot of methylated vitamins) for that very soon. I hope this improves my mood and motivation. Plus, I’m still dealing with residual hormonal issues from the surgery, so there’s that. But that’s been significantly better, thank God. I’m sure Joe and everyone else in my life thanks God, also. ūüėõ

What a crazy-ass rollercoaster of a year 2015 was. While I really hated a whole damn lot of it, I certainly also learned a lot about myself. And I’ve had a lot of fun with you guys and with this blog. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and it’s nice to connect with strangers over small intestines and ovaries. ūüėõ

To add insult to SIBO injury, my poor little sis was diagnosed with¬†SIBO a few weeks ago. I had a sneaking suspicion she had it, but I felt SO terrible when she told me it was official. This means that all 4 of us (my 3 sisters and I) have gut issues and disorders. Thanks, parents. ūüėõ It sucks to watch her struggle and go through all of the stages I went through blog37last year. It’s also hard not to play doctor. I’ve read so much and learned and researched sooo much that I think I’m some kind of SIBO savant (I’m not), but I have to hold my tongue and let her handle it her own way. We’re alike in so many ways (this is how alike we are – this picture was NOT staged to be the same. Here we are getting our Master’s degrees from the SAME school in the SAME thing, social work, and these pics were taken one year apart. YEAH. :P) I forget sometimes that¬†we’re going to react differently; she’s not me and I’m not her. And hey – if we’ve learned ONE thing, it’s that no one reacts to SIBO in a predictable or similar way right? I try not to send her stuff I know she won’t read, but it’s harrrrrd. It’s so tempting! ¬†I’m er, obviously not so good at that whole holding back thing I’m afraid. But I’m working on it. (Sorry sis!) Several people have said, “Oh she’s so lucky to have you to help guide her through this!” and it makes me want to laugh, because I think that’s the last thing she wants.

Next on my to-do agenda is to get back on the wagon. Theblog38 ¬†Fast Tract Diet wagon. For those that¬†have never read my blog before, I am a HUGE lover of the Fast Tract Diet for SIBO. To see why I chose it, read my post on it here. I get so frustrated that newbies never know about this diet option, since doctors only ever recommend FODMAPS or SCD (which, let’s face it…if that shit were working for all of us,¬†there would be far fewer people reading this blog right now). I see success stories in the Fast Tract Facebook group every day, so if you’re feeling frustrated by your diet and not getting results, or you’ve been on your diet for months and you’re still a bloated miserable monster, look into the FTD (plus the new app is totally kickass!) Here is the website for the diet with tons of great info for you. **And no, I’m not selling it or getting kickbacks for this ringing endorsement¬†(but ahem, I would glad accept them…I’m lookin’ at you, Norm, for I think I’ve brought you a lot of business there, buddy! :P) In all seriousness though, I actually just really believe in it. However, if whatever diet you are currently on is working for you, by all means continue.**

Ever since that initial¬†food slip-up on vacation, I’ve never REALLY gotten back to it, not entirely. I need to tighten up the diet, make a concerted effort to keep up with my workouts, and treat my body better. I swore I would never take my body for granted again after getting sick (much like a little kid that promises they will appreciate feeling normal if they can JUST get over the stomach flu!) but I totally, like, lied. Just a few months after feeling better I’m slacking off and putting crap in my body. I’m skipping my runs and binge watching high school dramas on Netflix (high school dramas are sort of my thing…my secret tv shame). It wasn’t TOTALLY terrible, but it wasn’tblog39 great. You would think I would have learned from this last year, but I’m clearly dumb as dirt. So…who’s with me? Let’s DO THIS. If you’ve been slacking and you’re ready to recommit or you just need a good kick in the ass because you haven’t really started your SIBO diet yet, let’s do it together! ¬†I swear I wish I had someone to walk around behind me and whisper fear-mongering things in my ear or smack food out of my hand. Someone needs to be my virtual hand-slapper.¬†I’m crawling out of the sugar and gluten quicksand and draggin’ yer ass with me.

Before I forget, I’ve noticed that many people after reading the blog try to find and follow me on facebook. If you’ve tried this and are offended that I haven’t added you, my sincere apologies. For now, I’m trying to keep facebook to people¬†I actually know. Sometimes that includes people that I spent a lot of time talking to in the SIBO groups, but I very rarely add complete strangers. Please don’t be offended by this, I just post a lot of personal stuff on there. However, I’m totally fine with you following me on instagram, if you’re so inclined. I do post pics of yummy FTD/low fodmap recipes on there pretty frequently if you are in need of food help (as well as copious amounts of cat pictures). ¬†ūüôā¬†

Click on the little icon below to follow!



Let’s make 2016 amazing. I’ve dubbed it #theyearofkatie. And it’s going to be, dammit! Make it the #yearofyou, too. ūüôā


Hello, friends.  IF you’re new to the ballad, feel free to peruse. I talk about my experience with the elemental diet here, with SIBO here, and recipes here. Remember how (in my last blog) I talked about the negative impact of positivity? How shoving positive thinking down everyones’ throats can be toxic? Yeah. I’m glad I wrote that, because this post will be anything but positive. Well, that’s not true, because it will be positively whiney.  I excel at whining.  If whining were an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medalist. Case and point: I already wrote this blog post once, and failed to properly save it.  I consequently whined about this for about 30 minutes straight to my husband, who just kept giving me side-eye God love him (he REALLY knows when to keep his mouth shut. It’s a gift).  But whatever. Blogs are like pancakes and your first child, the first one always turns out terribly. ūüėõ

I have a confession to make: I am a hormonal disaster.  As517ce4dcc885d7ac47a5e199ba6d00ea many of you know, I had my left ovary removed (oophorectomy) a few months ago because of a cancerous mass found feeding off of it like a creepy little leech. A cancerous, ovarian leech. Your ovaries greatly regulate your female-ish hormones. When you lose one, ummmm…you have a period of…adjustment. “Adjustment” being a nice way to say “A period of feeling bat-shit crazy.”  I ain’t even gonna lie, kids, it’s been HARD. Because my particular tumor was producing giant amounts of hormone13estrogen, my body had adapted and adjusted. When that estrogen was taken away, my body reacted by turning me into a hormonal pot pie. This usually manifests itself into intense weepiness, with the occasional bout of sadistic angry. It’s very difficult to decipher what is hormonal and what is a true emotion, because it all feels real in the moment.  But regardless, it’s miserable. I’ll give you an example:

We (my husband Joe and I) reuse glass jars.  We use them as tupperware, as drinking glasses, and as storage options. As such, when we finish a jar of say, coconut oil, we have to peel off the label and clean the jar.  This is where it gets tricky (read: hormonal). The jars seem to multiply and reproduce and create little jar babies that stack up beside our kitchen sink. This always irritates me. Joe and I have a system where he is supposed to peel off the label and scrub the remnants off.  I, in turn, wash the jar and put it away.  Joe likes to wait until there are approximately 798 jars precariously stacked by our kitchen sink and THEN decide to clean off 2.  It always irks me. But now, with only Kanye West left (my right ovary), it apparently turns me into a hormonal version of Annie Wilkes.

I walk past the sink.  I see the jars. I turn to Joe and ask, “Wh
en do you think you can get to those jars?”  He doesn’t look up from his book. “I don’t know. Sometime.” The rage starts rising up within me. “SOMETIME IS NOT AN ANSWER.” I say through clenched teeth. He looks up and blinks at me. “How about today?” I say in a fake cheerful voice (trying to convince myself to calm the f*ck down). “Maybe. We’ll see?” Joe looks at me with silent fear, calmly waiting to see if I erupt like Vesuvius.  The hormones win…I promptly lose my shit. I get so mad I can feel the sweat creeping in, I can feel the heat rising in my face.  Somewhere in my mind is a little voice saying, “Jars, Katie. This is about jars.” I ignore the stupid f*cking voice. I lash out and list every reason I hate the jars piled up. I list every reason every single f*cking thing on earth has ever made me mad.  I start a fight. I pick up a jar for emphasis and somehow resist the urge to hurl it against the wall. I leave the room in a huff, completely pissed and thoroughly convinced I am vindicated in my pissed-offedness.  20 minutes later, I sheepishly walk into the living room. I sit down next to Joe. I tell him I’m sorry. I cry.  He kindly soothes me and I cry harder. Then I start to laugh, because I know how nuts I sound. He looks a little frightened but then he laughs too. We sit and laugh together for a few minutes at my insanity. hormoneblogThen I start to get mad that he’s laughing so hard. “It’s NOT funny,” I begin to think. My face changes and my eyes narrow and he says, “Are you getting angry that I’m laughing too?” I slowly nod. Then we laugh again.

Obviously, I’m not really this bonkers.  It’s hormonal, it’s biological.  My body has lost an entire body part and is trying to regulate itself and readjust.  It’s a little miserable, but it will get there. But for now, this is my life.

Since I believe in total transparency, I’ve been pretty open and forthcoming about my incredibly hormonal ridiculousness.  I talk about it openly on facebook and with my friends.  However, I just HAVE to discuss one thing. The response that has been driving me BATTY, is THIS reaction: “Oh wow. POOR JOE!!!!  How is he handling it?!?!  Is he ok?  I feel so bad for him!”  The immense  outpouring of sympathy for my husband is incredibly irritating.  And no, that’s not the hormones talking, that’s the feminist talking.

Firstly, thank you sooo much for expressing sooo much empathy for my husband as he goes through this incredibly difficult hormonal transition, while also trying to deal with a surprise diagnosis of cancer.  Oh wait, no he’s not. Whoops, I must have forgotten, as you did, that he’s actually NOT the one going through that.  Secondly, I know women are hormonally-challenged crazy bitch monsters, and it’s so immensely sad that men have to deal with us, except that it’s not. Men call us crazy and we women internalize it and refer to ourselves as crazy for reasons far more complex than this blog can go into.  This article actually nails it:

“Because she had a feeling, so she expressed it. Because she had an emotion, so she felt it. Because she had an opinion, so she communicated it. Because she got hurt, so she reacted to it. All of this, apparently, deemed her crazy. A close cousin of the word crazy is the word ‚Äúhysteria.‚ÄĚ Hysteria, which comes from the Greek word for uterus ‚ÄĒ would you look at that?”

Somehow, no one ever refers to men as “crazy” or “hormonal.”  Men only commit 98% of all violent crimes in the world.  Murders, rapes, trafficking, Johns, domestic violence, stalking, sexual abuse, assault…these are obviously well-thought out choices and the acts of extremely sane and calmhormone4 individuals, right? I mean really?The next time you see some dude in a bar lose his shit because some other guy accidentally bumped into him, or a girl dared to rebuff his drunken advances, or see him chase someone down that cut him off on the highway so he can try to beat the crap out of them…just remember that women are REALLY the crazy ones. Yeah. And no (before you attack me) I’m not trying to pit men against women here, just pointing out the irony of our backwards thinking on this subject.  

And lastly (and this is the real kicker) can we just for a hot minute, remember that my husband several years ago had hormone5thyroid cancer?  (Ok, I realize many of you did not know this but most of my friends and family do).  He had a complete thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid and parathyroid).  Do you know what the thyroid controls?  Ding, ding, ding! Hormones!  After his surgery, my normally very even-keeled husband was a hormonal wreck.  He was downright mean as shit sometimes.  Do you know how many people expressed sympathy for me during this time? ZERO. Nada.  Not one person made a single remark to that effect.  Not one person ever commented on how hard it must be for ME, to Joe (yes, I asked him).  This is because we still largely view women as the “crazy” ones and express sympathy for the “poor men” that have to deal with us.  Well, I’m saying THAT is crazy. Yes, I’m hormonal.  And yes, my husband has to deal with it. But he can be extra patient and loving with me for a few months, just like I was with him.  He can and is.  So think before you automatically default to calling a woman crazy, simply because she is expressing an emotion or because she is “PMS-ing.”  Men are hugely emotional too, we just allow it more readily and give them permission to express their aggression in ways that we don’t allow women.

Are you still with me?  Hating me yet?  Are all of you changing your minds about me being so “positive” yet? Hahaha…now you see the assholeishness I’ve been referring to all along!  It feels good to unleash the ass!

…That was a very weird sentence.

Anywho, on the cancer front,hormone7 things are going really well.  I think I’m THISCLOSE to being considered in remission. I am just waiting on a few more blood tests to come back normal. I’ve been doing natural chemo sessions twice a week. Natural chemo, in case you’re wondering, is essentially high-dose vitamin C. If you’re interested in learning more about Ovarian cancer and vitamin C, try this article.  The side effects are minimal.  It causes fatigue that can range from mild to intense and usually only lasts a day or so.  It also causes mild headaches and achiness around the injection site.  So, small potatoes compared to Western chemo practices.  It’s a drip process, so each treatment takes about 2-3 hours.  I usually set myself up with blankets, water, a snack, and a book or ipad and settle in.  Last week I had a buddy in the room with me.  She is a breast cancer patient that has elected to treat her cancer naturally.  She was diagnosed at stage IV and has been totally kicking ass.  She looked great (she was 20 years older than me and looked my age…life is unfair) and told me that she was so glad she had gone this (natural) route.  To be clear, I advocate that everyone make their own decisions regarding treatment, so I’m not bashing Western medical approaches, but I do love combining both natural and Western medicine; both have validity and both are important.

My friend Sarah hormone6stopped by to give me this cancer “Dammit Doll” which is like a funny little voodoo doll for cancer patients.  It was super funny and cute, so I brought it to my appointment.  My awesome ND even threw some acupuncture into the doll’s pelvis for me while I got my treatment! Hahaha!  She said, “What if I put in some acupuncture points on the doll? Is that too weird?”  This is why I love her.  I was like, “THAT. IS. AWESOME. Yes, let’s do that and take pictures.” While I was getting treatment, it occurred to me how many women in my ovarian cancer group are sooo much more sick than myself.  I concocted an idea to send Debbie (Debbie Downer the Dammit Doll) to someone in the group with a care package full of fun Hawai’i things.  They in turn, must send it to someone else in the group that needs some hope, love, or extra courage. The group was totally game, which is super fun.  So, lil’ Debbie will be going on the trip of a lifetime!  ūüôā  

I also had a follow-up MRI this past week and passed withhormone8.jpg flying colors! Whooo hoooo!!!  Shortest bout of cancer EVAR, people. Let’s hope, anyway.  I’ll get monitored monthly for awhile, then every 3 months, then every 6 months.  The good news is, the type of cancer I have is very slow-growing. The bad news is that reoccurrence rates are quite high, so I want to keep on top of it.

Annnnnd that brings me to mah next item on the bitchlist. Since beginning this crazy health year, a lot of shit has been brought to my attention, specifically related to how others react to people that are ill.  As such, this is a list of what NOT to say/do to people that have cancer.  Mmmmmkay?

1). Oh, you have Ovarian cancer?  Wow.  My Mom/Aunt/Sister died of that. It was brutal.
REALLY?  That’s the first thing you want to say to me?  I’m never sure how to react when someone says this and confusingly, it’s a statement I get rather often. There is not an appropriate response. I usually just blink at them until hormone9they feel uncomfortable enough to try and dig a deeper hole…(“I mean…YOU’RE not going to die. Like plenty of women live, my Mom just wasn’t one of them…yeah.”). Sometimes they don’t get the hint and continue rambling about the brutality of that person’s demise.  My Mom died of lung cancer…do you know what is NEVER the first thing I say to someone who tells me they or someone they love has lung cancer?  Yeah.  That.  

Ooooohhhh…you should try ____ diet!  Or ____ herbs!  Or I read an article about 17 years ago that stated you should try to eat ____ !  (Then they look at me proudly, like they’ve just given me the key to ending my cancer diagnosis). 
I have gotten so much unsolicited advice in the last few months that my head could explode.  I now officially understand how my pregnant friends feel.  Don’t get me wrong, I DO know that this usually comes from a very good place. They’re concerned, they care about me, and they want to contribute something or feel like they’re doing something helpful. I DO get it. But I need you all to get that it’s frustrating sometimes.  

I am on a very restricted diet already for my multiplehormone15 digestive issues. Therefore no, I don’t need to go gluten-free or low-sugar (already there!) or try that new alkaline or ketogenic diet or that rare fruit only found in the hills of the Galapagos that is SURE to cure my cancer.  Not only is diet a pretty personal choice, but I can’t go all-raw-vegetarian because my insides would kill me.  So please just stop. I know you mean well, but pleeeeeeaaaase.  I cannot take another message about what I “should” be eating. I’m on top of it. I promise.

3) I came across this article and thought it might be especially helpful for you!
Ok, this one I realize might make me sound like a dick. A few friends have sent me a few articles on cancer.  Peer-reviewed, medical journal articles.  This is fine.  I actually will read them.  However, I think people see the word “cancer” and think to themselves, “Hmmm Katie has cancer…this is surely applicable to her!”  Not always. An article on prostate cancer isn’t going to be much help to me (seriously…that happened).  I have a specific type of cancer that is in fact, quite rare.  I appreciate being thought of, I truly do. But it becomes almost an obligation when so many people are sending you articles…to read them, to thank the person for thinking of you, and to respond adequately.  I alsohormone16 get crazy, non-scholarly, fear-mongering articles for the same reason; they see cancer, they send it to me.  This is even more frustrating, for the same reasons listed above, with the addition of having to explain to a person that’s just trying to help (in a nice, patient way) why the article sounds cray -cray. ūüėõ  So I kindly ask you to just take a beat before sending something to me.  Is it REALLY applicable? Will it actually be useful? Because if not, it just causes more stress.  

There are more, but I won’t drone on complaining (er, more). I realize (having been there myself) that you want to help. It’s hard when someone you know and love or care about is going through something scary or weird that you don’t understand.  But there are better ways.  I am a person that has trouble asking for help.  I am very in tune with my feelings, but I have a tendency to downplay them.  When someone asks, “How are you?” I am going to say, “Fine.”  I feel guilty complaining, I feel guilty unloading on someone else.  I feel guilty talking about my SIBO or cancer or any other health ailment when I know other people have it far, far worse.  I feel silly, I feel like I’m asking for pity.  So, having said that, here are some things you can do that WILL help.  ūüôā

1) Don’t just ask how I am, REALLY ask specific questions.
Most people will not just blurt out their woes automatically. You have to dig a little.  They have to feel safe talking to you about it and they have to feel like you care enough to dig.  If someone doesn’t dig, I don’t talk, because I assume that means they don’t REALLY want to hear it.  Asking more relevant questions helps, because it goes beyond the canned niceties of “How are you?”

2) Think of ways to help, ask what the person needs, and follow through.
hormone17So many friends have said to me, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do!” to which I always, ALWAYS respond, “No, thank you though!”  It’s a sweet sentiment and I’ve said it myself to others. But it’s often hollow. What helps more is thinking outside of the box.  I have a wonderful friend that always thinks of what would help, logistically.  He asks me if I need a ride to the doctor. He asks if he can go to the grocery for me. He asks if he can pick up meds or bring me takeout. It’s awesome (shout-out Manu!  You da best!). I might still say no, but I’m more like to say, “You know what?  That really WOULD help.  Thank you.”

3) Be there.  Be available. Answer the phone. Stick with plans.
This is the biggest one for me.  Be there.  Just be there.  I rarely reach out, but when I do, reach back.  It’s what John Gottman calls “bids.”  If I call you on a random Tuesday and I don’t normally do so, that’s probably me reaching out.  If you can’t answer, call back when you can.  Send a text, shoot a fb message. My phone call is a “bid” for a personal connection. When you don’t respond in any way, you’re breaking that connection.  And when one is already feeling sad or lost or vulnerable, it can be even more hurtful than normal. The tiniest connection or checking in can help.  It makes one feel loved. If you makehormone18 plans, stick with them (if at all possible…I DO realize that sometimes things come up that we can’t control).  If you want to really help, simply make the other person know that they can turn to you, lean on you. Don’t make them hunt you down. Don’t allow them to call you 7 times without returning their call. That’s not how you treat someone you care about.  And it’s incredibly isolating for the person reaching out.  And hey – this doesn’t just go for friends…it stands with family (and a personal thank you and mahalo to my Aunt Sandy and my Aunt Cathy for reaching out AND back with kindness and love!) and lovers, also.  This article talks about relationship bids and how important it is that they’re met.  

What’s been shocking to me throughout all of this health stuff is who HAS shown up.  I remember my Mother talking about this when she was really ill. She was sort of perplexed by the response she got.  She had friends and coworkers that never checked on her, never stopped by, never called her when she was ill…some of these people were the ones she thought would be MOST there for her.  Then there are the surprises…the people you may not consider close friends or family that shock you by checking on you, sending you kind notes and texts and messages.  Those people are gifts.  Revel in them.  Lean on THEM, if you have to.  I have a friend that I’ve known for…damn, almost 20 years.  We were never CLOSE, really. We went to high school together and I always really liked her, but we just weren’t super tight.  We became closer friends, if that’s possible, on facebook.  We formed a real connection and she has been such a sweet source of kindness to me (shout out Jennifer Teague!!!  :P). She somehow remembers my appointments and treatments, texts me, and sends me encouraging messages.  It does NOT go unnoticed, Jennifer.  It’s those short little “check-ins” that take about 3 minutes that seriously mean a lot.  So if you’re searching for how to support someone in your life better, I hope this bitchfest blog helps you a little.

4) Apologize, and be better.
If, like me, you’re a disaster of a human being sometimes and you f*ck up and realize you’ve been a terrible self-absorbed ass of a friend, apologize.  Sincerely apologize.  Suck it up, call the person you’ve wrongly or unintentionally ignored, and tell them so.  And then make an effort to do better.hormone19 Because honestly, unless an apology comes with a change in behavior, it’s worthless.  It’s lip service.  For some reason, it’s very difficult for some people to admit when they’re wrong. Don’t be one of those people. We’re all wrong sometimes.  Hell, I’m wrong about 70% of the time, about everything. But at least I’ve learned to recognize it and apologize for it.  It took me about 33 years to learn that. You should learn it faster, because it will greatly improve your life and relationships.  And I’m historically a very slow learner.  ūüėõ

Obviously, these things can be applied to other difficult illnesses or stressors in life.  Maybe you’re really sick with Lyme, or SIBO, or going through a really intense bout of depression.  Maybe you’re grieving over the loss of a loved one or mending a broken heart…the same principles still apply.  It’s been a difficult health year, but I know that in so many respects I’ve been super fortunate. And I am oh-so-thankful for the help and love I’ve received from certain people in my life.  More thankful than I can ever express.  

Onto a SIBO report!  Several people recently have asked what I’m doing to keep my SIBO at bay.  This is important, because once you’ve beaten back the SIBO dragon, you wanna keep that little bastard away.  I’m coming up on 6.5 months SIBO free. So, because the rest of this blog has been about lists, I’ll just list what I do to help keep those festering, disgusting bacteria away.

I try to adhere (with some failings here and there) to the Fasthormone11 Tract Diet about 80% of the time.  I generally allow about 2-3 “cheats” a week now and handle that without trouble.  If I cheat more than that, I start to develop symptoms like bloating, a rash (from gluten), or potty problems. While I am able to tolerate soooo much more food than I used to, I know I need to be cautious about diet for a long time to come, maybe even forever.  (Sorry, I know you were hoping for something else!)

A “maintenance” dose of herbals one week a month:
This is something my ND and I conjured up and it seems to be working so far. Every 3 weeks or so, I take Neem, Oregano (ADP), and Berberine for 1 week. This is just to stave off any bacterial overgrowth happening.  You can’t stay on these pills for long lengths of time, so intermittently  taking them has a strong effect.

3) Exercise:
hormone12I know, I know…you don’t feel good and don’t want to and you are tired of me harping on about it.  But do it anyway, if possible.  Exercise not only helps motility, it improves mood and circulation and a whole myriad of things that are wonderful for SIBO.  Even after my surgery, I was walking up to 6 miles a day. If you can only do a short walk, do that walk.  If you can run only 1 mile, enjoy that mile. Light yoga, weights, biking, swimming, whatever tickles your fancy. Just MOVE.

4) Acupuncture to stimulate the Illeocecal Valve:
I’ve kinnnda been slacking on this lately because of the vitamin c treatments. I’m already at the doctor like 6 hours a week, but once I finish my treatments, I will resume this. My ND thinks I have some IC Valve dysfunction, so I believe this can be really helpful.  She (and I) still do some ICV massage (as detailed on my SIBO Guide page under “videos”) as well.

5) Supplements:

As detailed also on my SIBO Guide page, I am still taking my supplements daily for maintenance and healing.  I’ve recently added a “Happy Hormone” supplement to help curtail my raging nuttiness, but I haven’t been on it long enough to review it yet.

6) Still digging deep to understand my body and the connection of SIBO to other things:
I firmly believe that SIBO is NOT the issue, for pretty much everyone. SIBO is a symptom of something else going wrong. It’s the effect, not the cause.  It’s super important to isolate what the cause(s) are for your individual case.  I am still researching and learning about the mind/body/gut connection.  I did genetic testing and have spent a lot of timehormone14 doing blood tests, stool tests, and endless hours reading about this stuff. To be fair, you don’t have to go THAT overboard (I am an all-or-nothing kinda lady) but working with a good doc to learn why you got SIBO in the first place is key, key KEY! So many seem to think that if they get rid of SIBO, all will be well.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It will ONLY if you have discovered the underlying culprit.  And if you remain dedicated and diligent in treating it and other issues.  Not what you wanted to hear? I know. But honesty is the name of the game on this blog. So uncover your ears and open your eyes and get to work.  ūüėõ

Don’t you just LOVE how I boss you around? Sorry about that. I get on my little bloggy high horse sometimes.  But I hope something I’ve written about today has resonated with you and helped in some small way.  We’re all a work in progress, most especially this girl, and I am super grateful to you guys for doing the work WITH me.  It feels a little less lonely. Tomorrow is a Monday, so chin up, set your jaw in a stubborn fashion, and get to work getting better and healthier. You can do it, and do it with sass and attitude.  ‚̧

The one that’s been “there” for me the most. ūüôā


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Nope, I didn’t decide to get cancer and disappear on you. I know it seemed I like I dropped the c-bomb and then abandoned my bloggy ship, but really I’ve just had a lot going on. I did recently update the Recipe Page with several new goodies, so if you haven’t moseyed on over thurrrr yet, ya should. I spend quite a bit of time and effort trying to find recipes that are easy, yummy, made with few ingredients, and SIBO-friendly. So get yer ass over there and get to cookin’! ¬†If you’re stopping by my blog to learn about SIBO, try my SIBO Guide for tons of info that I’ve found helpful (as well as a list of doctors that might be in your area).

A lot has been happenin’ in my world! ¬†First, the most fun and exciting thing, my husband Joe and I just recently got back from a trip to Taiwan!!! ¬†Before I started talking about my intestines, this was mostly a life/travel blog. ¬†So of course I have to talk about my trip at least a little bit! ¬†Living in Hawai’i makes travel a little more difficult. ¬†Hawai’i is quite literally¬†
the most isolated land
mass on earth. ¬†That makes it both time consuming to travel (can’t just jump in a car or on a plane and easily be somewhere in a few hours) and expensive. But Joe and I both LOVE to travel, so we’ve made it a priority. ¬†This is our 4thmoleblog country in the past year. Traveling is the greatest thing we have in common. For those of you that don’t know my husband, he is the stereotypical engineer: introspective, quiet, intelligent, and logical. ¬†I, on the other hand, am talkative, goofy, friendly, and emotional. AND wildly intelligent also, OBVI. We don’t have a ton in common as far as interests. ¬†But as long as we’ve been together (12 years Nov. 1st!), we’ve traveled well together. ¬†It always manages to solidify us as a couple. ¬†It renews us somehow. ¬†And after a hard health year, it was just what we needed.

Taiwan is a super interesting little country. ¬†I think it may be one of the most unique places we’ve ever traveled. ¬†Our plan was to partake in a LOT of outdoor activities: a 2-3 day mountain trek, biking (Taiwan is amazing and safe for bikers…there is literally a bike trail that goes around the ENTIRE country!) and possibly getting scuba certified. ¬†But alas, the karmic gods dropped the hammer on us, once again. ¬†It seems every time we go to Asia, the typhoons have a field day. ¬†As soon as we landed, we heard that a typhoon was moving up through the country from the Philippines. ¬†We had decided to move along the East side of the island, because it is more rural and mountainous and most unlike Hawai’i…but when we heard of the crazy


Sitting in the rain, pissed.

weather fast approaching, we had to rethink our options. ¬†We headed to a little cafe in the pouring rain, got coffee, and sat down to discuss what we should do. ¬†We were bummed. ¬†I suggested we chuck the entire trip. ¬†I looked up flights to Singapore and they were cheap and it was sunny. ¬†We ALMOST did it. ¬†But Joe talked me into rerouting our trip back through Taipei and traveling along the West side of the island instead. ¬†The West side is far more populated and not quite what we had in mind, and this meant that most of our outdoor excursions were not going to happen. ¬†It took us about a half day to get over it and let our original plan go. We hopped on a train and tried to chase the sun. ¬†It still worked out pretty well. ¬†ūüôā

I’m having a difficult time summarizing our time in Taiwan succinctly, so I am abandoning succinct. ūüėõ ¬†We arrived in Taipei at 6am, hopped on a bus, and went on the great hotel search. ¬†I had blindly booked a hotel (not knowing anything about this GIGANTIC city of 7 million), and we had some moleblog2trouble finding it. We had both only brought backpacks for the trip, which turned out to be brilliant because of all of the traveling we did while there. We had a funny introduction to this country. Being typical spoiled American assholes, we stopped several cabs to see if they could take us to our hotel. ¬†I only had the hotel name in English (brilliant, right?) so none of the cab drivers could read it. ¬†This is the first time that I’ve not prepared properly for traveling. ¬†I usually spend at least a few weeks learning phrases and words in whatever languagemoleblog3 is prominent for that country, but with all of the crazy health stuff happening beforehand, I just…didn’t. ¬†I knew “hello”, “thank you”, and “how much?” in Mandarin. That doesn’t get you very far with a cab driver. We were given a map in Chinese by a policeman, but trying to read the Chinese characters and match them up to the street signs was downright hilarious. ¬†I felt like we were on the¬†Amazing Race. ¬†And we would have lost.

We were really cracking up at our idiocy. ¬†I finally managed to convey, through wild charades, what street we were searching for to a Taiwanese shop worker. ¬†She took me by the hand and walked me all of the way to the street. The Taiwanese are EXTREMELY kind and helpful. ¬†They will seriously bend over backwards to assist you. It’s lovely. ¬†We threw our packs in our room and went out to explore Taipei.

moleblog4The city is, like I mentioned, huge. ¬†It’s a whirlwind of activity. ¬†Scooters are the main form of transportation and on the bigger streets, you can barely talk because of the loud hum of scooters buzzing about. ¬†We “city hiked” (as Joe calls it) for hours, just taking in our surroundings. ¬†We often don’t have a master plan when we visit somewhere new. ¬†We kind of let fate guide us.moleblog5 We saw some AMAZING temples and an older Taiwanese man painted a sign for us to use in prayer. ¬†It says, “Love.” ¬†ūüôā ¬†As it so happens, good ole fate guided us to “Modern Toilet” a restaurant where you eat out of giant toilet bowls. ¬†It was the perfect introduction to this weird little Asian country. ¬†We got a BIG kick out of it, and it seemed appropriate, given all of my digestive issues this year. ¬†You could only find this kind of awesome strangeness in Asia.


The next day, a very kind friend that lives in Taipei, Allen, offered to drive us to a little town called Jiufen. ¬†It’s built right into the side of a mountain,moleblog8 overlooking the ocean. It’s GORGEOUS. We booked an adorable B&B there with sweeping ocean views. Jiufen has a great market on Old Street that we spent hours wandering through. We ate about every 5 feet. ¬†Eating in Taiwan was kind of hilarious. Because nothing was ever in English, and because we don’t read a bit of Mandarin, we would often


The only thing we understood. Hahaha

end up just pointing to something on a menu and saying, “this” not knowing what the hell we were going to receive. ¬†We just hoped for beef or chicken, but never really knew. ¬†That was kind of difficult for me. ¬†I will try just about ANYTHING, but I at least like to know what I’m shoving in my mouth. However, when it’s your only option, it’s your only option! ¬†The SIBO diet was OUT the window, completely. ¬†There was really no choice. ¬†When I could, I pointed to someone’s rice nearby and tried hard to stick to rice andmoleblog9 meat (something pretty easy to come by in Asia, thankfully). My ND had instructed me to bring Berberine on the trip to take every day, as it is an anti-microbial, to help combat possible food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea. After the crazy nasty parasite I picked up in the Philippines, I was a little worried about getting sick,but we both did great! In other fun SIBO news, I reintroduced eggs while on my trip, basically out of necessity. ¬†I kept accidentally ordering dishes with eggs. ¬†I’m happy to report that it went great! ¬†Eggs came up off-the-charts high for me on an allergy test about 10 months ago, so I totally cut them out of my diet this year. ¬†But I was hoping to try them again soon, because an eggless life is surprisingly more difficult than one would think! ¬†They’re in everything! ¬†It’s the little (egg) things, ya know? ¬†

moleblog10Later that day we hopped on a train to Shifen, a little town with big personality. We ate even more there (seriously…sooo much food), and let a lantern go in honor of our relationship. Chinese Lanterns can represent many things: a wish, a blessing, or the letting go of something. ¬†I loved it. ¬†The lanterns are huge and look so magical as they float up through the sky. ¬†We had fun painting ours and on one side wrote “Two drifters, off to see the world…” and on the opposite side continued, “…there’s such a lot ofmoleblog11 world to see” – from the song¬†Moonriver (our song) and then on the other side we wrote, “If we ever leave a legacy, it’s that we loved each other well” – also from a song (Indigo Girls) and then “Loving Kindness Compassion” and “May God bless our union as well as our individuality” on the last side. ¬†We let it fly up into the air until it was a tiny spec, taking all of our hopes and prayers with it.

moleblog12We went back to Jiufen that night and wandered around Old Street some more, which at night was all lit up with beautiful red lanterns.  We had tea at a beautiful old tea house, overlooking the gorgeous scenery.  All day long we kept talking about how lucky and privileged we are to be ablemoleblog13 to see so many different places and cultures.  I believe traveling is one of the greatest teachers. It puts our ego in check, showing us how small we really are in the world, and it brings perspective to the trials and tribulations we think are SO big in our own lives, as we see how others live, how others suffer, and how others muster up incredible resilience in the face of great adversity.



Rice fields!!!

The next day we headed by train (Taiwan makes it SUPER easy to get around with their kickass train system) to Jiaoxi, to hit up some hot springs. ¬†We passed through beautiful scenery along the coast of rice fields and mountains. We made a quick stop in Dali to see the jade temples (temples errrrrywhere! They’re so ornate and
amazing! And unlike the temples of China, they are perfectly preserved)¬†where an old Taiwanese woman taught me moleblog16how to properly show benevolence and say a prayer. ¬†By the time we arrived in Jiaoxi, it was pouring rain and we were soaked and tired and grumpy. We came across a beautiful hotel that had hot springs on site and even had the hot springs pumped right into your very own bath! I told the clerk, “Please give me the biggest tub in the place” and BOY did she comply! ¬†ūüėõ ¬†This was our big moleblog17“splurge” as far as hotels go, which is funny because this amazing 5-star hotel was only around $69 a night – the price of a 2 star, kinda crappy hotel in the states. ¬†We LOVED the hot springs! ¬†They had both fully nude (separated by gender of course) and co-ed. ¬†That night we tried out the co-ed and stayed in as long as we could stand it.

The next day we were in a pickle (that may be the first time I’ve ever used that utterly ridiculous phrase). ¬†This is the day that we realized the typhoon moleblog19was DEFINITELY coming for us, and we needed to make some decisions. We spent the morning eating delicious Taiwanese pastries and getting “pedicures” courtesy of little creepy fish that eat away the dead skin on your feet while trying to make decisions about the rest of our trip. We decided to hop on another train and head to the famed Taroko Gorge, which was supposed to be beautiful. ¬†We wanted to do at least ONE outdoor


Fish nibbling on your feet tickles!

thing on our list, even if it poured rain the entire time. Several hours later we exited the train and got to hike through the gorge. Lucky for us, the weather held out¬†just¬†long enough to enjoy the gorgeous scenery! I’ve never seen water that color before, it was breathtaking. ¬†To make it back to the visitor’s center in time (where we had left our packs) I had to run the 2 mile trail back. ¬†Joe was like, “good luck!” – he is NOT a runner, so it was up to me. ¬†I made it there just as they were about to lock the doors and they cheered me on as they saw me rounding the corner in a dead sprint. ūüôā


Since we were re-routing back through Taipei to go down the other side of the island, we decided to stop back in Jiaoxi to stay at the same amazing hotel. This time, we went for the all-nude hot springs. ¬†My experience was totally normal, in fact it was mostly empty. ¬†But Joe…ohhhhh Joe. ¬†He stripped down and walked out in what God gave him and came face-to-face with 4 other men that were…wearing swim trunks. ¬†He turned right back around. Hahahahahaha! Don’t have any pictures of that one, but I sure wish I had a pic of his face when we first walked out. ¬†

The next day was mainly a travel day, as we rode trains all of the way down to Chinghua, and a bus to a little town (little for Taiwan, anyway) called moleblog22Lukang. We wanted something small and quirky, and Lukang delivered. ¬†I’d booked a B&B online and the proprietress was AMAZING. ¬†She was talkative and hilarious and told us tons of stories about the history of the town, as well as drawing us a very detailed map of the street food vendors and indicating which had the best buns, noodles, and desserts. ¬†We loved her. ¬†The B&B was crazy immaculate and adorable. ¬†We decided to stay for two full days to explore the area.

We biked and walked all around the town for the next few days. ¬†Wemoleblog23 explored quirky little places like the “tiniest street in Taiwan” called “Touching Breast Alley” (ooh la la) because if you stand with your back to each wall you will touch breasts (um, apparently people had bigger breastsmoleblog25 than I several hundred years ago). ¬†ūüėõ Being in a smaller area was interesting because Joe and I garnered a LOT of attention. ¬†In the cities we would sometimes get stared at or have people trying not-so-conspicuously to take our picture, but in Lukang they were blatant about it. Teenage girls would run up to us, all giggles and smiles, and want to take pictures with us. We couldn’t really wander around unnoticed. It was a trip. We saw more incredible temples, many that were crazy old and hauntingly beautiful. ¬†We took a day trip to Changhua to see the famed Changhua Buddha and temple, which was truly impressive and ¬†peaceful. We found ourselves an adorable little cafe/wine bar and spent the afternoon day drankin’ and people watching.


Then it was time to return to Taipei, where we had a lot to do in just a few moleblog27days. FIRST on the list was to try out a cat cafe. I mean duh. For those of you that don’t know, cat cafes originated in Taiwan. A cat cafe is exactly what it sounds like…a cafe with cats. Cat themes, and REAL LIVE cats. They’ve become wildly popular in Japan but when I heard they originated in Taiwan, I HAD to do it. ¬†I mean, I love cats! ¬†And I love coffee! And yeah it’s a wee bit weird to combine the two but it’s also quirky and awesome. ¬†So we did a little research


Loved this grumpy kitty!

to find the best one and off we went. OH MY GOD it did not disappoint. There were 16 cats and 2 dogs in the cafe. ¬†The owners give you “kitty treats” to feed to the kitties and they just play and crawl all around while you sip your latte. ¬†So if you’re weird about animals and food, this isn’t for you. ¬†I will say though, the place was immaculate. ¬†It didn’t smell, it was hair-free, and super clean. ¬†And shockingly, the coffee was super delicious. We had a whale of a time. ¬†Ahem, I mean a CAT of a time. ¬†(Yeah, I went there)

I then decided that since I was in Taiwan and so close to all of these incredible doctors of ancient Chinese medicine, I should really find a way to see one. ¬†I contacted my friend and asked if he knew an herbalist that spoke English. ¬†He sent me the address of one and off we went. ¬†It was a HILARIOUS experience. ¬†I walk in and everyone in the office let out a, “Oooooohhhh” and immediately started whispering. ¬†But they all very kindly greeted me with shouts of “Ni hao!” I think they were just shocked to see a blonde-haired white American in their doctor’s office. ¬†I get called in to meet the doctor and he doesn’t speak a WORD of English, not even hello. Not that I expected him to (I mean, we ARE in a foreign country) but I had to think quickly. Thankfully I had had the foresight to google translate all of my many ailments from English to Chinese characters and had taken screen shots of them on my phone. So I could at least tell him that I had ovarian cancer, SIBO, Hashimoto’s, and PCOS (I left out the others). He would speak to me in Chinese and I would nod my head like I understood like a total moron, then I would speak English and he would do the same. Neither of us understood a single f*cking word the other was saying. ¬†After I showed him the translation for SIBO though, he said, “Ah! ¬†Poo poo!!!!” and pointed to his butt. ¬†I laughed so hard I nearly fell off the chair. ¬†“Hao,” I said (yes), “Poo poo.” ¬†It was the only time we understood each other. ¬†He had his nurse prepare some herbal concoction for me and sent me on my way. ¬†There’s no telling what he gave me. ¬†I think it was of the I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-you’re-saying-so-here’s-some-shit-to-help-now-get-out variety. ¬†ūüėõ ¬†The whole thing was certainly an experience and only cost around $7, so it was totally worth it.

moleblog29The rest of the day was spent at Taipei 101 and the famed “snake alley” night market, where you can get a bowl of snake soup. ¬†It was crazy to see all of these restaurants with GIANT snakes sitting out front, with rat cages right next to them for feeding time. ¬†Snake soup is supposed to increase male virility, but Joe was having NONE of it. ¬†Haha!


We decided to get massages (pronounced by locals to us as “massage-eeee!”) because they are so popular and cheap in Taiwan. ¬†We opted for the 40moleblog31 minute leg and foot massage with a 20 minute back massage included. ¬†Let me just say that they do massages differently in Taiwan. ¬†They basically beat the hell outta ya. We groaned and winced and carried on so much that our two masseuses kept exchanging glances like, “Sheesh these Americans are wusses!”



My face fortune! ūüôā

And suddenly, it was our last full day. ¬†We spent the day exploring more of the city and went to a Taiwanese fortune teller, which I had read was an extremely popular thing to do for locals. We went to the “Street of Fortune Telling” which is a whole underground row of fortune tellers. We were told that this was the only place they would speak English. ¬†They read our palms and faces and I have to say, were pretty dead-on. ¬†The fortune teller NAILED Joe, telling him that he was “science-minded” and “too caught up in¬†his own thoughts” and “not very good at the real talk” when it comes to talking with his family. ¬†She told him he needed to be more honest about his emotions with me and his family. When she read his face, she noted that his ears showed that he was having liver trouble and that he needed to get that checked (fascinating) and that though he would always make a verymoleblog33 strong living financially, he never needed to own his own business or to be number one in his company. ¬†She then turned to me and when she read my face she noted that my bottom lip was much larger than my upper lip. In China, apparently the upper lip represents the male and the lower lip represents the female, so she noted that my personality was quite dominant. Hahahahahahaha. ¬†Ya think? She told me I should be less picky with Joe and be patient with him because he cannot communicate like others. ¬†We both cracked up at this because this is by FAR our biggest struggle. ¬†The whole thing was very fun and interesting.

moleblog37That night we checked out the famed Shilin night market but unfortunately, it was POURING rain. ¬†And I mean monsoon-style. We tried to stick it out but we only lasted a few hours. There was soooo much good food there, though! ¬†I wanted to shop because it seemed like the clothes shopping was cheap and fabulous but it was too difficult with the rain onslaught. ¬†We eventually returned back to our hotel wet and weary. ¬†The next day we reluctantly boarded a plane back to Hawai’i nei. ¬†It wasn’t the trip we had in mind, but it was still amazing and fascinating and fun. ¬†I think we needed some time to just BE. Without doctors and the daily grind. It was refreshing. ¬†Here’s a brief slideshow of some of the rest of our travels, if you’re interested. ¬†ūüôā

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So now that I’ve given you (a probably totally unwanted) play-by-play of my trip, we’ll get into other business. ¬†The last time we chatted (yes, I like to pretend like I’m chatting with each of you individually, over a cup of coffee or glass o’booze, so just go with it…) I had just learned that my biopsy after surgery had come back malignant for Granulosa Cell Carcinoma, aka ovarian cancer. While NO ONE – no matter how zen or chill or optimistic they are – can say they don’t react at all to hearing the dreaded c-word, I honestly thinkmoleblog36 I’ve handled it rather swimmingly. Maybe that’s because I learned that I’m in the earliest stage (stage 1A) or because I sought the opinion of another gyno-oncologist that concurred I don’t need much further treatment (right now), or maybe it’s because I’m a total f*cking moron. But in any case, it hasn’t yet had its desired cancer-y effect (I imagine that cancer is sort of the school bully…wanting you to feel frightened and belittled and powerless). I know how lucky I am, BELIEVE me. Not only did I watch my Mother die at a young age from lung cancer, but I am also a part of a few cancer groups online in an effort to gain some insight into this rare tumor. There are many VERY ill people in those groups, fighting for their lives with bravery and style and sass. I’m pretty quiet in these groups. I feel like the girl that joins weight watchers to lose 5 lbs…errrrbody hates that bitch. ūüėõ

I’ve learned a lot from those two groups, however. Not even so much about cancer (though that too!) but about attitude. I hesitate on how to write about this, because I fear it will come across as belittling or mean, and that is not at ALL my intention. I’ve struggled with how to put it into words without being offensive. I hope most of my readers know that what I’m about to say comes from a place of love and care. But if you don’t know me well or haven’t been following me, please take heart in the fact that I genuinely care about people. I’m a social worker and a bleeding heart. But also, I’m a bit of an ass. How can moleblog39those coexist you might wonder? They do, trust me. What I mean is, I will do anything for anyone. I will bend over backwards to help you and I will do it joyfully and with love. But, I’m also painfully blunt, tactless, and honest (to a fault, even) and will always give ya the real talk. Sometimes this real talky-talk doesn’t sit well with others. Sometimes we fight hard against things we don’t want to hear. Even if we need to hear them. Even if they make make the deliverer an ass. I also say I’m an ass because I’m painfully pessimistic. I’ve somehow managed to snow some of you into thinking I’m an optimist. Mwahahahahaha. Nope. I’m silly and goofy and use humor a lot, because I come from a massively funny family, but I’m totally a pessimistic assface about my own life. It’s truly just a part of who I am. I used to be pretty ashamed of this part of myself, but as I came into my 30s, I began to embrace it. I attribute this greatly to Barbara Ehrenreich’s work on toxic positivity. Have you ever read her work? She’s AMAZING. she’s the cat’s meow or the cat’s pajamas or the cat’s hiss or whatever. She talks about our western obsession (and it is indeed an obsession) with positivity. When people tell us bad news, we chirp something annoying to them about silver linings and find some ridiculously minuscule thing for them to be glad of. When someone gets ill we tell them¬†to “think positive!” Or “stay positive!”moleblog40 When someone goes through something horrific we solemnly and tritely tell them “everything happens for a reason” in a hollow effort to console. But all of these well-meaning endeavors only succeed in silencing the person suffering. It doesn’t enable them the space to grieve, to be upset, to be angry or hurt. It makes them feel guilty for not being “positive” and forces them to try to slap on a fake smile just to please others. I think this is brutally unfair and causes the masking of feelings that lead to isolation and depression. Ehrenreich writes about this even in relation to her own breast cancer experience:

But, despite all the helpful information, the more fellow victims I discovered and read, the greater my sense of isolation grew. No one among the bloggers and book writers seemed to share my sense of outrage over the disease and the available treatments. What¬†causes it and why is it so common, especially in industrialised societies? Why don’t we have treatments that distinguish between different forms of breast cancer or between cancer cells and normal dividing cells? In the mainstream of breast cancer culture, there is very little anger, no mention of possible environmental causes, and few comments about the fact that, in all but the more advanced, metastasised cases, it is the “treatments”, not the disease, that cause the immediate illness and pain. In fact, the overall tone is almost universally upbeat. The Breast Friends website, for example, features a series of inspirational quotes: “Don’t cry over anything that can’t cry over you”; “When life hands out lemons, squeeze out a smile”; “Don’t wait for your ship to come in‚Ķ swim out to meet it,” and much more of that ilk. In some cases cancer¬†is even touted as a “gift”, deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude.

moleblog35There is sooo much literature that focuses on positivity and cancer. This inevitably, she discusses, sets the patient up for failure. This places¬†the onus and responsibility on the patient, instead of on the fact that a disease is literally attacking their body, and that life is sometimes, all too often, unfair. ¬†They might stay crazy positive throughout and still aren’t able to get well, thereby feeling as if they have failed despite their undying devotion to positivity. This may make them feel guilty, like they are letting down friends and family, or suffering further because they cannot seem to put on a happy face and fight the cancer demon with a smile. ¬†Of course, the other option is that they remain positive and ARE able to successfully heal, and this is the tiny group we’re always shoving down cancer patients’ throats.

Barbara’s work (I like to pretend we’re on a first name basis and that we’d be buddies) discusses how detrimental this guise of positivity can be…so detrimental it can be toxic. **NOTE: I think it’s really important here to distinguish the difference between positivity and a sense of humor. ¬†Many use humor to cope (including myself, obviously) and I think it’s often mistaken as positivity. ¬†I HUGELY promote the use of humor as both a relief from the horrible things we must endure and as a coping mechanism.** ¬†I wrote a large paper in grad school on positive toxicity and women, as I think women are especially susceptible to this concept of toxic positivity. Women are often called emotional, irrational, or moody and because of these labels, I think we feel a real need to gloss over our emotions with a sunshine-y demeanor. Always careful not to seem crass or wildly unhinged, we believe that by presenting a positive front, we may appear more palatable to others. Because women are a lot about presentation, right? We almost have to be, because wemoleblog41 are so harshly judged on presentation. We are also more susceptible because of our desire (as well as the pressure placed upon us) to be perfect. While men too sometimes struggle with issues of perfectionism, I believe the burden of perfectionism falls more heavily on women. We must be the perfect friend, mother, wife, and sister, while also being kind but still with an edge, intelligent but not overly powerful, humble but confident, and strong but not threatening; all while maintaining a slim figure and being endlessly stylish and endlessly young. It’s. EXHAUSTING. Studies show that women still do the majority of child-rearing and housework while also working full time. And on top of all of that shit, we have to be SUNSHINEY too? Um no. Can I get a HELL NAH?!?!

My point is, cancer sucks. ¬†I probably could have just written that, but whatever. ¬†I’m long-winded.¬†My cancer is small and well-contained for now, but I watched my Mother struggle profoundly. ¬†I witnessed round after round of god-awful chemotherapy. I watched her lose her hair and her dignity (her appearance was soooo important to her). ¬†I watched my always-plump, jolly Momma turn painfully frail and thin with hollowed eyes and


My Mommy. ūüôā

dark circles. ¬†I watched as the pain pills affected her so terribly she couldn’t tell you what day it was. ¬†I watched her cry as I cleaned her house, because she could barely walk to the bathroom, let alone clean or bend or move about. ¬†I watched her slowly come to terms with her death and how this meant saying goodbye to 4 young daughters that she would never know as true adults. Cancer SUCKS, and pretending it doesn’t isn’t a service, it’s a disservice to those fighting and struggling. And as I am coming up on the 11 year anniversary of my Mom’s death (Nov. 5th), I want to honor her by writing this and putting it out into the universe…I’m sorry. ¬†I’m sorry I didn’t understand all of this when she was ill. I’m sorry I was so self-absorbed and young and stupid that all I concentrated on at the time was how hard her illness and death would be for ME. ¬†I’m sorry I didn’t give her the proper space to grieve, to feel exhausted, to express how truly terrified she was. I¬†feel terrible about that to this day. ¬†I wish I could tell her how sorry I am and how much I regret not allowing her to speak freely about how she was feeling. It’s easier for everyone else if you are ultra-positive, right? ¬†It’s easier for doctors and nurses and friends and family but not so easy or fair for the person that is actually sick. ¬†As my ole buddy and kindred angry spirit Barb writes:

Breast cancer, I can now report, did not make me prettier or stronger, more moleblog43feminine or spiritual. What it gave me, if you want to call this a “gift”, was a very personal, agonising encounter with an ideological force in American culture that I had not been aware of before ‚Äď one that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune and blame only ourselves for our fate.

I highly encourage you to read her book, Bright-sided, or read this paper,¬†Smile, You’ve Got Cancer!¬†or watch (one of many!) her Ted Talk, Smile or Die.

The funny thing is, these groups HAVE given me something in the way of positivity. ¬†They have given me perspective. ¬†This is, by the way, the part that I fear will be offensive. ¬†So please kindly remove your easily-pissed-off hat, and just try to go with me and know that I only mean this in the most loving, “real-talk” kinda way. ¬†It’s really interesting to oscillate between the SIBO groups and the cancer groups. ¬†Sometimes the posts on my facebook feed will be one right after the other, and the difference is almost startling. ¬†SIBO blows, don’t get me wrong. Don’t even get me started on how much it can suck. ¬†It can be isolating, painful, disgusting, embarrassing, and depressing. ¬†I KNOW. ¬†But, it’s not cancer. It’s not death. ¬†It’s not losing your hair and having constant mouth sores and pain so severe you cannot sleep or move (at least for 98% of us SIBO sufferers, anyway). It’s not facing your own mortality. It’s not looking at your children and knowing you’ll never see them grow up or have babies or get married. ¬†A few times I’ve seen people in the SIBO group compare SIBO to cancer and I have to say that I take offense to that. ¬†They’re not comparable. Stop doing that for the love of God. ¬†Please. I almost don’t even care if that one statement offends you. ¬†If that offends you, you have some serious soul-searching to do around empathy and compassion and reality.

I feel the need to say that I know some in the SIBO group are SUPER ill. I am not talking to you…I know your life is beyond difficult right now. ¬†I also think that SIBO is likely not your biggest problem. ¬†Meaning, if you are that ill, it’s possible there is something much larger happening in conjunction with SIBO, or MANY things. ¬†Stay the course, advocate as hard as you can. ¬†You deserve health and happiness.

What I’m trying to express (probably poorly) is that¬†I’ve seen so much resilience and inspiring strength from the cancer groups. ¬†It really puts SIBO and hashimoto’s and even my own cancer into perspective, because these women are SICK, yet they use humor so fiercely and wonderfully to fight their way through this. ¬†And while I don’t want to spread the positivity fever, it does really help me with the attitude I take about¬†my own illnesses. ¬†At the same time, however, I see bits of (toxic) positivity being pushed upon people in the cancer groups on occasion. ¬†I don’t blame them, because I think it’s so pervasive, but I do want to call attention to it. ¬†Moving between the two groups is startling because the SIBO group is far darker. Obviously since I just blathered on about how toxic positivity can be in circumstances of illness I don’t expect everyone in the SIBO group to “suck it up” or pretend to be ok…but I do hope to spread some awareness about perspective. ¬†PUHlease don’t misunderstand…you¬†are allowed to feel your feelings.¬† You are allowed to be frustrated and pissed off and depressed, but it’s painfully debilitating to live in that depressive space. This isn’t a “buck-em-up” speech, but it is a call to think about how you’ve let SIBO hold you back. And it is simultaneously a call to the cancer group, to not let the happy spin of positivity that’s shoved down your throat by anyone else make you feel like you can’t be who you are and what you feel. Someone ACTUALLY posted the other day that “Sadness is a waste of time.” ¬†Wow. ¬†No. You do not get to tell people that


GROSS. Get outta here with that bullshit.

their feelings are a waste of time.  Ever. Allow yourself to be honest, allow yourself to be true to your feelings and express it to friends and family. You deserve the right to feel how you feel. It honestly kind of seems like the two groups need a good dose of the other sometimes.  I feel kind of honored to get to be in all of them, because as I stated, it really brings interpretation and perspective to my life in a really profound way that I am still figuring out.

I am not immune to either of these issues, by the way, because I am an unperfect person like yourself. ¬†I’m guilty of both allowing myself to wallow in my own depression about SIBO and of¬†chirpily pretending (maybe even to moleblog45myself) that hearing I have cancer doesn’t affect me. I have taken to my bed over SIBO and I also didn’t shed a single tear or have a single panicky moment over my cancer diagnosis. ¬†Both of those seem a little strange. ¬†In one instance, I was throwing a HUGE pity part that seems out of proportion with my illness, and in the other instance I was completely denying myself the right to feel scared and worried and freaked out. Looking back, I feel like an emotionally inept idiot. ¬†

We all have battles. ¬†I will never understand why some are burdened with mountains and others with molehills, but I believe it’s important that we don’t make mountains out of molehills, or molehills out of mountains. ¬†Don’t pretend your SIBO is cancer, and don’t pretend your cancer can be taken away with sheer positive vibes. ¬†ūüėõ I realize that it’s impossible to find perfect balance always, and that at times we will waver back and forth between being too dramatic and not dramatic enough, and that’s ok. I think the most important thing is to be authentic, but also always strive to understand your own privilege ¬†and reality in this world. ¬†‚̧

On my own cancer front, I got great news right before my trip (the day that I left) that my endometrial biopsy came back all clear, which was FANTASTIC news. ¬†I start natural chemo this week with my ND, and am hopeful and confident that I will be considered officially in remission soon. ¬†On the SIBO front, I’m doing great…the best I’ve ever been, actually. ¬†I still have some bloating issues with certain things (like wine, for example…which I keep trying to make happen because ohhhhh how I love wine!), but for the most part, the bloating is down, my weight is up, and I’m feeling energized and moleblog46healthy. ¬†I’m able to eat a really wide variety of foods that I still try to keep as low FP (fermentation potential, a la the Fast Tract Diet) as possible most of the time. ¬†After a full year of dealing with health issue after health issue, it’s nice to be able to say that. And bring ON 2016…2015 can SUCK IT. Seriously. ¬†If I could beat 2015 with a bat, I would.

I wish you all health and happiness and recovery! ¬†And until next time, here is a pic of Joe and I on Halloween. ¬†We were snails. ¬†(We are weird). ¬†ūüėõ Aloha to you all!


Ovary Farewell Tour

September 8, 2015

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I am flying through the air at 30,000 feet, thinking about my ovary. An ovary is a strange thing to think about on a thursday afternoon, flying through the air in a steel tube of impatient, head-phoned travelers trying to ignore the screaming baby. Perhaps the baby is why I keep thinking about it, as babies begin with that simple little ovary. It’s my 36th birthday today and sidebar, I had an incredibly fun beach birthday bash with friends to celebrate. ¬†It was cat-themed. ¬†Because I am a 9 year old girl. ¬†You know you have good friends when they dress up as cats for you and drink beer on the beach. ¬†ūüôā And yes, I am wearing a cat bikini. ¬†

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If you’ve never stopped by my little corner of the internet before, welcome! You can read past entries by clicking the home page and scrolling, or by clicking on “My SIBO Battle” 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 elemental diet, or my Recipe tab¬†if you want some yummy, SIBO-friendly recipes.

For 36 years I’ve given very little thought to that ovary, probably even far less than your average woman. Even as a teenager, I somehow doubted I was going to be a Mother. I was quiet about this doubt, because growing up in the South as a woman MEANT Motherhood, and wifeliness, and these things were (and still are) very tied into being a “proper” and “good” woman. I can recall someone many years ago talking about how my husband’s friend was marrying a “Good Southern girl” and what she really alluded to before and around that statement was that girl’s (open) desire to get married and start a family quickly. I remember thinking, “I will never be a ‘good Southern girl.'” And despite myself, feeling sort of shameful or sad about it…or maybe it was just the loneliness of knowing it was one more thing that made me not fit in, in the Southland. Either way, it was the beginning of a lifetime of defending my choice around Motherlessness.

Anyway…my ovary. My husband Joe and I have named it “Oscar.” I have a thing about namingconfuseduterus objects women’s names. It pisses me off. I think it’s because it’s a default of our culture to so naturally objectify women that we automatically attribute female names to objects. Things like boats, cars, hell even hurricanes, are given the pronoun of “she” and given a female-sounding name. ¬†It’s one of those seemingly small and harmless things that perhaps isn’t so harmless after all. ¬†That kind of thing fascinates me. ¬†So I name objects with boy names. I know. I am SUCH a rebel. And I think it funny to name an ovary, something so intrinsically and overtly female, “Oscar.” We named it Oscar because it is grouchy…as in, of course, Oscar the Grouch. It has become hostile and surly and needs to find a new garbage can in which to live. ¬†Yes, I just essentially called my body a garbage can, which isn’t a too-off analogy for it these days. ¬†ūüėõ

Looking pregnant when you’re not pregnant. No fun.

The last I wrote, I was celebrating the fact that I had totally kung-fu chopped SIBO and H. Pylori in the balls. I have to admit, I was READY for some celebrating. After months of a crazy strict diet, becoming a bit of a hermit, feeling ill, dealing with debilitating stomach pain, and feeling lonely because no one in my life REALLY got it…I was all too ready to reclaim my former perky, adventurous, go-get-’em self. But something was still…off. I was still having symptoms. I still had intermittent digestive issues, bloating, fatigue, and back pain. At first I just attributed it to a weakened gut. I’d blasted it with antibiotics, strong herbals and antimicrobials, hundreds of acupuncture needles and B12 shots, and denied it many delicious foods and drinks. The fact that it was pissy was understandable. But after weeks and weeks of unchanging symptoms, I knew something was still up. After being mistaken for being pregnant¬†at the grocery store AGAIN (what IS it with people at the grocery thinking I’m preggo? It seems I’m always accused of being “with child” in the same grocery store on my block, which I suppose is convenient because it allows me to slink home quickly to feel bad about myself in private. Of course this is after rubbing my belly fakely to the person that has audaciously asked when I’m due while pretending to be happy about my fake baby. I just feel like lying in that instance is a public service. No one wants to be that uncomfortable). I went back to my ND, my trusty ole girl that has been with me in this fight from the beginning and said, “What else ya got? We need to keep checking…something else is up.”

She asked when my last ultrasound had been taken. I’ve had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) for quite a long time now, but over the past few years, it seems to have gotten worse. PCOS is an unpleasant, but fairly mild illness. It ovary2causes really fun things like heavy/painful periods, spikes in hormones (especially testosterone), weight gain, acne, unwanted facial hair, and mood swings. Sounds fun huh? It basically makes you so ugly and disgusting that you don’t need birth control anymore because no one wants to touch you. I hadn’t had an ultra sound for a few years, so my doc suggested we start there. Despite my digestive issues being “resolved” (so said the tests anyway), she wondered if there might be something going wrong with mah lady bits. So, off to the gyno I go! (Never a fun sentence for a woman).

ovary3As I was getting a standard ultrasound the radiation tech was making a lot of noise. Many, “Hmmmms” and “Oh, MMmm Hmmmmms” were happening. She asked if we could do a pelvic ultrasound as well to get a better look. Why not? My body has become fodder for new explorers. Er, I mean that in a non-slutty way (the slutty way would be far more fun). While performing the pelvic, I had a LOT of pain. It was extremely uncomfortable and the incessant murmuring of the tech made me think that yup…they found something weird. My body is just chock FULL of weird shit. ¬†But alas, radiation techs are sworn to secrecy for some inexplicable reason while they make discouraging faces and probe your most private of parts.

The next day I met with my ND for the results. They found that my left ovary (Oscar) was nearly 4 times the size of my right ovary (Kanye West) and that there was a substantial growth of an indeterminable size on Oscar as well. They referred me for an MRI to get a better look at that old grouch.

A few days later, I go for the MRI. Easy peasy. Big, loud tube that screeches and clicks and clucks at you rudely. Then you’re done. The next day I again met with my ND for the results. She was very solemn this time. Serious face. Ruh roh. The growth was in fact a grapefruit-sized mass that was both hard and had fluid-filled sacks. Dammit, Oscar. She and the doc that read the MRI wanted to refer me to Oncology at the Kapiolani Women’s Center to see what my options were. Oncology is always a scary word that tends to sort of hang in the air after uttered, taunting you with its possible canceryness. But, ovary4in all honesty, I was mostly unworried. I’ve had these “female issues” my entire life and every time they find a new cyst or scary something, it turns out to be nothing. I’m young and despite my small intestine being the slow kid in class, I’m relatively healthy. I was pretty dern confident that I would see this scaryologist, and he/she would pat my head and tell me it’s “nothing” and send me on my uncancery way.

I go to see the Gyno/Oncologist. He was highly recommend by my ND, and he turned out to be really wonderful; personable, patient, and easy to talk to. ovary5He did none of the “I AM A DOCTOR AND THEREFORE GOD” stuff that has become so familiar to us SIBO folk. He told me, however, that he was quite concerned after looking at my MRI. He said he wanted to examine me. Up in the stirrups I go (again, never a fun sentence for a woman). The funny part was, I was in a teaching hospital, so there were 5 med student interns staring right at my lady junk. A few of them tried to awkwardly make conversation… “So…you live around here?” or, “isn’t parking horrible in this area?” to which I just had to reply, “Guys. You’re starting at my vagina. Let’s just skip the small talk.” They laughed and I stared at the ceiling, wishing I had the forethought to draw something funny on my pubic bone for the show.

After he examined me, he sat up, looked at me and said, “Yup. We have got to take that out. Soon.” I was surprised, really. I said, “Soooo…surgery?” and he nodded. 3 incisions, out through the belly button. Gross. The thought of pulling a tumor out through my belly button makes me wanna hurl. He told me that removing the entire ovary was ideal, in case it was cancerous (if it is, it would be safer to have removed as much as possible), but that if I was at all concerned about fertility, he would leave it. I told him that I wouldn’t be having children. He looked at me concerned, “Are you SURE? You’re only 35!” I nodded. “I’m sure.” I said. He asked again, “But what if you change your mind? Are you sure you are sure?” This is something that irks me (and I imagine any woman that chooses childlessness)…the assumption that we might “change our minds” as if we don’t understand our own wants or desires. It’s quite insulting and frustrating. If someone says, “I want children!” The answer is not automatically, “Are you SURE?!?!?! You’ll probably change your mind!!!” I looked at him in the eye and said, “Doc, have you ever been sure about something for 35 years? I have. I’m sure.” He laughed good-naturedly and said, “I haven’t ever thought about it that way. Fair enough.” I was liking this dude more and more. Besides, even if he did preserve Oscar, my PCOS is so terrible that I haven’t ovulated in over a year, making it an “almost certainty” (my gyno’s words) that I would have to go the in vitro route to conceive. I’ve always doubted I would become a Mother (but I’ve also always tried to remain open to it as well) however I certainly have never wanted it badly enough to go through THAT. I always imagined adopting orovary6 fostering if I were to parent, anyway. But I’m rambling. I think I always feel a need to explain or pander to people reading this blog that are silently judging my non-Motherly ways. I don’t know why. Ok that’s a total lie. I do know why, it’s because we still view women’s “roles” as synonymous with Motherhood. It’s still, even in these “progressive” times, strange to nearly everyone that I have not longed my whole life to be a Mother. People really have severe reactions about it, so I am almost always (because of these reactions) a little bit on the defensive about this choice, which I truly hate. I don’t want my defenses up. It seems unfair. My husband NEVER gets questions or judgmental looks or statements like, “Ohhhhh, you’ll change your mind…just you wait!” They accept his childlessness with complete approval. But if I tell someone that even though I really enjoy and like children, I just don’t think that parenthood is the path for me, they look at me like I am the¬†Antichrist¬†and immediately seem suspicious that I will¬†try to kidnap and cage their children Hanzel-and-Gretel-style.

To be perfectly clear, just because I have made this choice does not mean that I don’t respect your¬†right to have children. ¬†I love my nieces and nephews. ¬†I love my friend’s kids and love being auntie. ¬†I will jump up and down with you when you tell me you are pregnant and buy your child ridiculous gender-neutral toys (because that is what Auntie Katie does), and I will cry with you when ¬†you suffer a miscarriage or when the in vitro doesn’t work, and I will fight for your right to breastfeed in public (because boobs do not exist solely for men’s pleasure!). I will hardCORE go to bat for any Mom out there, because they do not get even a tenth of the respect they deserve. ¬†I simply would like the same respect for my chosen path. ¬†Perhaps now that Oscar is movin’ on out, this will be a built-in excuse and that disdain will turn to pity. In fact, I’m certain it will. But I refuse to be pitied. Instead I will always make it clear that I have chosen this path for numerous intelligent reasons, and that should be enough. Maybe one day it will be. My biological clock is ticking, and I really find that sound quite soothing. I’ll just let it tick. Reader, meet soapbox. Stepping down now. Damn, this thing is high…

Good God I’ll probably turn 45 and suddenly decide I’m DYING to have a freaking baby and will have to delete all of this. ¬†I’ve always been a late bloomer, after all! ¬†If anyone would get pregnant with one ovary gone and another covered in cysts, believe me…it would be me. ūüėõ¬†Anywho, we scheduled the surgery for the 8th of September, because I’ve had a fun vacay planned to Portland and Denver for awhile. I’ve taken to calling it my #ovaryfarewellltour. Ya know, show him the sights


#ovaryfarewelltour in full effect in PDX!

before he leaves the womb. The oncologist believes that the residual bloating I’ve been experiencing (despite clearing SIBO and pylori) is due to the growth. He said that because of its size, it could be causing other issues as well, as it is pressing against my transverse colon and bladder. This COULD explain so much! I inquired about the possibilities of cancer and he simply said he didn’t know, and we wouldn’t know until he got in there. It’s strange but again, I am weirdly not worried. I feel like it’s silly to waste time worrying and freaking over something that very well may be benign. I’ve spent enough time this year hyper-focused and obsessed with my health and my future. I just don’t wanna do it anymore. Whatever comes I’ll handle it. Er, I hope. But just in case, don’t judge me if my next entry is a self-pitying mass of fear and overwhelming anxiety. ūüėõ

So now, I have to get into the next thing, which has been HUGE for me! H-U-G-E I tell ya!  I posted about it in the SIBO forum but I have to mention it again. Some of you have heard me talk about the Illeocecal Valve. Check out this nifty little blurb about it from this website:

“Between the small intestine and the large intestine is a sphincter-type valve called the Ileocecal Valve (ICV). The purpose of this valve is to ‚Äúprevent backflow‚ÄĚ from the Large Intestine, once any material leaves the Small Intestine. Not all the contents entering the digestive tube are going to be absorbed as food. In fact, much of what is ingested and processed continues to flow through the tube for eventual elimination. At the point where the small intestine ends, it sends its watery waste products into the large intestine.

IF things ‚Äúare normal‚ÄĚ the ileocecal valve:

– Remains closed most of the time.
– Opens briefly to let the contents of the small intestine exit.
– Closes again quickly to prevent any materials in the large intestine from leaking back.


This very important anatomical structure does an unheralded job. The Ileocecal Valve is such a major cause of digestive symptoms for people that the problem has reached epidemic proportions; yet, outside the chiropractic profession, its function and importance are practically unknown. Problems with an open ileocecal valve (Ileocecal Valve Syndrome) are extremely common in today‚Äôs society yet its symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Very few health practitioners understand the significance of the ICV in digestive problems.”

My nd has been talking to me about this because one day, on a whim, she decided to manipulate the valve to close it. I was having stomach pain that very moment and was very bloated and frustrated. She had me lie down and proceeded to push in on my right side and move slowly back and forth in little waves (video of how to do this found on my SIBO Guide page, under Websites/Videos). It isn’t pleasant and hurts when someone pushes on it, but once it actually closes, you feel relief. Sometimes it’s very small at first, sometimes almost imperceptibly so. But a few minutes later I noticed that my stomach pain was subsiding, and my bloat had decreased. She encouraged me to try it at home on myself, or have my husband do it.

The next time I got that weird pain, I dutifully laid down to dig weirdly into my stomach. The things we do, I swear. Anyway, try as I might, I couldn’t “close” it. I ended up nearly giving myself a bruise from pushing so hard. I had Joe try it and he was even worse. He pushed so hard and was digging so deep it was like he was trying to find a buried treasure. We were laughing so hard (in between my screeches and yelps because it felt like he was pushing straight into my kidneys). ūüėõ The next appt., I asked her to show me again and to explain it in detail. That’s when I videoed it to share with you all. Shortly after that appointment, I left for Portland, Oregon to visit a friend. I had PLANS for Portland. Mainly of the food-and-booze variety. I wanted to test out my new sibo-free belly. I was ready to indulge and drink bourbon and eat my body weight in cheese. My nd


Gluten and coffee and cheese, oh my!

instructed me to try to close the valve before eating and again afterward. Luckily, the friend I was visiting (Celina) is super comfortable with the body. She’s a yogi and reiki master and when I explained she would have to close my valve multiple times a day, we had a good laugh and she was like, “Well…lay down. Let’s do it!” Aren’t good friends who will close your intestinal valve the best? Haha again…the things we do. It would sometimes take awhile to get it, but when we did, it helped SO. MUCH. I mean I really indulged people. I had gluten. I


My fantastic Portland buddies! ‚̧

had beer. I had donuts. I had coffee every single day (I’ve been off coffee and well, ALL of these things for nearly 8 months!). I went out and partied for my birthday and even ate at an all macaroni and cheese restaurant ‘Dis girl wasn’t playin’. ¬†Only a few times did I have pain ( I THINK I am tracing the pain to my digestive enzymes) but each time I did, we worked on it and it subsided quickly, along with much of the bloat. It’s like some sort of weird SIBO switch. DISCLAIMER: This is ONLY going to help you if it is actually your problem. Meaning, this technique will only provide you relief if you are actually having illeocecal valve disfunction. ND DISCLAIMER: My ND wants to be clear that she is not recommending this treatment to others without personal consultation. ¬†This massage technique was recommended to me during my individualized treatment plan and she would recommend you seek medical care/advice from a doctor or educated practitioner before attempting it. ¬†So basically, try it at your own risk. ¬†It certainly made my vacation more fun. ūüôā And it’s a hilarious memory for Celina and I for many years to come. I’d eat and then say, “Close mah valve, gurrrrl!” and she’d get right to work. ¬†When you have friends like that, you can’t really complain too much about life. ¬†ūüôā

I also began to notice another pattern while on vacay. I only had stomach pain every now and then (about 3x times while on the trip) and the foods I had eaten when the stomach pain came on were not consistent. Then, BING! ¬†A light went on and I remembered that with each of those meals, I had taken digestive enzymes beforehand. ¬†A while ago I was taking Protease as a biofilm disruptor, which I learned really hurt my stomach. ¬†Many people can take these without issue, but for some reason, it gave me terrible stomach cramps. ¬†I have now tried 3 different brands of digestive enzymes and finally realized that all of them have high levels of Protease. ¬†Why didn’t I put this together before, you ask? ¬†Because I am a moron. The connection never made its way into my brain. ¬†I had slowly convinced myself that tomatoes were the culprit, but once I realized the enzyme connection and stopped taking them, I tolerated tomatoes with no problems at all. ¬†I tell you this in case YOU are experiencing some pain and are currently taking enzymes. ¬†It seems that NDs and doctors ALWAYS recommend these and for many people I think it can be extremely helpful. ¬†But some of us are just too sensitive.

So that’s where I am. I have now moved on to Denver to finish this entry and just indulged in a mocha and small sandwich. It’s so fun to eat again, I can’t even tell you all. I even indulged in Portland


Mah drunk-on-a-rooftop-in-Portland face. ūüôā

with a spicy mango, orange, jalepeno infused vodka drink. YUM. And shockingly, no problems whatsoever. F-U-N I tells ya! Those things are highly problematic for SIBO, so right now I’m feeling on top of the world, despite Oscar telling me otherwise. He’s an old bastard anyway. I just love thinking of my ovary as a grumpy, pissed old man. (For those of you reading my blog for the first time…yes, I’m weird)

Denver and Portland brought great times with old friends, LOTS of food andovary13
¬†booze, trail ¬†running and huffing and puffing while running in the altitude,¬†hours of Dr. Seuss reading with my friend’s adorable little girl, hanging with my aunt and uncle and cousins, and catching up with some of my favorite people in the world – my friend Sarah and my friend Celina. My friend Celina is in so many ways, my complete opposite. ¬†We are so vastly different that we often


Celina and I

laugh that we even became friends. ¬†But I LOVE our differences. She challenges me to look at the world through an entirely different lens. ¬†She forces me to look at things that make me uncomfortable or to notice things I would never otherwise notice or contemplate. ¬†Likewise, Sarah is one of the most self-aware people you’ll ever meet. She constantly challenges me to break out of my little Katie world and to push beyond my usual thought patterns, which can lead toward self-ridicule and anger at myself. We had many intense conversations about our life choices; why we remain entrenched in the same destructive spaces, why we ignore our higher selves and how we cling to denial out of fear. It stirred up quite a bit in me, honestly, and I need some time to work through it. But despite a surgery looming and some weird life


Sarah and I

choices that I need to work out in the next few months, I’m so grateful in this moment. No, not for food (ok, not ONLY for fun food) but for…life. For the ability to move outside of myself, to not linger any longer in self-pity or shame about that self-pity. Not gonna lie about it, this year has SUCKED health-wise, but in so many ways it’s been eye-opening. I had my major crutch, my drug-of-choice, my main coping mechanism taken away: FOOD. My entire life I’ve relied on food to soothe, to calm, to celebrate, to cover up pain or anger or fear. Having that taken away has been incredibly difficult and also eye-opening. It’s forced me to really learn to concentrate on other joys in life more, and to focus more inwardly on my feelings instead of just eating them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll still be an emotional eater, but I think I’ve finally learned to look at my relationship with food in a healthier way, as well as (and probably even more importantly) learned to look more closely at my reasons for using food as my emotional savior. ¬†I’m still muddling through all of this, but I can honestly say that all of these health issues, while being a total bitch, have also shown me some things that I needed to focus on; like my attitude, my great privilege in this world, my tendency to self-loathe, my desire to grow and be


Contemplating mah life in the CO mountains

a better, more empathetic and compassionate version of myself, and my fear of failing. These are things I would eat away. These are things that I need to dive into, instead. Seriously, I am NOT one of these “everything happens for a reason!” people…in fact that statement makes me viscerally angry (work with child sex abuse like I have for awhile and see if you can EVER say that statement again), but I DO, wholeheartedly believe that we can grow and learn and push our boundaries in the face of frustration and difficulty. I am proud to say that I am doing that. It might have taken me awhile and I might have spent one-too-many days holed up in mah “bed cave” (that’s what my husband calls it…when I get REALLY down I lie in bed with the shades drawn with my cat and binge-watch things like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” or “Project Runway”…don’t judge me!!! And simultaneously feel sorry for myself while hating myself for basking in self-pity), but I’m facing it and that’s what matters. We all have to move through those stages in order to get to acceptance…which is something I’ll talk more about next time.


The hubs and I on our trip. ūüôā

Fast forward 4 days and I’m at home, finishing up this entry. ¬†Today is my surgery and I’m less nervous than I thought. ¬†I’ve never even had so much as a stitch, so this is all unfamiliar territory to me. ¬†I was super healthy right up until the day that I wasn’t. ¬†And while I know that surgery and the removal of Oscar will come with it’s own set of issues, I am hopeful that I will finallyoscar15 get some relief from (other) issues. ¬†It’s time to heal and recover and get back to my Katie self. ¬†Some friends and I went out for one last toast to Oscar yesterday. Cheers Oscar…it’s been real. ¬†But now you gots to go. ¬†Rest in peace, ya grouchy old bastard.


#byebyeoscar #ovaryfarewelltour

My last shake E-V-A-R!!!

My last post as the postergirl for Elemental dieting! Roll out the friggin’ red carpet ya’ll, ’cause Katie Caldwell just went 23 days without eating! ¬†I feel like I deserve a medal with a picture of a chocolate-covered taco on it or something. ¬†This blog has been really interesting and fun. You guys have pushed me INTO the blogosphere, for realsies! ¬†Now I’m going to have to come up with some new crazy thing to keep your attention! For my next post, I will shave¬†my head and jump naked off a mountain of garbage trucks while juggling scorpions into the world’s largest pile of cotton candy! Make sure you tune back in! ¬†(and Mmmmmm cotton candy…)

This is my last day on the elemental diet (Vivonex T.E.N.). ¬†As per usual, you can see the first installment¬†here, the second update¬†here, and the most recent post (other than this one) here. ¬†All you really need to know however is that thesiboblog2¬†elemental has been my dark, somewhat abusive master for the last 3 weeks. One time, furious at its intercession in my otherwise glorious days of chewing and swallowing, I exclaimed before my first sip, “Are you happy now you stinky asshole?” My husband thought I was talking to him, and it almost started a fight. ¬†And when I explained, I think he was frightened, as the elemental causes my crazy to rear its ugly, deformed head. ¬†I extended the diet 2 days, as I had enough packets of the Vivonex T.E.N.¬†to last me past the 21 days. ¬†On my 21st day, I will admit I was cursing that decision. ¬†All I could think over and over was , “I was¬†supposed to be done today.”

Before I jump into a bloggity blog, I have to comment on the tragedy that happened this week in Nepal. ¬†I am horrified at what I’ve read and seen. Please¬†consider donating¬†to one of these organizations. ¬†Prayers and warm loving thoughts are wonderful, but they do not clothe, feed, shelter, or soothe those desperately searching for their loved ones. ¬†Give what you can, and continue¬†to send your love and aloha to the people of Nepal.

Because so many have asked, here is what I’ve done thus far to put my SIBO into remission:

1) Took a full dosage of Xifaxin (14 days)

2) Started on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) + Low FODMAPS and followed it (strictly) for 9 weeks
3) Took Berberine
(after completing the round of Xifaxin) for 5 weeks

4) Began Low Dose Naltrexone for motility issues (began with 2mg, eventually moved to 3.5 mg)
5) Started weekly acupuncture
6) B12 shots once a week (this REALLY helped my energy level!)
7) After seeing very few results from the above treatments, began the Elemental Diet by taking Vivonex T.E.N. for 23 days
8) Began a second round of Xifaxin while on the elemental
9) 1 week into the elemental, added a Biofilm Disruptor called ProTease
10) I’ve also taken countless other supplements, that I won’t detail here as of yet.
11) I exercise every day, (even if it’s just a walk).

12) I work on the Vagus Nerve by using a tongue depressor to gag myself multiple times a day. If you have SIBO, you should really look into the Vagus nerve/gut connection.  It sounds like crazy witchcraft, but there is sound science behind it.
13) I juice low fodmap veggies (no fruits) every morning, but I limit it to 1/2 cup ONLY (as advised by my n.d. and a nutritionist because of the sugar and starch that still exists in juice). ¬†I obviously don’t do this while on the elemental, but otherwise.¬†

14)¬†But of all of these things, the most important thing I can recommend to anyone battling this or any other gut illness: GET A GOOD DOCTOR. There are some really uninformed doctors when it comes to diseases of the gut. And they can not only convince you that you are on the cray-cray end of the bonkers scale,¬†they can lead you very astray. A friend of mine with SIBO was told by her G.I. to eat a ton of fiber. ¬†She did just that, and writhing in pain 24 hours later (fiber is HORRIBLE for SIBO), she started seeing my Naturopath. Now, n.d. or m.d., I don’t care…just get a doc that listens.¬†¬†YOU are the expert on your body. ¬†My n.d. spent 1.5 hours with me our first session¬†and never makes me feel silly or belittles my questions. ¬†This is hugely important, folks.¬†Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. ¬†

Going forward, I will be combining 3 separate diets, as I mentioned in mysiboblog1 first post. ¬†SCD+ low fodmap and the Fast Tract Digestion Dietby Norm Robillard. The first diet was simply not enough. ¬†I wasn’t getting symptom relief, which was leaving me feeling not only hugely deprived, but hugely frustrated. ¬†I mean hell folks, if you’re gonna have to watch¬†every. little. thing.¬†you put into your mouth with the diligence of a Buddhist monk, you’d better be seeing results. ¬†This book really made sense to me. ¬†It specifically addresses¬†the fermentation potential (FP) of any food we eat. ¬†Foods are assigned an FP, and you keep it as low as you can throughout your day to manage symptoms. ¬†It works sort of similarly to weight watchers in this way, in a “don’t go over your points!” kinda way. ¬†I am hoping that this is the missing link for me. Now, to be honest, I do not believe that I can heal SIBO through diet alone. ¬†But I do believe that diet can be one of the best ways to lessen symptoms. ¬†So…here’s to another strictly wild diet! ¬†ūüôā

Something that has very frequently come up in my conversations with others about the blog is the subject¬†of exercise. ¬†I’ve talked about this a bit, but because I have gotten so many questions about running while I have SIBO, I feel like I should address it more thoroughly. ¬†Many people with SIBO say that siboblog3exercise is impossible. I have a tendency to believe one of two things: “Wow, some of these people are waaaaay more sick than I am.” or “Wow, some of these people are perhaps a little too ¬†committed to being sick.” ¬†Now, before you chase me with virtual sticks and torches, let me be clear that I too am guilty of the 2nd one. ¬†I think anyone that has a chronic illness has likely let it rule their decisions, even when they shouldn’t. It’s a built-in excuse not to do things.

When I first got diagnosed, I stayed in bed with an upset stomach¬†and decided that I was¬†sick and didn’t¬†need¬†to run. ¬†I felt vindicated in my decision. ¬†I wasn’t making it up, I didn’t feel good. ¬†But after several days of feeling the same way and sinking lower and lower and lower…I knew I had to quit using this thing as a reason to stop doing something that was overall good for me, and something that makes me, ME. ¬†And while yes, I can certainly understand pain and diarrhea and running do not a good combination make, there is still something so healing and lovely about simply moving your¬†body outdoors. ¬†I believe the benefits outweisiboblog4gh the negatives. Just, uh, stay close to home for those first few walks/runs. ¬†Trust me on this.

I have definitely had to cut back¬†however, most especially while on the elemental. ¬†I went from running 40-50 miles a week to barely squeaking out 20 miles. ¬†Right after being diagnosed, when my energy was the lowest, I was so exhausted after MAKING myself complete 2 measly, sloth-like miles that I couldn’t even stand to wash my hair in the shower. ¬†I had to sit in an exhausted heap on the shower floor, wondering if my running days were actually behind me.¬†But, after some kick-ass B12 shots (better than steroids, I say!) I was feeling far more capable and energetic. ¬†And after I started the elemental, I had to cut back yet again, moving to running only siboblog5every other day and cutting out weights and swimming, as well as a lot of biking. To be honest, there are days when my belly hurts the entire run, days where I am still inexplicably tired and sluggish, and days when I might have to do that awkward Immodium-commercial run (you know…”gotta go, gotta go, gotta go…”) to the nearest beach bathroom, but I never regret it. ¬†I’m always happy and proud that I did it and I find my mood is far better throughout the day when I do it. ¬†So, unless you are TRULY bed-ridden (and I do know some of you legitimately are right now), get out there and do¬†something. ¬†I promise with all of the fervor of the fires of mordor that I am not shitting you…you will thank¬†yourself. You may have to sit in the shower for awhile at first, but you’ll eventually get into the standing, homosapien upright position.

Now, it is not only probable, but likely that many of you feel worse than I do and have far more debilitating symptoms. ¬†So please,¬†please¬†know that if you are truly housebound or bed-bound, I am not talking to you. ¬†Rest up, and do everything you can to get your life back. ¬†The above message is meant for people like me that yes, don’t feel good often, but also don’t feel terrible enough to skip out on exercise, all social events, or work. ¬†This is your kick-siboblog6in-the-pants post…I had someone do it for me and now I’m paying it forward. Get out of your pj’s, turn off the Netflix, and throw out the self pity long enough to DO something for yourself, your family, or for others in need. This illness can make us self-absorbed, but let’s not let it. ¬†I went to a potluck and donation day for the homeless in Kaka’ako park this last weekend. ¬†THOSE people have it rough, THOSE people are suffering. ¬†Me, not so much. ¬†Who cares if I had to go 3 weeks without eating? ¬†There were little girls and boys there that have likely gone months without a decent meal…who often go to bed in their tents on the hard ground with rumbling bellies. ¬†There are people in the world that would LOVE to have my stinky, farty-smellin’ Vivonex shakes. ¬†And I selfishly write a blog lamenting the fact that I have to drink them.

*Steps daintily off sopabox* ¬† Now that I’m coming to the end of this , ironically it didn’t seem so bad. ¬†Isn’t that funny? ¬†It felt soooo SLOW¬†going through it and now I’m like, “I can’t believe the 3 weeks are over!” ¬†Or maybe it just solidifies my siboblog7suspicion that I am bat-shit crazy. ¬†Since I have now come to the point where¬†I look forward to my shakes, I think bat-shit is fairly accurate. ¬†Really though, this was not as crazy
hard as I made it out to be, pre-diet. I was sooo scared of this, sooo sure I would fail, sooo certain that I would wake up at 2am and sleep-cook a vat of macaroni-n-cheese, but here I am!  Sans macaroni!

I have tried to let go of the illusion that this totally¬†worked. ¬†I am not in remission, that I know. I am still bloated every day. ¬†I’m sad, but I am holding out hope that my numbers will have improved and that SOME healing has occurred. ¬†If not, watch out, doc. ¬†I am likely to throw am adult-sized toddler tantrum in your clinic. ¬†My hydrogen peaked at 133, which is very high, so my doc has been trying to prepare me that since I had such a severe case, the elemental might not be able to eradicate it as easily as most. ¬†But…onward! ¬†I will not be thwarted, oh ye SIBO beast! ¬†I shan’t be defeated! ¬†(Fighting SIBO brings out my Shakespearean side, ok? Shut up.)


Joyfully kicking my last Vivonex box like the mature adult that I am.


I’m doing much better this weekend. ¬†It must be because I know it’s my last. ¬†I didn’t even flinch when Joe ordered Indian food (the food I crave most!). ¬†I decided not to run today, because I lost another pound this week (whoops! and after I just reported to all of you that my weightloss had stabilized!). ¬†Joe and I went for a long walk instead. ¬†I’ve been having this dangerous thought lately though. ¬†I want just ONE delicious meal. ¬†I would LOVE to have one fat-ass Indian meal of chicken tikka masala and cheese-stuffed, buttery naan. I crave it sooo badly sometimes. ¬†I even start to rationalize it to myself thinking, “Would ONE meal REALLY hurt me THAT much?!?!?!” ¬†But this isn’t weightloss, folks…it’s an illness. ¬†One meal would actually hurt me…not only physically, but it would likely set back healing for weeks. ¬†That’s what I keep going back to when I get really tempted. ¬†I did not stop eating for 3 weeks just to undo it all with one delicious Indian curry. ¬†At least not yet. ¬†ūüėõ


Four days left! ¬†Again! ¬†In case you missed it, my n.d. advised me to keep going on the elemental for a few extra days, since I had extra packets. ¬†So even though I crossed this threshold once and celebrated it, I’m here again! ¬†Ha! ¬†I had my first normal bowel movement in nearly 3 weeks today. ¬†Ohhhhh yeah baby! ¬†Poopstar, right hurrrrrrr! ¬†It’s sad how thrilling this is, but I know all of my fellow SIBOers will understand. ¬†For the others, sorry. ¬†This is what my life has become. ¬†I am still bloated, though it has been better the last few days. ¬†I’m trying to get over being disheartened that this didn’t put me into remission. ¬†I knew this was a long road from the beginning, so I need to remember that it took me years to develop this and it will take more than 4 months to recover from it. ¬†But still, it’s hard. ¬†It’s hard to keep perspective and it’s hard to live this way. ¬†It’s JUST food though, dammit. ¬†It’s just food.


3 days left, people! ¬†I had a good run this morning, had a busy day planning and preparing for my class (in case I haven’t mentioned, I teach Women’s Studies at the University of Hawai’i). ¬†I spent the last half of the day pouring over recipes and trying to figure out my shopping list for Thursday night, as I begin eating on Friday. ¬†Broth, broth, broth for the first few days. ¬†As many of you know, bone broth (which is often touted as the holy grail of digestion-healing food for many gut illnesses such as UC or Crohn’s) is often not good for SIBO patients. ¬†It’s important to know this, because many of the diets we are told to follow include bone broth. Please read about why this is so right here¬†(under the heading of¬†Bone Broths and Fermented Foods). ¬†So, because of this, I was given a yummy-looking meat broth recipe from an SCD + low fodmap group. Find the recipe here. ¬†And leave out the garlic, onions, and

//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js” width=”275″ height=”275″ /> My homemade meat broth…first meal in 23 daysssss!

celery (I used celeriac root!) if you’re trying to avoid fodmaps. ¬†I will have this for a few days, then slowly add in some turkey or super moist meat, then some pureed veggies. It’s weird, I feel like I’m starting all over again. I guess in a sense, I am.


Holy shitballs folks, I made 3 weeks! ¬†I did it! ¬†Wild! ¬†I had a busy day, with a crazy ending. ¬†I went to my n.d.’s office for acupuncture and to pick up my test kit, which I am supposed to take tomorrow (whooooo!). ¬†Wednesday is the latest I can take the test because it has to be mailed to the mainland. ¬†Well, when I got to the clinic, they informed me they were out of tests. ¬†I was like, “Uhhhhh whaaaa?!?!?!” ¬†I knew my n.d. had told them to order the test weeks ago. ¬†This put me in a tough position because if I don’t have one, I would have to follow the specific diet for the test to take it early next week. ¬†But because I haven’t been eating, I wouldn’t be able to follow the diet (not without severe trauma and pain to my intestines) for some time. ¬†I was out of the Vivonex, so staying on it longer wasn’t an option. ¬†My n.d. called all over the island and couldn’t find a single test kit. ¬†She came back into the room and told me that I might have to make the homemade version and stay on it until Monday. Otherwise, my only other choice was to start eating and wait until I was strong enough to take the test in a few weeks (when I could properly follow the diet). ¬†This would mess with the “true” results of the elemental. ¬†I could tell she felt really terrible, but I immediately started laughing. ¬†This is so my life. ¬†I often joke with Joe that timing is a problem over and over again in my life…things are just always the TEENSIEST bit off, timing-wise for me. ¬†And it just struck me as comical that I have not eaten for 3 weeks and I would have to go a whole other week because of not having a test kit. ¬†My doc probably thought I was nuts. ¬† BUT, the clinic hustled and not only found a test kit, but called the lab and got them to agree to take the kit late (so it didn’t sit in a lab over the weekend and mess up the results). ¬†So now, back on track. ¬†It taught me something though…the old Katie would have FREAKED the f*ck out about this, but I swear this illness is teaching me greater patience. ¬†Some things are just out of our hands. ¬†I went to talk to the clerk that had supposedly been the one to drop the ball in not ordering the test on time…she seemed horrified. She apologized frantically and I just gave her a hug and said, “Girl…it’s okay. Stuff like this happens to everyone, and it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I had to wait 6 days.” ¬†She looked at me amazed and I even thought to myself, “Who the f*ck am I?!?! ¬†That didn’t sound like me at all!” Hahaha…life is funny.


Last couple of days! ¬†Weird! ¬†I’ve been SUPER hungry today, so I decided to skip my run. ¬†I didn’t want to make myself even hungrier. ¬†I’ll have a few packets left over (2) when I’m finished tomorrow, so I suppose I’ll use those to supplement my meals the following few days. Ease into this a bit. ¬†I spent most of my day working on lesson plans and taking it easy. ¬†I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow, including my test! ¬†I’ve noticed no new changes in the last few days. ¬†Still bloat¬†with regularity and still getting frustrated by it with regularity. ¬†ūüėõ ¬†I’m starting on Allimed in just a few days (the first day I eat), so that will be my new treatment protocol for awhile. ¬†I had some nausea today, but it was brief and mild.


FINAL DAY!!!! ¬†I woke up this morning and started my second lactulose hydrogen/methane breath test. ¬†I drank the solution and it was like a WHAM!!!! to my taste buds. I haven’t had sugar in forever and it was sickly sweet. ¬†I was really happy at first because I didn’t react as terribly as I did the first time I took the test, which made me think that maybe things had improved! But I celebrated too quickly (as per usual) because after about 30 minutes, my stomach was hurting and I was chillin’ with my old buddy the toilet. ¬†DAMMIT. ¬†It REALLY got me down. Like, REALLY. ¬†I was sincerely tempted to call my favorite Indian joint and order my old stand-by favorite dishes and just tear into those bad boys. ¬†I kept thinking (rationalizing), “I already¬†feel like shit, this damn diet didn’t work, and all I want is to eat something yummy for the first time in months!” ¬†But I’m being dramatic and I realize that I don’t even I¬†know ¬†that I won’t have much better results from testing this time. ¬†I called my doc and said, “I need you to talk me out of shoving an entire pizza in my mouth right now.” ¬†She was really sweet and supportive and did just that. ¬†After I got off the phone with her, I cried like a child, and then felt better. ¬†But PHEW…it was a tough go there for a bit. Sometimes you really just wanna throw your¬†hands in the air and say F*CK it. I think my willpower and patience have been extra low these last few days, because I only had 2 packets each day (because of the test which you have to fast for). ¬†The limited amount of calories changed things for me…I was legitimately¬†hungry again and that made the cravings far more intense. I’m proud that I didn’t crack though, because I really almost did.

So, there ya have it, folks! ¬†My elemental journey = COMPLETE! ¬†I thank you all for tuning in, for listening, for cheering me on, for sharing your stories with me, and for laughing at all of the absurdities that this illness brings. ¬†It has truly helped. ¬†I will update¬†again when I get test results in and figure out the next steps to tackle this bastard. ¬†I’ll also be adding a recipe section because we all know how hard it is to eat while trying to rid our bodies of this bacteria-eyed monster. ¬†Mahalo nui loa and thank you for going through this with me. ¬†ūüôā


Wha?!?! A non-travel blog? Yes, that is correct, dear reader! Instead, this will be a bitchfest¬†blog about my current health woes. I’ve not talked about it much online and on social media, but today I actually found out that I got a friend diagnosed with the same illness that I have, and while that was depressing for us both, it was also a relief to know that she had an answer. I began to think that my story might actually help someone else. So sit right back, get comfy, and proceed only if you’re comfortable with the occasional graphic detail. For years, doctors¬†have been telling my friend that her symptoms were “in her head” and have been prescribing her anti-depressants. Yeah. Thanks, doc. Bitches be loco, right? I would like to print out this article and give it to all doctors¬†as mandatory reading.


sibo1So, here is my story in all of its lacking glory…in case you too are struggling with the same thing, or something similar. ¬†Stop on by, and we can commiserate and complain together. But not with a cocktail or chocolate, because that is not allowed. So have a steaming cup of coffee – WAIT. F*CK that’s not allowed either. Oh here…just have a glass of water. Mmmm…isn’t that decadent? Well get stoked, because this is your life now.


Some time ago (probably 3 or 4 years ago), I began to notice some strange symptoms. I was often very tired in the afternoon, almost to a crashing point. I had stomach pain when I ate certain fruits and I often bloated¬†just by looking at food. Most of this I ignored, as we often do. Being a girl however, and always privy to the never-ending scrutiny that girls have on their bodies, I couldn’t ignore one thing: I was quickly gaining weight.sibo3¬†As many know, I have long been a serious runner. I’ve completed 4 marathons and nearly always (except for in times of injury or great depression) hit a minimum of 35-40 miles a week. Combine this with weight training, yoga, and biking to commute and you have one very active Katie. I was confused by how easily I packed on the ole LBs. So, I decided to clean up my diet. And by “clean up” I mean a SERIOUS overhaul.


While I’ve long been dedicated to fitness, I have not really been¬†dedicated to healthy eating¬†practices. Sure, I ate “healthy” compared to many others, but I was uneducated about food. Joe (my husband) had decided to get smart about food and wanted me to be his Agent 99. He went gluten free and started following the Perfect Health Diet (PHD), after almost a year of pouring over nutrition books and websites. I dabbled, I dipped my lil’ toe in, but I didn’t REALLY commit. I added a few more veggies, I ate a little more meat. I decided to throw out things like vegetable oil (TERRIBLE! ¬†If you do ONE thing to clean up your diet, ditch the shitty oil and ditch the diet sodas!) and moved from Sweet-n-Low to real sugar. Joe kept subtlety dropping hints about some of my food choices; being Joe though, he was mostly kind enough to just make soft suggestions and let me get there on my own time. I slllllllllowly incorporated more of the PHD into my life over the next year. One day I suddenly realized…hey! I’m not getting sick anymore! (I used to get sick quite often), and hey! I actually feel good and have energy and my mood swings are better! I know it’s difficult to imagine me with mood swings folks, being the stunningly diplomatic woman that you know me to be, but occasionally I could tie on the crazy and bring it EXTRA hard. Once I noticed these things, I really committed more. I decided to learn how to cook. I’ll give those of you that have known me for years a few seconds to laugh at that one before continuing…


Are you done? Yes, I Katie Caldwell, hater of vegetables and all things sibo2domestic, decided that learning to cook was the only way to REALLY eat healthy. I¬†started slowly and got confident with some easy recipes. I switched from go-to processed foods to real dinners and while I absolutely sucked at it for quite a long time, I eventually got some delicious healthy recipes down and was feeling pretty dern good about myself. I still hated to cook, however, and Joe steered clear of the kitchen because it often stressed me out and apparently, made me as “mean as socks for Christmas” (his words) but I was trying and couldn’t wait to reap the rewards of my new-found healthy lifestyle.


Several months in…rewards not reaped. Yes, I had more energy and still wasn’t getting sick. Yay. But I was still having a “crash” every afternoon and I was still gaining weight. WHAT. THE. HELL. BODY? I couldn’t understand it. I was eating healthier than I ever had in my whole life. I was running and exercising like a maniac, but still the scale just kept inching up. And while I was not in any way fat, I was frustrated. I kept thinking to myself, “If I am working THIS hard, I should look like a damn supermodel.” Yes. I was focusing too much on my appearance. Yes, I was being vain. I’ll admit it. I’m not proud of it. But evensibo4 a well-educated fiercely staunch feminist like myself falls into these trappings. Being aware of them doesn’t erase a lifetime of being taught that women are only as important as their beauty, and their beauty is closely¬†tied into their ability to writhe and wriggle into skinny jeans and how much men find them sexy. Too often I find myself in the role of anarchist AND victim with these societal pressures, which is a strange role indeed. It’s wildly confusing in this head sometimes. Hence, perhaps, the mood swings. ¬†ūüėõ I eventually gave up and thought to myself, “This is my new body. This is aging. You’re being ridiculous and too hard on yourself.” Of course I continued to be hard on myself and continued to be frustrated, but I stopped looking for answers.


I spent that summer in the Philippines, working with young girls that changed my life in the most drastic and wonderful way sibo5(pictured here dancing with my girls – I did music therapy with them all summer). I saw REAL suffering, REAL pain, and my privileged/American/ ¬†white self didn’t think at ALL about my weight. I did however, manage to contract a parasitic¬†amoeba while there. It was absolutely the sickest I’ve ever been in my whole life. I’m talking both ends, people. I’m talking about both ends in 110 degree heat without a flushing toilet and mosquitoes swarming all around you while leaning over your porcelain rival. ¬†It was brutal. Having now gone through this experience, I (and my doc) believe that this greatly exacerbated the troubles that I face now. However, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that this body of mine is a mystery wrapped up in a mystery and many things contributed to my health woes.


I was on multiple antibiotics for over 6 weeks trying to rid my body of that infection. They were super strong and powerful and while they did indeed get rid of my not-so-welcome Filipino souvenir, they essentially WRECKED my body. Even after I seemingly recovered from the parasite, I never really bounced back. I was extremely low energy and really struggled through my runs. I noticed that my hard-earned muscle tone had really diminished in my legs and stomach. The parasite had made me skinny – the female holy grail – but it had made me skinny by eating my muscle. So I was left with more cellulite and wrinkles and poor muscle tone. Great. All of this happened rather slowly…I ¬†began to notice that I was having poor digestion. Loose stools (sorry, but I warned ya!), bloating after eating practically anything, and occasional tummy pain. I made an appointment¬†with a new doctor with the hopes that they would test me for something, ANYTHING to explain what was happening. And once again, they told me that I presented (that’s the key word, here…you’d think doctors could look beyond presentation) as healthy. I might as well have been seeing Dr. Leo Spaceman from 30 Rock.¬†sibo6I was at a healthy weight, my blood pressure was normal, everything was “FINE.” I left feeling lower than ever. That very night, I decided I was DONE with doctors. I had long talked about seeing a Naturopath but had never actually done it. Joe and I both avoid over-the-counter meds and only take antibiotics when it is absolutely necessary…why not try the natural route? I immediately began searching through google and yelp for esteemed Naturopaths in Honolulu. When lo and behold, the most highly rated one was on my very STREET. A two minute walk from my door to her office. It seemed fated. I made an appointment and hoped for the best.


A week later, I was sitting in her office. I was waiting; feeling asibo7ll haggard and depressed and like this, ¬†——————– >
when in walks this gorgeous, bright-eyed, dewy-skinned woman that seemed to float¬†into the room. I just looked at her and had to squelch the urge to say, “MAKE ME LIKE YOU!!!!” because she exuded the epitome of health. She spent over an hour with me. She REALLY listened to me. She took my symptoms seriously. She ordered several tests and put a rush on them. I left feeling hopeful instead of belittled.


When my tests came back, we got down to business. She told me that I was extremely hypothyroid and that I had tested positive for an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s. (Side note: many with Hashi’s develop it because of a gluten insensitivity, but my fabulous N.D. also happens to be from Kentucky [my home state!] and she informed me that Hashi’s is incredibly common in the bluegrass state. This is because of living in a coal mining area. Heavy metal poisoning also causes this disease because lead/metals in these areas can sneak into the water and into the ground and subsequent crops. Ever since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve had SEVEN people that I know from Kentucky be diagnosed with Hashi’s. I think there is something to this). She wanted to treat me with a natural thyroid supplement (Naturethroid). I learned that my adrenals were super stressed and she put me on herbal supplements for that as well. She also gave me the super-amazing-magic-bean pill: Seriphos (read more about this on my SIBO Guide page).¬†sibo8Seriphos is a cortisol-regulating supplement that turned this anxiety-ridden, lifetime insomniac into a sound sleeper. Seriously guys, when I was a little kid I would sneak a book and a flashlight under the covers with me when I was put to bed because otherwise I would lay there for hours staring at the ceiling. Now I fall asleep in 30 minutes, ya’ll! She put me on some other herbals and vitamins and told me to completely cut out gluten for the Hashi’s.


I went home armed with a plan and went hard-core gluten free. Not dabbling, not sticking my toe in, the whole she-bang. It took a few weeks, but I began to feel much better, more energetic, less moody, and the pounds came MELTING off. A few short months later, we were heading out to France and Morocco for a 5 week vacation. I told my ND that I wasn’t sure I could be gluten free in France (buttery croissants??!?!?!) and she told me that I should try bread there and see what happened because other countries use far less gluten in their bread (and less sugar, too!) Plus, they buy everything fresh, so there aren’t harmful chemicals or preservatives in their foods. SOLD. Ya don’t gotta convince me to dive headfirst into a pile of bread.


Well, she was RIGHT! I indulged. Like, BIG TIME. I had croissants everysibo9 morning, fresh from the bakery. I had pasta, I had pizza, I ate whatever the hell my little Katie heart desired. It was GLORIOUS. It really didn’t affect me at all. In fact, I felt better in France than I had in YEARS. Years! It made me think (and still makes me wonder) if my Hashi’s is, in fact, due to lead poisoning instead of gluten issues. It was enough to make me move permanently to France, but Joe didn’t seem so on board with that idea. WHY ZEE ELL NOT? J’aime la France!


After I came home, we went RIGHT into Christmas. This meant lots of sugar and not eating as well. All of a sudden, I started feeling REALLY off. I had major digestion issues, diarrhea, stomach pain. The main symptom was bloating…like, EXTREME bloating. I hesitate to post this because it’s embarrassing, but I want you to know what I’m talking about. sibo10Here I am, 110 lbs. and 5’4. With THIS belly. Check out the lower stomach. Wild. ¬†nd in the effort to be completely transparent, I must admit that this is even on the smaller side. The final straw was someone in a grocery store asking when I was due. I horrifyingly composed myself and squeaked out, “Uhhhh…5 months?” I just couldn’t bear telling him otherwise (of course it was a dude, right? No woman would ever be so brazen or, ahem, stupid)¬†because we would then BOTH be traumatized. That very day I called my N.D. and told her what was happening. She immediately said, “We need to get you tested for SIBO.”


SIBO? What the f*ck is SIBO? Have you ever heard of SIBO? Nope, me neither. But I suspect that much like Celiac disease, you will be hearing much about it in the coming years. It stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, and is exactly what it states: too much bacteria in the small intestine. We all have bacteria in our guts, good and bad, all of the time. But most of this bacteria is in the large intestine, not in the small intestine. The bacteria that normally reside in the gastrointestinal tract have abnormally overgrown in a location that isn’t designed to handle so much bacteria. This can result in numerous issues; interfering with our digestion, damage to the lining of the small intestine (leaky gut), food and nutrient malabsorption, stomach motility problems, damage to the immune system (aggravating already-existing autoimmune issues or creating them), and bacteria that can get into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on one’s body. In short, it’s a damn mess. For more info on symptoms, treatment, diet, etc. click here. Dr. Alison Siebecker is one of the leading SIBO experts in the nation.


I left her office feeling better…I knew what was wrong! I could start to fix this! She had talked about putting me on antibiotics and other herbals and going on a diet for SIBO. I was armed with information and felt empowered! I was ready to kick some SIBO ASS!!!!


Then, the internet. Damn ALLLLLL of the internets!¬†siboI started researching and as I gained more information and read and read and read until my eyes were watery, I had a horrible sinking feeling. This wasn’t ever going to go away. I learned that it’s usually a chronic condition (something that I will relapse with likely over and over) and it’s a BEAST to get into remission. My ND had been rather solemn when she delivered the news, but I had blown past it in my happiness to finally have an answer. The more I read, the more forlorn I got. EVERY story was about people that had been fighting this thing for years with little results. They would get it into remission, then relapse just a few months (or even weeks!) later. I spent the better part of a week researching and came up with only two REAL success stories of people that moved SIBO into remission and kept it there. I was supposed to start this new diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) + Low Fodmaps (basically a far more strict version of SCD) that was wildly restrictive. Instead, I went on an emotional binge eating spree that would have made Liz Lemon herself recoil in horror.¬†sibo11I rationalized it as a “goodbye” to food, but really I was just sad and in denial about changing my life in such a profound way.


I’ve long been an emotional eater and it is deeply ingrained in me. While over the years I have managed to eat pretty well and get in control of my eating habits, I could all-too-easily backslide when something difficult occurred. I could normally pull myself out of the cheese fry rabbit hole in just a few days, but it still happened on occasion. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to stick to such a strict diet. I was petrified that I was going to let my body down and fail, fail, fail, only to end up sick and miserable and hangry with myself.


After a good 5 days in perpetual pity-party mode, I finally decided to get to sibo12work. I bought the SCD book (Breaking the Vicious Cycle) and read it cover to cover. I went shopping and spent a boatload on healthy food and everything I would need for the “intro” diet. The diet restricts SO much. No dairy, no grains, no wheat or gluten, no alcohol (at least for quite awhile), no chocolate, no FUN. To make matter worse, because I had to combine the two diets, the low fodmap portion required extreme limitations of fruits and vegetables, too. For the first several months, I had to cook all veggies (many for 4 hours and then puree them like baby food) and make certain they were skinned and deseeded before consuming. This is all incredibly time consuming. The first few days on the intro diet were spent only eating chicken broth, jello, and pureed carrots and beef patties. I was very ill while on the intro and drastically dropped weight off my already thin frame.


After going off the intro, you slowly start to introduce other foods. You have to go very slowly, as to ascertain your reaction. You introduce a new food (even something as small as a new herb or spice!) every 2-4 days. My first banana on day 5 was so exciting I thought I would cry. I gradually introduced eggs and cooked bananas, then turkey, a few spices and herbs, and almond milk. I began to feel better as I added more foods, but only emotionally, because I was feeling more like normal person. I really wasn’t feeling that much better physically. Plus, all of the food prep was, no joke, like a part-time job. My symptoms persisted, and every week I went to my doctor frustrated and sad. We added more supplements, we added weekly acupuncture. I took an allergy test and eliminated even more foods that came back as a problem for me (eggs, bananas, blueberries, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, peanuts, coffee, certain teas, etc.) We added B12 shots, which were the ONLY thing that I can say truly changed how I felt. I immediately saw my energy improve and was able to run and lift weights without being crazy exhausted afterward.


Fast forward nearly 9 weeks. I stormed into my acupuncture appointment pissed off. I was frustrated and sad and felt like I was doing virtually everything exactly as I was supposed to…no cheating at all, no skipping of treatments or pills, yet my symptoms hadn’t changed. I’d had two rounds of Xifaxin (14 days) and then 5 weeks of herbal antibiotics (Berberine, ADP) without much change. I burst into tears in her office and told her I needed to take control. I needed something drastic. I would have been willing to drink the blood of a snake if it meant I would see some results.¬†'It's time for drastic measures - I'm taking you off food and putting you on chew toys.'That’s when she floated the idea of the elemental diet.

The elemental is a solution that they use to keep feeding tube patients alive. It’s a mixture of proteins and carbohydrates that provide enough calories to keep you around, while simultaneously starving the bacteria in the small intestine. It’s incredibly difficult because you cannot eat A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G for 3 weeks. Not a morsel. You drink this (incredibly nasty) solution as your meals and hope and pray that the little assholes in your intestines starve to death and leave your body for good. It sounded awful, and I was scared and nervous, but the choice was clear. I looked her in the eye and said, “SOLD. I will do it.” She said, “I knew you would. ¬†You’re one of the most determined patients I’ve ever had, and I only let my really committed patients try something so hard.” Yes madam, feed my ego, because I will be feeding nothing else for quite awhile.


sibo14I ordered the solution (Vivonex T.E.N.), and here we are (to the left, my reaction when the solution arrived in the mail, as accurately represented by my cat, Hammy). ¬†ūüėõ Presently, I am a measly five days into the wretched diet, with sixteen more to go (It is depressing as hell to type that out). I’ll outline my daily reactions below and post every once in awhile for you to read, because as I’ve come to this diagnosis, I’ve also gotten lots of good support and info from a few online facebook groups and there are a few people that want to follow my elemental journey. I WILL figure this thing out. I hope. Sorry for the sad novella, but if you think you have these symptoms (and others outlined in the website I posted above!) DEMAND that you get tested (the test is a very simple at-home or in-clinic breath test measuring hydrogen and methane and costs about $150 USD). Many doctors are simply very uneducated about SIBO, and they throw you in the “You have IBS” category. While SIBO could most definitely cause IBS (or the reverse) stats have shown that nearly FIFTY PERCENT of IBS sufferers also have SIBO. Those are big numbers. And treatments for the two vary wildly, so you really want to know what you’re addressing. And lastly, I’m always here for questions. I really wish I’d had someone to help and guide me through this process a little better. It’s an emotional and physical spiral that takes immense patience and commitment. But hey – things could be MUCH worse. This isn’t a life-threatening illness. This is a first-world illness.sibo15¬†Not to say that those in other countries don’t have SIBO (they inevitably do) but many others who are not as privileged as we are have bigger, more pressing problems. I am fortunate enough to not only be able to figure this out through a good doctor, but to be able to afford to treat it and to do everything I can to get my body back to where it needs to be. When I get REALLY down, I try to keep that perspective. I hope those of you that are suffering do, too.


I woke up today almost feeling excited. Stupid ass. I perkily put my concoction together and when it was mixed, I dipped a finger in to taste it. I was warned that the taste was horrific. “It doesn’t seem¬†that bad,” I thought as I tasted the two drops on my finger. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaaha. Ohhhh stupid child. Oh little dreamer. I took a giant swig of my first drink and nearly vomited. Yes. It’s THAT bad. I learned to drink it through a straw by placing the straw on the back of my tongue to avoid my tastebuds. I also take a big sniff of coffee by sticking my nose in the coffee bag while drinking, because the smell is almost as foul as the taste. I feared I would feel AWFUL, like I had in the past when I’d attempted juice cleanses. I’d wanted to die on those cleanses because I was so miserable. The last one I did, I was literally dreaming about cheeseburgers. But even though this is liquid, it’s far more calories than a juice fast would provide, so I’ve discovered that really helps. I felt more tired than usual, but not terribly so and not super lethargic. I decided not to run for the first several days, as I am already thin and didn’t want to lose more weight than necessary. By the fourth and last drink of the day, I had to choke it down. I also added coconut oil and salt to the last two drinks (as advised by my doctor), hoping against hope that it would help negate the taste a bit. It did not.


I woke up and rushed to the mirror to assess my bloat. Still there. Still looking like a preggo. I dejectedly went to the kitchen to make my first shit shake drink. The second day was much like the first. A little low energy, but not hugely so. My mood was a little lower than normal, as I found myself picking a rather silly fight with Joe, only to sheepishly say after about 10 minutes…”Um, I’m sorry. I think I just want to eat.” He just nodded solemnly. ¬†The boy is not a dummy. He knows when to be quiet. I slept crazy hard that night, almost 11 hours. Which is good…sadly if I could sleep away the next 3 weeks, I probably would.


Today was about the same, maybe a little harder. I had slight headaches on and off and I cannot tell if this is from “die-off” or from lack of calories. They weren’t terrible, however. My mood was a little on the low side as well. Bloating was, disappointingly, the same. The only difference was that I started to get nauseous around 4pm. It only lasted a few hours and it was quite mild. I used only 3 packets this day instead of four, trying to test it out. Perhaps that is why? The last shake of the day is always the worst. I dread it like the revolting asshat that it is. Joe has been very sweet, but his food smelled soooo delicious tonight. I locked myself in the bedroom while he ate. Surprisingly, my cravings are not super intense, but smelling food is hard because you just intuitively want to eat. This is like asking someone to get the BARE MINIMUM of sleep required to function on the most basic level. Sure, you’re still sleeping, but you’re feeling constantly deprived and tired. And irritable, and cranky-pants, and probably “mean as socks for Christmas.” ¬†ūüôā


sibo16Finished off my first box today! ¬†(this is me trying to be stoked) ¬†Only 7 more to go. Dear GOD that’s upsetting in print. I felt slightly less bloated this morning. I was prancing around showing Joe my belly and singing it’s less-bloated praises, but after my first drink it was back. Suckered again. The weekends seem a little tougher. For the past decade, I have eaten super well during the week and then let myself relax more (diet-wise) with food on the weekends. So I still associate weekends with “fun” eating like Indian food and beer and gluten-free pizza. The idiots at Vivonex should make a pizza-flavored drink. They would make a fortune and waaaay more people would do this. You’re welcome, Vivonex. Try not being so bitterly disgusting if you want to move products. I’ve noticed that I tend to feel happier and more positive in the mornings when I have my first shake. By the time I get to the last one I’m sad and depressed and feeling more scared that this isn’t going to work. I don’t know if the ingredients in the drink are activating my crazy, or if by the end of the day I am just more hungry. Either way, it kinda blows. I keep looking ahead to double digits, and how proud I will be to be on Day 10, 11, 12…


I REALLY feel like it should be day 10 or 11 at this point. It hasn’t been as bad as I expected, so there’s that…but it feels like a long-ass five days. I’m ready for the double digits, yo! I started out the morning poorly by observing that my bloat is still there and then while making my shake, didn’t place the top on the shaker cup correctly, and threw that god-awful solution all OVER myself, the cat, and the kitchen. Right on. It smelled so bad that we had to bathe the cat. She looked horrified and was constantly trying to outrun the smell on her (which…okay…was pretty funny). The thing that is freaking me out the most is that I’ve had virtually ZERO die-off. Almost every person that has done this has reported major flu-like symptoms, which sound horrible but at least indicate that it is working. I feel fine. I just want a burrito. I am going to try to go for a short run tomorrow, and I’m excited. I miss it. We went to the park and walked 4 miles yesterday. It felt good to get out of Hermitville, where I seem to have taken up permanent residence. I also tried to drink my afternoon “lunch” at room temperature, since I read that it is supposed to help bloating. Take it from me: DON’T. Just don’t. Horribly, viciously awful. I have also noticed the slightest bit of kidney pain I think that’s what it is, anyway, as I have a weird (albeit light) burning sensation in my lower back sometimes. I’ll keep an eye on it. Onward!

That’s it so far, folks! ¬†I’ll keep updating and will post every now and then if you’re interested. ¬†ūüôā

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