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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

blog27

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

blog28

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!

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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

blog32

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!

 

Instagram


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

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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.

hormone1
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.


hormone3
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.  


2)
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.


1)
Diet:
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!)


2)
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.  ‚̧

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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

moleblog1

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.

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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

moleblog7

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.

 

moleblog14

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.


moleblog18
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

moleblog20

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

moleblog21


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.

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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

moleblog28

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!

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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!”

 

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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

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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

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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!

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Let’s not beat around the bush, ok?  My life is absolutely crazy.  

 

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Pre-surgery! #byebyeoscar #ovaryfarewelltour

The last time I wrote, I was just about to have surgery to have my left Ovary (Oscar) and Fallopian tube removed, due to a large tumor that was found via ultrasound and MRI (see previous entry here for details on Oscar the Ovary). The surgery went splendidly (not that I remember any of it as I was passed out drooling on the surgical table) and the surgeon assured us it was quite textbook.  I awoke in recovery feeling super sore and groggy, while they pumped me full of happy drugs.  I wasn’t in nearly as much pain as I anticipated, and being that I was massively worried that I was, indeed, a GIANT baby and super wussy about pain, I was relieved.  Joe came in and explained that the Doc had to run into another surgery, but that the surgery went well, though the tumor was much larger than they initially thought. He held up his hands to demonstrate its giant Oscar-y size, and compared it to the size of a “deflated football” (cue Tom Brady pun).  No wonder I was so damn bloated.  Oscar was playing a freaking football game in there.  Asshole.


The surgeon had performed a frozen biopsy during surgery to assess if the

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Post-surgery. All smiles because of glorious pain meds.

mass was cancerous or not.  The biopsy came back benign and Joe and I were both happy and relieved.  The nurses got me sitting up and more alert and ready to head home.  They put me in some giant diaper-looking shorts (yeah…watch out fellas, purrrrrrrrr) and wheeled me down to the car. The first night was actually probably the easiest.  I was totally doped up on Oxy and Percocet, and drifted into a dark, dreamless sleep, wondering why they didn’t send me home with pictures of Oscar.  I mean, it’s not like I wanted to display him in a jar on my mantle…but I wanted to at least see what the bastard looked like.  


The next few days were a little tougher, but all in all, a super easy recovery. Many people warned me that recovery would be super hard, but it was surprisingly very simple.  I’d cooked up a storm the week prior, so I had healthy food just waiting to be heated for me.  Joe took the week off to help take care of me, and we played cards and games and watched ALOT of cancerblog3Netflix.  I had all of these dreams and visions of writing and taking online sign language classes and instead I stayed in bed, propped up on pillows watching Switched at Birth (I have a thing for wholesome family dramas…again, don’t judge me).  The 3rd and 4th days I hobbled around a little more, even going for a walk around the block after dinner.  The worst part was being bed-ridden.  I don’t do so well with that.  I am an active person and being in bed for several days was painfully boring.  The

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My lil sis came over to play games with me. She had her beer, I had mah pain meds. ūüôā

pain meds were funny.  For some reason, they really wouldn’t “hit” me until I ate some food. Then…WHAM!  I was high as a little Katie kite.  It was quite fun from what I can recall.  I remember trying to write a blog one night and thinking that I had never been funnier, had never been wittier, and when I read it (soberly) the next day, I died laughing.  And not because of my amazing wit. Because it was like a drunk 7 year old with a learning disability had written it.


By the 5th day I had started to ween myself off pain meds (they’re extremely cancerblog4bad for motility and thus, bad for SIBO…and I did NOT go through all of this shit this year to bring SIBO back in just 5 days). I was still taking them at night, when my pain was at its worst (from moving around all day).  My incisions were gross: 1 on each side and 1 raw, disgusting belly button, and my belly puffy and swollen, but I applied comfrey cream each night and did a castor oil pack for inflammation every day as well.  I also took curcumin, which is supposed to help with tissue regeneration and swelling (good to know if you have any kind of surgical procedure looming!). Anyway, on the 5th night, I had my first venture out into the world again. Joe came home and I was so chatty and irritating he told me that I desperately needed to get out of the house.  He announced we were going to PetSmart. “Sweet!  Let me just pop my pain med real quick!”  We went to PetSmart to pick up litter and kitty food, when…lo and behold, I saw it.  A

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I mean. Best. Thing. EVER.

green, sequined, mermaid kitty costume. “OHHHHHMYGOD!” I exclaimed. “PUHHHLEASE can we get this? PUHLEASE?!?!”  Yes, I was on drugs.  Joe looked doubtful.  “Don’t make me play the surgery card,” I warned. Joe laughed and said, “You’re high and she will hate that.”  To which I replied, “But this green color will really pop against her fur!”  Joe raised his eyebrows.  “Enough Project Runway for you, babe.”  We bought the amazingness and I got many hours of joy out of it.  TOTALLY worth $6.99, kids. Every damn penny.  


I improved more and more every day and walked just a little bit further every day as well.  The first time I walked 2 miles (7 days after surgery) I was so proud!  It’s a funny thing to go from distance running to slowly walking 2 miles.  One thing I noticed right away is that the huge lower bloating was

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Crazy before and after Oscar extraction!

mostly just…GONE. My baby belly had vanished!  It was that F#&$ING Oscar all along (since clearing SIBO, anyway). That rat bastard.  Here I am, taking every supplement known to man and agonizing over which food is causing this swelling and WHY OH WHY is the bloat not gone now that SIBO is gone?!?!?! and all of this time it was a freaking tumor.  Of course.  Because that is just how my life has decided to go.  ūüėõ


Two weeks go by and I’m feeling better and better and walking every day. I’m cooking again and healing and feeling super optimistic-and-rosy-sunshin-y that my health woes are slowly starting to sort themselves out.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve remained diligent, and now I will be rewarded with better health, right? Hahahahahaha ohhhhh dear little optimistic idiot…nope!


I go to see my doctor for my two-week post-surgical follow-up.  I feel I should note that I had to wait over 2 hours to see him.  I good-naturedly cancerblog6really didn’t even mind waiting.  I had my book, and I kept telling myself, “This wait is a good sign.  It means your doctor is taking time to sit and talk with patients and answer their questions thoroughly.”  I even posted on facebook about it, assuring myself that if I was patient, it would come back to me in a good way.  But again, nope!  The good-natured moron strikes again!  


I’m shuffled into an exam room where I wait another 20 minutes.  The oncologist swoops in, very quickly checks my incisions, states that I am healing at a “speed-of-light” rate (das’ right doc, over achiever right cheeere) and then drops a big ole bomb.  Allow me to properly set the stage…

***DOC WOOSHES IN***


DOC: Aloha!  How are we feeling?

ME: Good!  The recovery has been very easy, no real troubles.  My incisions are healing nicely.  
DOC: (inspects my incisions) Wow, those are healing super fast!  It seems you are healing at a speed-of-light rate!  Well, as it happens, it’s a super good thing we took out the tumor, as it turns out it was a Granulosa Cell Carcinoma.  So it’s lucky you made the decision to take out the entire ovary and fallopian tube, because…

ME: Um hold UP a sec. (I blink at him for a moment).  Carcinoma?  Are…are you saying that I have cancer?
DOC: Yes.  Well (clears throat) I’m saying that I think you did  have cancer, but I’m optimistic that we got it out.  
ME: Um. Uhhhhh, ok.  But you told me after surgery that the tumor was benign?  
DOC: Yes, the frozen biosy we did in the middle of surgery came back negative, but we also send samples out to other labs that do a more thorough analysis.  This is when we found that it was, indeed, a carcinoma.  
Your tumor was very large and it’s likely it was highly estrogen-producing, which is why I think you haven’t had a menstrual cycle in 15 months.  I think that now the tumor has been removed, your cycle will continue.  I will see you in three weeks.  If you haven’t had a period by then, we will take further steps.
ME:  Further steps?
DOC: Yes.  If you haven’t, we will need to do another ultrasound and perhaps a biospy because this particular cancer has a tendency to spread to endometrial cancer, so we will want to closely monitor that.  
ME: Ummmmm, errrrrrrr, ok then. What about the right ovary?  Should we be concerned at all that it has cysts as well?  
DOC: (smiles like a f*cking maniac) No.  Not at this point.  We’ll keep an eye on it but there is no need for concern.  You still have PCOS and are likely to always have cysts.  Ok, sound good?  I’ll see you in three weeks!  
ME:  Er, Ok.  Thanks doc! (I chirped this out like a complete idiot…like the man did not just tell me I have cancer and then try to shove me out the door not-so-subtely).
DOC: No problem at all.  See you soon!  *Exits


cancerblog7I walked out the door, wondering numbly what had just happened. Once I got down to the street to walk home, I began thinking, “WTF is wrong with me? Why didn’t I ask questions?  WTF is wrong with him, oh-so-casually mentioning I have (had) cancer?!?!  Why didn’t he give me even 30 seconds to just absorb the information and gather myself so I could ask questions?”  I promptly called my husband and couldn’t answer any of his very valid questions.  I felt like the moron of the century.  I immediately texted my ND, who I’ve seen so often through this health storm that I swear we’re becoming actual friends, and she replied immediately, “Oh wow.  Ok.  Give me 24 hours to do some hard core research and I’ll see you on Thursday.  Don’t stress, we’ll make a gameplan together and I’ll consult with your oncologist and get more information.”  I was thankful and relieved.  I assumed she would get more info outta him than I would.  


So, cancer.  CANCER?!?!?!  Really universe?  I mean for serious?!?!?!?  


I didn’t exactly freak out for some reason.  Maybe it was the way the doc so cheerfully delivered the news that something creepy had been growing inside my body, but I was ok.  I think he was probably just trying to manage mycancerblog8 reaction.  I wish I had had the forethought to say, “Look man, I’m not a really reactive person.  I’m not going to freak out, or sob, I just need you to give me a minute to process this and to answer my questions.”  But really, if ever there WERE a time to freak, it would be when the C-bomb is dropped like it’s hot. However, I just sat there like a damn deer in headlights that has cancer.  


I got home and called two of my sisters in a conference call.  The first thing my oldest sister said was, “Whoa.  WTF?  Well, I just want you to know…I will NOT be shaving my head in solidarity.”  Hahahahahahaha.  They’re assholes. But they’re funny assholes.  They made me laugh.  And yes, sister, if it ever came to that, you WOULD be shaving your f*cking head in solidarity. Because I will get you hammered on wine, wait until you pass out, and then sneak into your bedroom and shave your damn head.  You bettah believe it.  


I did a little research on Granulosa Cell Carcinoma, but I had to limit it because I knew so little.  I had no idea what stage I was in, how large thecancerblog9 tumor was in size exactly, and I wondered how thorough the surgeon had been.  He had told me many times that he was doubtful it was cancer, so the thought kept coming up: you don’t find what you’re not looking for.  How sure was he that he had “gotten it all?”  


I went to meet my trusty ND a few days later.  She was great as always.  She had printed out several articles for me and was armed with info.  She had gotten the biopsy report and surgeon’s notes and though she hadn’t been able to speak to the surgeon directly yet, she said she would hunt him down and talk to him.  In the meantime, I had made another appointment with another oncologist/gynocologist for a 2nd opinion.  A gyno friend in Honolulu had given me the name of another person she trusted (and also actually assured me that my original surgeon was the best on island, so while his bedside manner was not stellar, as least his surgical skills are known to be!).  I learned cancerblog10that Ovarian Granulosa Cell Carcinoma is a very rare cancer (less than 2-3% of all cancers…why am I always getting some shit no one’s ever heard of before? SIBO? Pylori? Now this?!?!?!  :P).  Of course it is.  It is most often seen in women over 45, non-white women, and women with ovarian cancer in their families. None of which I have/am.  Again, of course. Because it is a rare cancer, there isn’t a ton of research on treatment/protocols/survival rates.  Some, but not a lot. My ND was insistent that I get the endometrial biopsy regardless of whether or not I start to menstruate again, which I agree with.  The peace of mind would be welcome. We also agreed to start me on natural chemotherapy as a preventative measure (which basically involves very high doses of IV Vitamin C…many lyme patients actually use this protocol so some of you may be familiar with it).  She also informed me that according to the biopsy report, the entire mass was about 17cm, and the cancerous tumor was about 12cm. HUGE!  Gross.  She also delivered the good news that I am officially a stage 1A.  Oh hells yeah.  Can’t beat that!  I’m a cancer overachiever, ya’ll!  She gave me a lot of stuff to read and told me not to let the doctors intimidate me.  Doctors can be domineering, ego-centric, and cancer is scary, so the combination often results in deer-in-headlights-with-cancer syndrome, but she warned me to be aggressive.  “They work for YOU,” she told me.  


So, there you have it.  My update is not at ALL what I imagined it to be.  It’s kind of funny, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking/reading/pondering about

'The problem is I can't tell the difference between a deeply wise, intuitive nudge from the Universe and one of my own bone-headed ideas!'

‘The problem is I can’t tell the difference between a deeply wise, intuitive nudge from the Universe and one of my own bone-headed ideas!’

intuition…leaning into it, listening to it, learning to rely on it a little harder. But I often joke that my intuition is broken.  It’s ALWAYS wrong.  If my small intestine is the slow kid in class, my intuition is the overly-confident loudmouth that sits in the back shouting the wrong answers.  I was SO SURE that this wasn’t cancerous.  I confidently told everyone this.  Now who’s the dumbass with cancer?  I need to just listen to my gut and then do the complete opposite of whatever it tells me.


Okay, back to SIBO (but actually, this next part applies to a new cancer diagnosis, too…however I’ll use SIBO for examples).  During this whole surgical process, I was super afraid it would bring back SIBO symptoms.  I know, I know, a chick with cancer shouldn’t really be that concerned, but I think I’ve been hyper-focused on it because it feels like something I have a little more control over.  I had ALOT of time to think and be online during this recovery time.  I commented on every post anyone ever made on facebook. I’m sure everyone loved that. You’re welcome. It got me thinking more about what I alluded to on my last post.  When you get a chronic illness, your life drastically and immediately changes.  It’s a SERIOUS adjustment.  As such, it’s really interesting and important to allow yourself to move through the grieving process.  We’ve all heard of the steps of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  My stages of grief are usually: Eat body weight in pizza and chocolate (denial); pick a fight with my husband for no apparent reason (anger); decide to give up pizza binging ONLY if I’m still allowed wine (bargaining); cry intensely while watching something like Grey’s Anatomy (depression); and finally wake up one day, start a damn diet, exercise, start a blog to bitch publicly about my woes, and take every supplement ever created (acceptance).  I see it often in the forums. What it looks like:


Denial and Isolation: “I don’t believe I have to stop eating ____ because ____” OR “I refuse to give up ____ because I’ve eaten it my whole life so how can I be reacting to it suddenly?!?”  I believe denial to be a very key part in the grieving process.  It’s a self-protection thing; not looking at what we really have to face because we’re not ready.  I often like to set up camp here and hang out until someone smacks me in the face with reality, which I find very irritating indeed. Another interesting part about denial is how we pull others into it. Meaning, sometimes we can’t face the truth and we try to ask others for their opinion. We pull people in that we know are emotionally or socially invested (friends, family, others with our same illness) to help keep our delusions.  We tell them to be “brutally honest” but they often cannot.  They will tell you what they think you want to hear or what they personally wish to believe because they are emotionally and fervidly invested in us and care about us.  Their own emotional attachment clouds their vision as well, as we sweep them up in our denial and make them play our denial-filled game.  ūüôā Isolation is sometimes used by social workers in conjunction with the denial stage.  This reason is clear, right?  We isolate because we don’t want anyone else to break our denial.  I don’t WANT to leave my house bubble of pizza and Gilmore Girls because someone might actually try to tell me that eating pizza 6 meals a day isn’t good for a digestive condition.  


Anger: “I am so sick of this shit!  I will not be on this strict diet anymore!” OR “Everyone in this forum is wrong and I’m pissed so I’m going to take it out on everyone and everything around me, including getting completely furious and taking things out of context that I normally wouldn’t! RAWWWWR!” Anger will manifest itself in so many ways, won’t it?  Anger at our loved ones for not “getting” it, anger at our friends for not respecting our dietary restrictions, angry at all of the people around us happily munching away on pasta and pizza without a care in the world, anger at ourselves for not taking our health seriously or taking things for granted before we got sick…sigh.  Anger is one of the easiest emotions to go to.  Getting furious is a way of channeling pent-up energy.  It’s a way of making sense of some of the grief you’re feeling.  Even if you have the presence of mind to realize that your anger is illogical or WAY out of proportion with the situation, it’s still an easier go-to than sadness.  My husband and I have a joke about the anger stage.  He calls it my “Bouts of Aggression stage” (aka BOA, as in, “You’re having a BOA right now”).  I’ll get super worked up about something and I’ll look at him and his eyes are big as saucers and he looks scared.  BOA.  Anger too, is a protective stage.  And, when you are facing an unjust loss, it’s natural to feel angry about it.  One of my favorite professors from Grad School, whom I’ve quoted on here before, always said, “Feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are. ” I love that, and try to remember it when someone else’s feelings don’t make sense to me.  


Bargaining:  In the movies, people in this stage are always making deals with God…of the “I promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life if you’ll only…” variety.  In real life, bargaining takes on so many different forms.  “If I give up milk, I can still have sugar.”  OR “I know exercise is important but I don’t feel well.  If I don’t exercise but stick to the diet strictly, it evens itself out, right?” With SIBO, other than denial, this is the stage I see most often. Probably because it’s so glaringly apparent.  ūüėõ Bargaining statements also often come in the form of “what ifs” and “if onlys.” We might even try to bargain with pain or with the past.  We get so desperate that we will do anything not to feel more pain or loss.  So we choose to dwell on the past, trying to negotiate our way out of our present situation, as if we can step into a time machine and change our past decisions. It’s important to note that bargaining is often a reaction to feeling helpless or scared or vulnerable and is sometimes used as a means to gain back power and control.  We bargain and beg with the SIBO gods (or devils…lets face it, those assholes are probably devils and demons) in an effort to feel like we actually have some kind of control over the outcome.  


Depression:  “I want to die.”  OR “I can’t imagine anything being harder than this.”  OR “No one understands and I just want to give up and I don’t care what happens.”  The depression stage is a DOOZY and is often the one people get most stuck in.  While often we oscillate between stages, it is common for depression to last the longest.  It’s the catastrophizing stage, the stage in which we lose perspective.  If you are thinking to yourself while reading this, “NO! YOU just don’t get how horrible this is for ME!” then I challenge you to do some deep thinking and soul-searching.  Is this the worst it could ever be? You might feel the worst you have ever felt, but do you have people in your life that you love?  Do you have a roof over your head and disgusting SIBO food in your belly?  Because if you have those two simple things, you are MILES above many people in the world.  This isn’t meant to shame you. Depression is also an important stage and one that everyone (me, too!) has to move through.  It’s important to emphasize that the depression stage is not a mental illness.  While therapy can help and is indeed suggested by this social worker, the depression stage is the appropriate response to a loss.  We are grieving the loss of our old life, of our old way of being.  It’s hard.  We’re left with intense sadness we don’t know what to do with.  So let yourself feel it, try not to chastise yourself for being sad or for catastrophizing, but also, don’t move into depressionville and set up shop.  For one thing, most people in your life cannot handle it and you will end up even more isolated than ever. And for another thing, it’s a terrible way to live.  Give yourself full permission to grieve, and then give yourself full permission to let go and move forward, because you’re better and stronger than the depressed version of yourself. You’re YOU, and you’re a one of a kind…a damn snowflake or some shit.  


Acceptance:  Ah, the holy grail!  You’re here!  You made it! Everything’s gonna be ok!  Wellll not entirely.  That is why acceptance is still a stage, instead of a state of being.  Most people are not ever going to feel 100% ok with a significant loss.  There will be times in which you’re still pissed that you can’t find something to eat, times when you’re still a little down, times you may decide to regress to bargaining because you realize a new food is actually bothering you.  Acceptance is about learning to adjust to the reality that this is your new permanent reality.  We may never love this reality, but we can learn to live with it and accept it.  This new lifestyle becomes our new norm.  The inclination is to sometimes try to live our old normal life as it was pre-diagnosis, but through time and acceptance, we learn that we must adjust.  Our lives have been forever changed and we must learn to adapt by reorganizing certain aspects of our lives.  Acceptance might simply boil down to just having more good days than bad.  And that’s ok.  Those good days will slowly increase.  


This all might seem quite obvious to you, but I think for many, we don’t realize when starting out what a long haul this is going to be.  Many seem to think they’ll pop a few antibiotics and poof!  They’ll be cured!  People even seem overwhelmingly desperate to get those antibiotics (which in some cases can be hard – some insurance companies don’t cover it and some docs refuse to prescribe them).  And I’m sorry to tell you, but antibiotics are not the key to this illness.  If they were, we’d all be better.  Unfortunately many doctors don’t help, as they tend to downplay or flat our refuse that some digestive issues exist at all.  The point is, while punching SIBO in the junk is absolutely possible (and encouraged!) it can take quite a while.  And understanding and accepting where you are in the grieving process can help you cope.  Don’t beat yourself up, feel your feelings. It’s not fun to be chained to your toilet (but thank God for the cancerblog12internet, right? Don’t even ACT like you don’t do it!), it’s unfair that others can eat whatever they desire, it’s frustrating that even healthy foods and a strict diet hurts your belly. And while I always want you to be true to your feelings, I also want to encourage you to keep perspective. You know what’s hilarious?  I always used to say, “SIBO sucks, but at least it’s not cancer.”  Hahahaha whoopsie!  (See?  My ridiculously dumbass intution really had NO idea).  Lastly, try not to expect everyone else around you to “get”it.  Humans are flawed and often can’t quite empathize until they go through something similar.  Accept where you are, then try to move forward. You can do it.  ūüôā


I want to thank you for reading.  I want to thank you for your amazing support, kind words, hilarious jokes, kicks in the ass when needed, and my fellow SIBO partners for befriending me, helping to guide me, and challenging me to just keep going.  Imma working on my Recipe page and will have 6-7 new recipes coming your way soon!  Also, if you’re new to the blog and new to a SIBO diagnosis, check out my SIBO Guide page for some guidance on good resources.  If you have questions about H. Pylori, the Elemental (there are actually 4 entries on this!), or how I came to decide on the Fast Tract Diet, scroll and read or click the highlighted links for more info.


Until next time, aloha!  ūüôā

cancerblog14

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

ovary
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

ovary7

#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.

ovary8


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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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#byebyeoscar #ovaryfarewelltour

Aloha from SIBO world! ¬†Not to be confused with sea world…though I do sort of have¬†whale¬†belly sometimes. ¬†I am 12 days off the elemental diet and into eating REAL FOOD!!!! ¬†It’s been a very interesting transition. ¬†As usual, you can read the first installment here, the 2nd installment right cheeeeere, the 3rd installment hurrrrr and the most recent (other than this one) here. I awoke my first day off of the elemental, sooo excited to shove food into my gullet. Like…SO. EXCITED. ¬†I got up early and started cooking my meat broth. ¬†It smelled so gloriously decadent while simmering on the stove. ¬†I cannot even tell you. ¬†I had only broth at first and it tasted like a warm hug; salty, herb-y, and delicious. ¬†My stomach immediately (within about 20 minutes) reacted, but that was to be expected. ¬†I’m sure my digestive system was like, “Whoooooa now, what’s goin’ on here?!?! ¬†We were used to that stinky fart drink garbage you’ve been guzzling! ¬†Now we have to remember how to process this…”


After the first meal, I added a little bit of shredded chicken to the next bowl of broth. ¬†I continued eating only broth and chicken for the first day. ¬†The next day was mostly broth and chickenftblog1 again, with a little more chickeny-chicken. ¬†I then slowly added back pureed carrots and pureed butternut squash, then red meat, then a little cheese (starting with dry curd cottage cheese, otherwise called DCCC), then a few more roasted veggies (all veggies deseeded and skinned). It was funny because once I started eating, I didn’t want to stop. ¬†I WANTED TO EAT ALL OF THE THINGS!!! ¬†I swear I could have holed up in my house for a week just eating non-stop. ¬†But I tried really hard to hold back.


I had decided to combine several aspects of several diets. ¬†The Fast Tract Digestion Diet¬†(FTD),¬†SCD, and low fodmaps. ¬†Well, that lasted about 3 days. ¬†Trying to combine all 3 was not only miserably limiting, but damn near impossible. ¬†So while I had visions of being able to ftblog2seamlessly meld these, it quickly became clear that I am an idiot and that was impossible. Certain aspects of the diets are in direct opposition to one another. For example, an orange is considered low fodmap, so yay! ¬†But an orange is considered high in fermentation potential on the FTD, so boo. ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†Conversely, watermelon is considered high fodmap and is a no-no, but on the FTD it has the lowest fermentation potential of all fruit so it is considered the safest. ¬†WTF? What’s a girl to do? ¬†I’m running out of food options here! ¬†That air diet above is looking more and more likely…


It was then that I decided to hell with it, I was going to give the FTD¬†a sincere chance. ¬†I had done SCD + low fodmaps after all for over 2.5 months with very little results. ¬†Why not try something new and a diet that was created specifically for the little SIBO assholes? ¬†So, I immediately threw all of my combining research out of the window (actually, in a moment of pure hatred and frustration I threw it on the floor, stomped on it, and then threw it in the recycling…and no, I am NOT kidding) and decided to work with the FTD.

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Allll my charty-charts for FP values!


Sooo the Fast Tract Diet¬†in a little bloggy nutshell? ¬†The diet is a quantitative approach to gut health (meaning, it is numbers-driven). Like the low fodmap diet (the most common suggestion for SIBO sufferers), it limits lactose, sugar, fiber, fructose, and resistant starch in an effort to reduce foods’ intestinal fermentation potential. ¬†We ingest foods with high starch, fiber, sugar, lactose, etc. and it sits in the intestine, fermenting. These foods are harder for our bodies to process and break down, giving them time to ferment and feed pesky bacteria shitheads that make us all miserable human SIBO zombies. ¬†The point of the diet plan is to limit these foods that have high fermentation potential (FP) so that we can more easily digest what we consume, leading to an ease of SIBO symptoms. ¬†The author, Norm Robillard, specifically addresses SIBO over and over again in book, which was a relief after reading Breaking the Vicious Cycle (the SCD food guide), which not once discusses SIBO. ¬†The book has a total of 15 different food charts so that

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All my many food charts!!!

you are able to calculate your individual food’s fermentation potential. The ideal is to have as low an FP per day as possible. This is where it gets tricky for many people, including yours truly. ¬†I hate to be the stereotypical girl that is terrible at math (because that is a dumbass stereotype with absolutely NO merit!) but math = YIKES in Katie-land! ¬†And not because I’m a chick. ¬†Shit people, I can barely add and subtract. And we’re talking algebra, here! ¬†But honestly, once you get the formula down, it’s easy-peasy…even for a math moron like myself. The trick is to not let yourself be intimidated by it, as it’s sort of a lot of work at first. ¬†You must weigh your food by using a food scale to get the correct serving size to calculate the FP. ¬†This is annoying at first, and I was a little forgetful at times (brain fog, anyone?), but after a while, I started making my own charts of foods that I eat regularly, and it became a much quicker process. ¬†And you have to be diligent about writing down your every food particle. ***EDIT: Since writing this blog, an FTD app has come out that has made my life soooo much easier! It has an FP calculator and allows you to search and save foods (and their FPs) that you eat regularly. So read the book AND be sure to get the app for a much easier go of it.*** Shout-out to Norm…your book is amazing and I am seeing great results thus far…thank you and mahalo for your diligence and expertise! ¬†If you want to read a little more about the diet and compare it to other common SIBO diets like SCD, low fodmaps, and Paleo, click¬†here¬†to learn about it from the Digestive Health Institute website.¬† (where there is a ton of useful information!). ¬†Also, for a Q&A with the author about fodmap versus FTD, click here. ¬†


One thing about the FTD gave me great pause, and well, I’ll just say it (you all have never known me to hold back anyway, right?) suspicion. ¬†Many of the foods in the charts are processed foods. ¬†Even the FP of diet soda is listed! ¬†At first this bothered me greatly. ¬†I’m not a certified nutritionist, but I have worked long and hard to educate myself about food and I know that many of these foods are not healthy. ¬†Should I be taking the advice of a person that tells me the FP of wonderbread and Snickers?!?!?! ¬†However, eventually I came to the¬†conclusion that this book is written for the masses, and that (sadly) most Americans eat a heavily processed, poor-nutrition diet. And as such, many have IBS. ¬†And if those people don’t want to make a major life-style change (because so many people resist), the author gives them a way to eat certain foods that will aggravate their symptoms less. ¬†For dis’ girl though…I’ll be eating only real, healthy foods. ¬†You won’t see diet soda or wonderbread in my vocab (you will see chocolate occasionally though, which is far more exciting, anyway!), but I do think I understand better why the author made this choice.


How am I doing you want to know? ¬†Well, thanks for asking! ¬†Guys, you know you’re gonna get honesty here! ¬†I’m doing really well. ¬†The elemental, I am coming to realize, gave me far more healing than I originally thought upon completion. ¬†After that initial digestion trouble over my first meal, everything has been much improved. Not perfect, not totally healed, but greatly improved. ¬†Totally normal ftblog7BMs…I’m talkin’ normal poo!!!! For dayssssss!!!! ¬†I know it’s sad that I am this excited about poop, but this is my life now. ¬†I’ve had virtually zero pain and my bloating, while still there, has decreased. I even ate out for the first time in nearly 5 months at the Hawai’i Book and

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I’m eating out! IN public!

Music Festival. ¬†It was only a grass-fed, no-hormone, plain burger with swiss cheese, but it was TERRIBLY exciting! I felt like a normal person for a hot second! Several people have asked me if I believe it was the elemental or the Fast Tract Diet that has brought me so much relief. Well, I have no idea. That is a very chicken-or-the-egg question, isn’t it? I guess my best answer is: both. I have a feeling that the FTD would have been a far better option for me about 4 months ago than low fodmaps or SCD. I also think that had I not done the elemental, I wouldn’t be where I am now, either. ¬†I know people in my SIBO forum that have been fighting this SIBO battle for¬†years and I can tell you that I do not want that to be me. ¬†So I am happy with how things have progressed, as I feel like I am moving at a rapid healing pace compared to most people (as of right now…I am well aware that can change in an instant). ¬†I think this is largely due to diligence and determination to be better, to a good caring doctor, and to this new diet that has started to allow me to not bend over in pain after having a simple meal.

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Makin’ my glorious homemade almond milk!


Having sung the praises of FTD here, I need to mention that I still keep aspects of SCD around, though. Namely, that I will cook and create most everything I eat with my own two hands. I see many people on the SIBO discussion boards still eating store-bought almond milk, store-bought gluten-free breads, store-bought jams or sour creams…and lamenting that they are feeling awful. ¬†I get it, folks. ¬†I really do. ¬†It’s not only hard as hell to have to cook and create everything you eat (from your own mayo to your

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Homemade almond nut butter!!!

own nut butters!) it’s like a damn part-time job. And the clean-up? Crazytown. ¬†I swear I spend half of my life washing dishes. But these (and many, many other) foods have all sorts of terrifyingly disgusting things in them. ¬†And for people with digestive illnesses, they affect us more than most. ¬†Things like carrageenan, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and preservatives, and soy. Hell, I have even read appalling things being included in our foods like human hair (HUMAN HAIR, PEOPLE!!! Otherwise known as L-Cysteine), Sawdust (used as a caking agent in spices and in cheese…in our glorious cheese, ya’ll!), anti-freeze (I shit you not, it’s also known as Propylene Glycol) and much MUCH more. And we wonder why we have gut issues when we are eating human hair and sawdust, right? I feel like a cat when I read that stuff…like I should be hacking up sawdusty hairballs every morning or something. ¬†The¬†point is, just because you buy it at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, or just because it says it’s organic or healthy or gluten-free, does NOT mean that it’s good for your body. ¬†And it most certainly does not mean it is good for your gut. ¬†Hell, if it hurts some of us with gut problems to eat organic cauliflower, you bettah believe ingesting sand (otherwise known as silicon dioxide and found in canned soups…yeah) is gonna do a sad little number on your intestines. I actually recently had a friend say to me, “I’m really lucky that nothing bothers me, food-wise. I can eat pretty much whatever I want!” This was AFTER she confessed to me that she suffers from cystic acne and rosacea and often has such severe constipation that she has to get regular colonics. ¬†I just blinked at her. ¬†I didn’t say anything…what was the point? ¬†If you are in such ftblog9denial about your body, a lecture from me would not only be unwelcome, but would fall on deaf ears. Still, it shocks me that people don’t connect what they put into their body with how they feel. Even people with diagnosed digestive issues still want to believe that food is not key. ¬†I am here to tell you…you’re wrong. ¬†I’m so very rarely right about anything…trust me, I’m often wrong about many things…but this is one thing I¬†KNOW to be true. So if you want to get better and feel better, start looking at what you’re consuming. ¬†If you want to continue with your symptoms, happily munch away on your jet-fuel laden cereal (also a real thing). ¬†I won’t say a word (I’ll just sit in the corner judging you silently).


Now that I’ve lectured you, if you’re still with me (thanks for hanging in while I rant on like a smug lunatic), I will happily admit to falling with a mighty KERPLUNK! off of that high horse. ¬†We can’t eat perfectly all of the time. ¬†We just can’t. ¬†We’re bound to cheat now and then, we’re bound to slip up and not read a label perfectly, or we’re bound to just get depressedftblog14 and say screw it, I NEEDS MY CHIPS!!!! ¬†It happens. When it does, just accept it, try not to beat yourself up too much over it, and get right back ON that high horse. ¬†ūüôā ¬†So, confession time. ¬†I learned last week that my last breath test for SIBO was “contaminated” and couldn’t be read. ¬†They think that perhaps the seal on one of the test tubes was faulty. ¬†I have been on PINS AND NEEDLES wondering what my numbers are and how helpful the elemental was. ¬†I was super frustrated when I heard that I’d been waiting 2 weeks for nothing, and that I’d have to re-test all over again (and wait all over again, too). My doc felt horrible delivering the news to me, I could tell. ¬†I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I. AM. EATING. INDIAN. FOOD. TONIGHT.” ¬†She didn’t even try to talk me out of it. ¬†Sheftblog10 knew I meant business. ¬†I think she was probably scared. ¬†I likely looked like some sort of deranged masala-drooling zombie. ¬†I went home, ordered my favorite dishes, and went to TOWN on those puppies. And you know what? ¬†I don’t even feel guilty. Firstly, it was my first and only “cheat” in 5 months. ¬†Secondly, it amazingly didn’t really bloat me (just a little more than my average dinner) or cause me any pain, and no all-night parties with my toilet, either! Everything came out normally (**trumpets sounding!**). And lastly, it was crazy, crazy, CRAZY good. ¬†Now I must admit, the fact that it didn’t seem to derail me took away from my guilt exponentially. ¬†I must have had some serious healing happen over the elemental and the million and one other things I’ve been trying. ¬†So I don’t recommend this until you are pretty sure you have successfully beaten back this SIBO dragon significantly. Otherwise, it’s not worth it. ¬†But in this case, it totally was. ¬†ūüėõ My always long-winded point being, I f*ck up, too. So please don’t take my lectures as sanctimonious. ¬†They are as much for me as for you.


ftblog11So I just completed my 2nd SIBO retest and am eagerly awaiting the results. The last few days have been a little more rough. ¬†Just¬†slight¬†tummy pain here and there, and I think it’s due to that damn lactulose solution that we have to drink to complete the test, and the fact that I had to drink it twice in 2 weeks. I handled it MUCH better than in the past (a little bloating but no running to the toilet or pain) but I feel like my stomach hasn’t recovered yet. Which makes me MAAAAAAD! ¬†However, what can you do? ¬†It’s the only way to test for this trollish bacteria-eyed asshat.


On that note, have you heard the news about the new SIBO (blood) test to diagnose IBS?  It was just released today by Dr. Pimental.  Check out the video here.  And the press release here from First Line Media!  Exciting things are happening!!! Maybe doctors will start to actually take us seriously?!?!?!


I’ve been putting together a recipe page for you, since that is a huge topic of discussion for many with digestive illnesses, but it is taking some time. ¬†I’ll be following the FTD while doing so, but I invite you back soon to check it out! That’s all I’ve got from this side of the Pacific! ¬†Thanks for reading, and for stopping on by the SIBO world according to Katie. ¬†ūüôā ¬†

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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.)

siboblog8

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

 

ELEMENTAL DIET DAY EIGHTEEN:
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


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY NINETEEN:

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.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY TWENTY:

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.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY TWENTY ONE:

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.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY TWENTY TWO:

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.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY TWENTY THREE:

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

siboblog11

Here we are again, 3rd update! ¬†I’m chugging along verrrrrry slllllowly, like a little SIBO sblog1snail. But a pissed one. ¬†Imagine a pissed, bloated, starving snail.


I have only 4 days left on this elemental journey. ¬†I can’t believe it. ¬†If you would like to hear about it from the beginning, please click here for the first entry and here for the second entry.


Since I’ve been putting myself out there more with this SIBO thing (blogging openly, making a point to be more social or to go to community events like I used to) I’ve been explaining this over and osblog2ver to people. ¬†People are curious because they’ve read my blog or because they see me drinking my “fart shake” (or “farty” as my husband and I so lovingly refer to it in our household) instead of eating. ¬†They naturally have questions, but I’m not very good at explaining all of this in a tidy little nutshell. And I still haven’t found a way to explain it without being totally gross and off-putting. ¬†“Lemme tell ya about the ins and outs of my poo!” isn’t the most palatable way to explain. ¬†Even with all of this practice, I still totally suck at it.


Something I get a lot when I talk to people about this is, “Well…you¬†look¬†great.” ¬†Sometimes it’s delivered with a side-eye, like they don’t¬†really¬†believe I’m sick. ¬†Sometimes it’s said with genuine surprise, like they are honestly shocked that you can be ill and not look like a crusty troll that just crawled out from under a bridge. ¬†Sometimes it’s meant to comfort me I think…they don’t know what else to say so they want to throw me bone. ¬†Not that it isn’t a sincere bone, but these are usually said sadly or awkwardly or with a little lilt on the end…”Well…you look great?” ¬†Like, “At least?”


I wonder if men get this. ¬†We place such an emphasis on women and beauty that I am willing to bet that if they do, they don’t hear it as often. ¬†Nor do they probably hear, “You look so thin! ¬†How DO you do it?!?!” ¬†Uhhh…how do I do it? ¬†I poop out everything I eat, which is usually relegated to pureed mash and bland meat. ¬†Therefore I am not absorbing any nutrients and am essentially starving my body. ¬†Most don’t seem to wanna jump on THAT poopwagon of a diet when they figure out what it really is, but like I mentioned in a previous post, a select (misguided, insane) few seem to think it is the ticket to getting thin. ¬†We could totally start a new diet trend here, SIBOers! ¬†Let’s figure out how to infect people with SIBO and we could make millions getting people thin! ¬†They would all be hangry raging monsters, but…they would be thin!


A friend of mine that recently lost a ton of weight and I were talking about this a few monthsWoman stands on scales which have two categories: Too Skinny / Too Fat. ago…how people felt it necessary to constantly give her a running commentary about her (new) weight. Everything from asking her “secret” to congratulating her to telling her she was “beautiful now!” ¬†It was very disheartening for her and confusing. ¬†Was she not beautiful before? (she was). The comments were never about her health, it was only about her appearance. ¬†For all they knew, she was starving herself (she wasn’t) and making herself very, very sick, only to be congratulated on a daily basis for getting thin. ¬†I remember being confused about it myself. When she posted new pics on instagram, I absolutely noticed her weightloss and wondered if I should comment on it. ¬†Did she¬†want comments? ¬†It’s a socially acceptable thing to do, right? ¬†If someone loses weight, we think they are TRYING to lose weight on purpose and we make a congratulatory comment about their physique. ¬†It is meant to be kind and supportive, but we were discussing how strange it truly is. ¬†I would never be able to walk up to someone that put ON weight and make a comment about it (even if they needed to gain weight…the comment would still be considered rude), so why is it perfectly acceptable to do it to people that have lost weight? I will tell you why…because women are supposed to be thin. That is the never-ending pressure. ¬†When I noticed others commenting over and over about it I decided against it. ¬†I didn’t want to jump on the congratulatory bandwagon and send some sort of message that she wasn’t amazing and beautiful before, because she absolutely was (is!).


Now, in an effort to always try to be transparent, I’m not going to pretend like this illness doesn’t come with majosblogr insecurities. ¬†Please do not think that I am above caring that it makes me feel like the blueberry girl from¬†Willy Wonka. I know I shouldn’t care, but I do. ¬†I hate not being able to wear jeans because my belly is extra bloated. ¬†I hate that this thing has made my skin and hair dry (lack of nutrients and water) and makes me feel like I’m prematurely aging and starting to resemble Nick Nolte’s mug shot. ¬†I hate that I”m losing muscle definition that I spent years and years and years working for. ¬†But mostly, I hate that I hate it. ¬†I need to learn to just accept my body, in whatever state, once and for all. ¬†Hell folks, I’m not gettin’ any younger and this big-mouthed feminist needs to be better about practicing what she so LOUDLY preaches. So, I’m working on it. ¬†It’s very hard to undo a lifetime of conditioning. ¬†I am trying to accept that my body will never be the same again. ¬†Sure, I have hope that I will get healthy and get this into remission…I am nothing if not determined, but I need to let go of the dream that I will be the way I was before. ¬†I will not, and that needs to be ok. ¬†We need to stop defining women by their looks, and we need (as women) to stop internalizing that message and continuing to buy into it. Because I know that every woman reading this has amazing strengths and passions and intelligence and warmth and brilliance to share, way beyond her outward appearance. ¬†And before it is said, I know that men too are scrutinized about their weight and appearance, but it is not even close to the way in which women are treated and evaluated. Just go to any magazine isle and I will rest my case.

 

sblog4Quickly, before I get into the daily updates, I want to answer some questions I’ve gotten from readers:

Question:¬†I¬†would love to hear if you think your mood swings are blood sugar related, and how you’re feeling for blood sugar generally on the elemental diet?

Answer:¬†One thing that has been interesting about this entire SIBO process is how much I’ve come to learn that I am NOT in touch with my body. Because I am so in touch with my emotions, I thought (in the past) this automatically translated to me being in touch with my body, but it doesn’t. ¬†I am more inclined to believe that my moodiness comes from not getting to eat. ¬†I tend to be more moody at night, because I historically ate my biggest meal in the evening. ¬†I tend to be more moody on weekends, because I associate that with fun food times. ¬†I got kinda grumpy today after meeting a colleague at a donut shop (her suggestion) and sitting across from her watching her lick her fingers while smelling the delicious aroma that only donuts can produce. ¬†The only time I think blood sugar comes into play is when I wait too long to have a shake. ¬†Then, it’s that same hangry feeling you get when you wait too long to eat. ¬†Something else interesting though…when you are very hungry and you have a shake, you IMMEDIATELY start to feel satisfied. ¬†Because it’s pre-digested, it hits your body quickly. Last night I was at an event and couldn’t have my last drink until 8pm. ¬†I was HUNGRY. After my first few sips I felt immediately better. It’s very different from food in that way.


Question: 
Would you recommend the elemental to everyone with SIBO? You seem to have done really well on it, do you think it takes a person with a huge amount of endurance or can anyone do it?

Answer:¬†This is tricky. ¬†I want to encourage anyone that wants to try it to give it a whirl, but I DO tend to think it takes a certain mentality or mindset. I am a particularly determined person. ¬†If I set a goal, I WILL make it happen. ¬†I also take my health very, very seriously. Having said that, as someone that has definitely struggled with food issues her entire life (using it as a crutch, as an escape, to self-medicate or self-soothe) I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to do this. ¬†But from even the first day, I knew I could. ¬†It just wasn’t as hard as I was expecting. ¬†As mentioned before, when I’ve done juice cleanses, I could barely make it 3 days. I was MISERABLE. ¬†I was hungry and suffering from crazy intense cravings and all I could think about was pizza. ¬†I literally dreamed (I’m serious…I had real dreams) about eating cheeseburgers. ¬†And yes, I have had some cravings while doing this but NOTHING like that. ¬†I think the big thing with the elemental is knowing what you’re getting into. Be prepared for it to suck and be hard, but know that you can handle it. People do this for months, ya’ll…some for years, and some are forced to do it for life. ¬†When I really start to get mad about it, I think of those amazing folks.

sblog5
Hammy, playing in my Vivonex Box ūüėõ


Question: 
You sound like you’re still having symptoms. Are you scared this isn’t going to work? What will you do next since you’ve already tried antibiotics and herbals?

Answer:¬†Uh. YES. ¬†A resounding, bell-ringing, symbol-clanging YES! ¬†I’m petrified I am a part of the 15% that don’t move into remission with the elemental. ¬†But all I can say to myself is this: all studies have shown that this diet gives the digestive system a much-needed break and allows for healing to occur. ¬†Even if my SIBO is not cleared, I am highly doubtful that my numbers won’t improve. ¬†I had crazy high hydrogen counts (like, off the charts), and I greatly expect them to dramatically fall. ¬†And if I have to do this again in the future to completely move myself into remission, I will. ¬†I will throw a tantrum and probably cry like a 4 year old, but I will. ¬†As for next steps, my doc and I have discussed trying Allimed (more herbals) and I am looking into FMT with my husband being the donor. ¬†For those of you that are of the queasy variety, do yourself a favor and DO NOT google that. ¬†And for the rest…when you are desperate you are desperate and there is NO shame here. FMTs are the number 1 treatment for SIBO in China and in parts of Europe.


Question: 
I am extremely thin and I am fearful I will lose too much weight on this.  How much have you lost?  Should I be worried about doing this if I am already too skinny?

Answer:¬†Tough call, but I think it would be ok, unless you’re dangerously thin. ¬†My doc was a bit worried about this with me. ¬†I am 5’4 and started at 113 lbs. ¬†I have lost 5 lbs. while doing this. ¬†That happened in the first 1.5 weeks and has stabilized, so I’ve been the same for the last 5 days. ¬†If you are concerned, you just need to keep on top of the shakes. ¬†Don’t skip any, and if your doc allows it, add in some coconut oil for fat (this greatly helped me to keep weight on). ¬†I typically have 3 shakes on non-running days and 4 on running days. ¬†I do not feel hungry unless I wait too long and if I do get hungry, I just have an extra drink. ¬†I would NOT recommend this diet to anyone that has a history of eating disorders or severely disordered eating, however. ¬†


I think I covered all of the ones that I haven’t personally answered in private messages, and these are a few I’ve gotten over and over. ¬†I’m so honored you are all reading this and feel it is helping you. Whether it just gives you insight into the elemental, makes you laugh, or makes you nod your head because you know the struggles of which I speak…I thank you for going through this with me. ¬†IF it actually works, I will post my entire regimen, as that is also something I am often asked. ¬†But I do not want to post it until I know I’ve had success, as I don’t want to lead others astray. ¬†And the next time I update, I’ll be done!!!!!!! ¬†I only wish I could celebrate with a cocktail! (or 8!) ¬†ūüėõ


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY ELEVEN:

No question about it, my hardest day yet. ¬†I have no idea why, but I really struggled today. Both this morning and last night I had stomach pain (die off…I hope?) but it went away by this afternoon. ¬†Joe and I went for a nice long walk (4 miles) just because I needed to get out of the house and get my mind off food. ¬†I feel like I’m in the middle of a marathon and have hit “the wall.” ¬†I’ve pushed past that wall through many a marathon and I will get through this one too, dammit. ¬†But I have been daydreaming about food all day. ¬†I want asblog7 cheeseburger with a donut bun on top of a pizza stuffed into a burrito topped with heaps of sour cream. ¬†I’m clueless as to why on day 11 I suddenly get intense cravings. I’ve been so proud of myself, because I feel like I’ve handled this like a friggin’ rockstar, but today was just brutal. ¬†Again, I do think the weekends are harder for me though, because for years I’ve associated them with “fun” eating. Joe and I would ritually get Indian food on Friday nights and have a delicious brunch somewhere on Sunday mornings. Mmmmm…brunnnnch…NO! Fight the brunch! Fight it! ¬†I’m really hoping tomorrow will be better. ¬†I also talked to a few people who just finished this diet and I think it kind of got me down and discouraged. ¬†One relapsed within a week, and the other doesn’t feel it worked (she still has symptoms). ¬†That kinda knocked me off my SIBO horse. ¬†It petrifies me to know that I could be doing this all for nothing. ¬†But, I’m pushing on through because what else can I do at this point? ¬†Most everything else has been tried. ¬†Anyway, 11 days down, 10 to go. ¬†FRACK that seems like a long time.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY TWELVE:

I had a solid night’s sleep (11 hours!) and I felt MUCH better today. Definitely perkier and less food obsessed (though still a little). ¬†I went for a run in the sunshine, and ignored my husband’s Thai food for dinner (though it smelled like what I imagine heaven to smell like. ¬†I wanted to crawl into the curry and bathe in it whilst eating it…don’t judge me). ¬†I really think the weekends are just hard for me and are going to continue to be so. ¬†BUT, I only have one more left! ¬†I am still having bloating issues, and it sincerely amazes me every day that it’s hanging on SO HARD. ¬†I’ve been on the Protease (Biofilm Disruptor) only a few days, but haven’t noticed anything different, except that my stomach is quite loud after I take it (gurgly) so maybe that’s a good thing. ¬†No nausea from it, thank goodness. ¬†And still no die-off symptoms, which is strange. ¬†I cannot decide if that makes me lucky or makes me unlucky. Another person I know doing this said her bloat did not go away until day 14. ¬†Welp, here it is day 13 and I would be shocked if it magically disappeared overnight. ¬†I get frustrated if I think about it too long. ¬†I am working so hard to get healthy and even THIS doesn’t appear to be working!!!! ¬†ARGH! ¬†But I try not to let myself slide into that way of thinking too far, as it isn’t going to help me. ¬†And I don’t really know what’s happening inside my body, so catastrophizing it in my mind is just silly. ¬†Buuuuuut das’ what I do! I’m a pro! ¬†ūüėõ


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY THIRTEEN:

I cannot believe I am almost at 2 weeks! ¬†Some time ago this seemed impossible. ¬†It’s amazing what we can do, isn’t it? ¬†Hahaha, I act like I just won the Pulitzer or climbed Everest without oxygen. ¬†Well this is my Everest, baby! ¬†My Food Everest. ¬†I woke up and went for a great run, met a friend and colleague for coffee (and sipped my disgusting drink) worked for several hours, then went for another short run. ¬†Someone was cooking something that smelled glorious next door and it took everything not to barge in and knock them out just to steal their food. ¬†Imma tellin’ ya…Everest. ¬†So, I ran instead. ¬†Now I’m sipping on my last shake of the day and feeling pretty good. I have noticed 2 things: I do better (mood-wise) on days that I run, and on days where I get out and do something social. ¬†Today I did both and I’m feeling much more optimistic. ¬†I am still bloated (which is annoying as shit) but I’m just waiting for the day when I wake up and have my first shake…and nothing happens. ¬†No bloat, nothing.That will be a marvelous moment. ¬†If it ever comes. ¬†Still no die off. ¬†I am starting to think that will not be a part of this equation for me.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY FOURTEEN:

I woke up soooooo excited that I made it 2 whole weeks! ¬†It seemed like this day would never come! ¬†Funnily enough, I went from SUPER stoked and proud to totally depressed at night, because a whole other week seems soooo long. ¬†Hahahaha…this damn thing is making me nutty as shit. ¬†I am also very sad because tonight after my last shake I was more bloated than I’ve been in several days. ¬†My belly is GIGANTANORMOUS right now. ¬†I feel like a water buffalo. ¬†I keep rubbing it lovingly like there is a child inside. ¬†Will this ever go away? ¬†I finished my round of Xifaxin today (my 2nd dose) and I’m wondering if my doc will put me on herbals again. ¬†I think I am starting to try to prepare myself that this might not have worked. ¬†I know I have a week left, but since I’m seeing so little results in terms of bloating, I think I need to start getting myself ready for that moment of IMMENSE disappointment. ¬†I feel like something this hard should come with a guarantee of remission for at least a year, but there are no guarantees, are there?


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY FIFTEEN:

I am officially getting to the end of this and starting to feel like I can see the finish line. ¬†But it’s like when running a marathon and you can SEE the finish line from the top of a hill and it feels sooo close, but then you realize you still have 3 miles to go. ¬†You kind of want to be hopeful and you kind of want to cry at the same time. ¬†That’s where I am right now. ¬†I am thankful I only have one more weekend left on this. ¬†It’s only Wednesday and I’m already dreading the weekend. ¬†Something weird has been happening these last few days though…my stomach has been really rumbly. ¬†I consider this to be a very good sign, as motility is an issue for me with SIBO and even when my doc listens to my stomach with a stethoscope, she says it is always silent. Maybe thing are improving in this way? ¬†I will be getting retested at the end of this and will have to wait 5-7 days for results. I so wish I could get them right THEN, but it is what it is. ¬†I am now starting to try and plan for reintroducing food and it’s scary. ¬†I cannot WAIT to eat but I’m also terrified. ¬†Someone posted in our support group about being a recovering anorexic and this whole disease triggering those issues again, because you start to learn to really fear food in a dramatic way. ¬†I can totally understand how that would be difficult for someone with an eating disorder. ¬†I’m scared to death to eat again!


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY SIXTEEN:

OH MY GOD. ¬†5 days left! ¬†That’s crazy! ¬†I felt fine today and have little to report. ¬†I felt less bloated today, though still had some at night. ¬†I didn’t get my last shake until late (8pm) because of a women’s networking event and I was DYING for it.¬† I was so hungry that I swear the damn thing even tasted good! ¬†Ha! ¬†It’s funny how fast that changed! The event had DELICIOUS looking pupus (appetizers) and everyone was sipping wine and I was jealous. ¬†But I know that is just how my life is gonna be. ¬†I think thLiz-Lemonat part will slowly get easier. ¬†For some reason the brie was calling my damn NAME. ¬†I felt like Liz Lemon when her stomach growls¬†and says what she’s craving…”Cheeeerrrrrse Frrrrrriiiiiiiiessss.” ¬†ūüôā ¬†But overall, a good day.


ELEMENTAL DIET DAY SEVENTEEN:

For some reason, 17 seems sooo much longer than 16! ¬†Not sure why. ¬†Had a great run today and I’ve oddly been much hungrier all day. ¬†My stomach is still rumbly and I’m hoping that the increased hunger and stomach noise means my motility is improving. ¬†I saw my n.d. todaysblog8 for acupuncture…I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but there are acu points on my shins that I often have trouble with; serious achiness when she inserts the needle and sometimes (like today) I jerk so hard when she puts it in that I shoot the needle right out of my leg. ¬†It doesn’t hurt exactly, it’s more like a crazy reflex. ¬†She told me a few weeks ago that this spot is the “command center” for the gut and that is why I have such a strong reaction. Interesting stuff, no? ¬†I also asked her about continuing the diet for a few more days, because I have enough solution to last 23 days instead of 21. ¬†I have to admit, I was secretly hoping she would tell me it wasn’t necessary, but instead she said, “Yes, I think that’s a great idea since you are still experiencing bloating. ¬†That is what I would do, if I were in your position.” ¬†DAMMIT. ¬†So, instead of only 4 days left, I have 6 days now. ¬†Sheesh. ¬†But, I’m going to do it. I’ve made it this far, what’s a few more days? *sobs quietly over her keyboard* We also discussed easing back into food and getting tested for some other things should the test come back positive. ¬†I think I’ve still got a long journey ahead of me. ¬†But I WILL lick this thing. ¬†That I know.

Ok, peace out all…’till next time!

Another update from…SIBO GIRL! ¬†She runs faster (to the toilet) than a speeding bullet! ¬†Her ability to bloat¬†is more powerful than a locomotive! She’s able to leap into uncomfortable conversational topics (like her bowel movements) in a single bound! ¬†Ok, so I need to work on this particular super hero bit. ¬†She’s coming off a little…gross. ¬†And sad.

Greetings from the land of no food. ¬†For those of you that didn’t read the first installment¬†in my SIBO saga, please¬†click here to get caught up. ¬†I am updating¬†on the progress of my elemental diet,¬†a 3 week all liquid diet designed to help move my body into remission from Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

I have gotten an overwhelming response from the first blog post. ¬†I had no idea that my small intestine was so fascinating! ¬†I have received many messages and emails regarding others’ journey with the beast that is SIBO, and other chronic illnesses. ¬†I feel honored to hear your¬†stories, so keep sharing them with me. ¬†ūüôā

Before I get into my elemental updates, I wanted to talk a little about what it’s like to have a chronic illness that largely involves your bowels. ¬†Well…it’s awkward. ¬†It’s constantly awkward. I’ve always been a social butterfly and I love keeping busy and being involved in 623 different things at once. ¬†sb9But since trying to heal from this, I’ve become somewhat reclusive.
I don’t want to do this at all, but when you have to lug your pureed butternut squash to a beach bbq and sip water while everyone else chows on cheesebugers and beer, it does put a damper on your fun. ¬†And then there’s the explaining…and this isn’t exactly an easy illness to discuss.

Let me invite you to a common scenario in my life:

A dude comes over to me at a beach bbq with a hot dog topped with melty cheese in one hand, dark beer in the other.

Me (resisting the urge to take a giant bite out of the hot dog and rip delicious-looking beer out of dude’s hand): Hey there!

Hot dog man: Hey! ¬†Aren’t you hungry? WHAT is that you’re eating? (looks disdainfully down at my pureed carrots that I am eating with a spoon…on the beach).

Me: Heh. They’re carrots. ¬†

Hotdog man: Don’t you want a hot dog?¬†

Me: Nah.

Hotdog man: Why not? Why did you bring your own food? 

Me: I’m on this special diet¬†for medical reasons and I can’t have things like hot dogs or beer. (still resisting the urge to punch him in his healthy gutjust so I can steal his hot dog and have my way with it)

Hotdog Man: (Asks a million questions, mostly seemingly out of obligation…what illness I have, what I can eat, what I can’t eat, what causes it…) then asks: So, what are the symptoms of this SIBO thing?

Me: Uhhhhhh…errrrrr…wellllll…stomach pain, bloating,¬†brain fog, joint pain, excessive gas, diarrhea, constipation (hotdog man looks at me rather disgustedly), that kind of thing. ¬†I then give him one of these:¬†

sb1

Hotdog man: That sucks.  

Me: Yeah. 

Soooo, social situations can be tricky. ¬†I am also constantly being asked, “Why are you eating like that? ¬†Are you on a diet? ¬†You’re so skinny already!!” or “ONE beer isn’t going to hurt you, I’m sure.” or the old standby, “I almost wish I had an illness like you so I would eat healthier and lose weight!” For those who throw out that last one…stop. Just stop. ¬†Not only do I not wish this on anyone, it’s demeaning to those that find this situation to be very difficult and limiting. ¬†Being skinny does NOT equal happiness, I promise you. ¬†Also, the desire to share¬†silver-lining scenarios (of the “at least you…” variety) in an effort to be positive is understandable, because I realize you often don’t know how to respond or what to say, but it can be frustrating to someone struggling. ¬†Sometimes, people need to be able to feel their feelings. ¬†It’s ok (and healthy! ¬†and normal!) to be sad, or mad, or frustrated. ¬†We all need to learn to be more comfortable in these uncomfortable spaces, because we all have these feelings.¬†And lastly, no, you absolutely do not want this just to “get healthy.” ¬†Guess what? ¬†You can get healthy all on your own without having to drink your food like a baby! ¬†Be happy about that. Like, fo’ real.

With a big diet overhaul like this, you surrender yourself to a lot of judgment. It’s really strange when you think about it. ¬†I am so committed to getting my body back to healthy that I’m doing this incredibly difficult and hard thing, yet I’m still being judged. ¬†For what, not eating frenchsb6sb5 fries?
¬†I’ve come to learn, friends with similar illnesses, that this isn’t about us or our choices at all, it’s about the person judging. ¬†It ignites something within them. Perhaps it’s shame because they don’t take care of their own bodies, or maybe it’s guilt because they feel strange eating around someone that has to drink their meals, or it could be that¬†they feel judged by¬†you, simply because you are doing something that they “would never do” or “could never do.” Many people tend to think that if you don’t choose their choices or their way of living, that you are subtlety saying something negative about their choices. I think it’s a great divider in our society. ¬†I believe it’s why others sometimes get so defensive and judge me so harshly for not having children. ¬†Sure, they may genuinely think I am missing out and feel sympathetic for that (which by the way I can understand), but I believe they may also feel like by not choosing Motherhood, I am making a statement that it’s not good enough for me or that I’m somehow above it. I would understand more if I were making unfair, cruel statements like, “What you’re eating is disgusting and terrible and you should stop!” or “Motherhood is stupid!” But I would never make those statements, because I do not feel that way…however it seems they are projected onto me anyway from time to time because my choices are different. ¬†The key word here is “projected.” ¬†We all project onto each other in big and small ways everyday. ¬†I try to remind myself when someone says something judgmental toward me about my eating choices, that¬†I¬†need to remember to be empathetic towards¬†them because they might be struggling with something that I cannot understand. ¬†Do I always succeed? Hell nah. Do I try? ¬†Yes. ¬†(When I am in the right frame of mind. ¬†Or like, when I’ve had enough sleep. ¬†Or like, when I’m in a good mood. ¬†Or like, when I’m having a good day healthwise). Ok maybe I could be a little better about this in general.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we could instead just step¬†back, take a breath and¬†listen?¬†And¬†empathize? ¬† I have said it a million times over, but I believe empathy is one of the greatest (and most missing!) tools we have as human beings. ¬†If we could only learn to let people be where they are and hold our judgment or decipher if we are judging based on our own issues, I believe we could be much happier people.

A new friend that reached out to me after reading my last blog explained how much she was sb2struggling with SIBO. She genuinely wants to live a healthy, happy life, but finds herself feeling depressed¬†and hopeless at times. ¬†She wrote to me and asked, “How do you manage to stay so positive?” ¬†I nearly spit out my grotesque liquid shake, and not because of its foul-osity, but because it made me laugh. ¬†I cannot think of a single person in my life that wold describe me as “positive.” ¬†Positively combative? ¬†Yes. Positively Opinionated? ¬†Yes. I have definitely often been described as “perky” (See above photo) because I am friendly and smiley and goofy, but I am NOT of the sunshine-y variety. ¬†So just in case I let my silliness and humor come through a little too much on my last post, rest assured that I have indeed¬†struggled with this. Tremendously. ¬†In fact, it has made me realize that if I ever get a truly life-threatening illness I will be the biggest baby on the entire planet.

As I briefly alluded to in my last post, when I was first diagnosed I was depressed and scared after learning that this was a chronic illness that would require a drastic lifestyle overhaul. ¬†I decided to bravely face this diagnosis by eating MY BODY WEIGHT in pizza and chocolate¬†for 5 days while binge-watsb8ching¬†Gilmore Girls and weeping. ¬†(Ha, you should have seen my belly THEN…it looked like I was having triplets).¬†I have also fallen victim to complaining/crying/talking ad nauseam about this to my poor husband so much that he has likely developed caretaker’s fatigue (when you are helping take care of a chronically ill person and become bitter, resentful, stressed, and exhausted from everything being all about¬†them).

Now, let me be clear: I often don’t feel well. ¬†I feel tired and bloated¬†and have tummy sb3pains and sadly the toilet and I have become new besties…but I am not THAT sick. ¬†I think we (some SIBO sufferers) can really make the mistake of confusing discomfort with sickness and I have often done this. I need to learn to deal with uncomfortable. ¬†I need to learn to better control my need to whine because whining makes¬†me¬†feel better (while making everyone around me miserable). ¬†I need to understand that other people with far more debilitating issues have it much, much worse and I am crazy lucky (knock on porcelain). My own sister has severe Ulcerative Colitis, an extremely awful bowel/intestinal disease with far worse symptoms than my own, yet I am embarrassed to admit that I have spent over 30 minutes complaining to her on the phone on multiple occasions. ¬†Basically, I am not above being a huge, dramatic, completely self-absorbed wussy assface is what I’m saying. ¬†And while sometimes that is ok, maybe even necessary, we (and I!) have got to learn that something like this cannot rule our lives.¬†There is still so much to see and do and be and accomplish. And conversely, on especially bad days we should gives ourselves ¬†break,¬†take a much-needed rest, whine to someone kind enough to listen, then get right back to living our lives when we can. Because as cliche as it sounds, life is a gift. ¬†So that’s how I stay positive. ¬†That, and a sense of humor go a really long way. ¬†I’ve learned to make fun of the ridiculous situations this illness puts you in, which helps more than you know. ¬†And lastly, get outside and get moving. ¬†There are some days I feel too terrible to do much, but there are many times where I feel fine or somewhat fine adjacent, and that’s when it’s important to be outdoors. ¬†There is something healing about nature. ¬†So go for a light jog, a long walk, a short hike with the kids or your significant other, or just go to the park and lay in the sun and read a book. ¬†You will feel better, I promise. ¬†These things are healthy and good for the soul and body and I am convinced that exercise is good for the gut as well. And bonus! The outdoor options don’t have to revolve around food. ¬†ūüôā

ELEMENTAL DAY SIX:
I had some trouble sleeping last night. ¬†I am definitely having kidney pain. ¬†It feels like a burning in my lower back and is definitely reminiscent of a UTI infection. ¬†It woke me up several times. ¬†I decided to cut out the coconut oil today, since I couldn’t help but wonder if I was reacting to it. ¬†But of course that eliminated more calories and fat so I ended up feeling much hungrier because of it. ¬†I am STILL bloated¬†(DAMMIT!) and I followed the usual pattern of perky as a cheerleader on cocaine in the morning and then crestfallen and depressed at night. ¬†Not sure what that’s about. ¬†I’ve also discovered that this lovely solution gives me “fart breath” as Joe calls it. Lovely. ¬†Not only am I sexy as hell with a giant belly that looks like it belongs on a beer-guzzling redneck, but now I have fart breath to boot. Fantastic. Don’t be jealous of him, lads, not everyone can land a hot ticket¬†like dis’ girl. The one piece of good news I have to deliver is that I ran today! ¬†I only squeaked out 3.5 miles but it felt great. ¬†I was quite tired when I got home however, and definitely hungry. ¬†I might have to add a packet on running days, we’ll see.

ELEMENTAL DAY SEVEN:
I’m one week in, bitches!!! 1/3 through! ¬†¬†*Happy dance for week 1!!!* ¬†(I know. I am super cool). ¬†¬†

It feels good to say that though I WISH I were saying, “Hurrah! ¬†two weeks in, bitches!” ūüėõ I threw away yet another empty box of Vivonex (it comes with packets of 10) and I even kicked it when I did. Take that! ¬†And that! (I am very mature). ¬†Still bloated¬†and I have NO idea why. Seriously??? It’s starting to piss me off. ¬†The one good thing I had in my mind about suffering through this was that I might look like a normal human being for 3 weeks. Nope! ¬†In other news, I have now started to poo baby poo (sorry but when you get a bowel disorder you lose all ability to be concerned about talking about poop). ¬†Meaning, it looks like baby poo…no consistency and yellow and creepy. ¬†Since they compare the elemental to breast milk (because it is a completely pre-digested food source) I guess this makes sense. ¬†I feel like¬†The Curious Case of Katie Caldwell, as I am now slowly becoming some sort of baby-adult hybrid like Benjamin Button. I eat baby food, I poop baby poop, I certainly whine like a baby. ¬†I haven’t added coconut oil to my shakes the last 2 days to ascertain if I was bloating¬†because of the coconut oil. I never really suspected I had a reaction to it, but figured this was the time to test it out. So far no difference, but I will probably continue this way for a few more days to be sure. The kidney pain seems better today, so that’s a plus. ¬†I think – and I cannot BELIEVE I am saying this – that I am getting used to the taste more. ¬†I no longer have to take a whiff of the coffee before drinking, but I still utilize the straw in the back of the mouth method. ¬†Who knows, maybe by the end of this I’ll be guzzling it? ¬†I suppose I was on the tired side today, because I didn’t go to the gym as planned, just a mile walk with Joe after “dinner.” ¬†I had a harder time with food today. ¬†Thinking about it more, daydreaming about it more. ¬†I also had some minor acid reflux¬†after my last shake of the day, which is very odd, as I never get acid reflux.

ELEMENTAL DIET DAY EIGHT:
I woke up this morning ECSTATIC because my belly was the flattest it’s been in months!sb Hardly any bloat at all! (Please ignore my ragamuffin Orphan Annie look…I’d just woken up). ¬†I thought, “Maybe this nasty shit is finally working!” ¬†I went for a nice run and felt pretty energetic. ¬†I cleaned my house and did some work (I work from home). ¬†I was feeling good until I had my lunch drink, when POW! Bloat city. ¬†Excuse me belly, I did not just swallow a boulder, I swallowed LIQUID ya rat bastard. ¬†Anyway, still no die-off. ¬†It’s making me hugely nervous. ¬†WHAT IF I AM DOING ALL OF THIS FOR NOTHING!?!?! ¬†I am seeing my n.d. for acupuncture today and am going to ask her about biofilm disruptors. ¬†If I’m doing something this hard, I’m going to attack it with all I’ve got. I think it’s time to add them in. ¬†I was a moody today. ¬†I feel like I went from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to Voldemort.

ELEMENTAL DIET DAY NINE:
I AM ALMOST IN DOUBLE DIGITS!!!! ¬†So ready to be. ¬†I’m still hanging in over here! ¬†12 days left. ¬†Again I woke up with very little bloat and again it came on later in the day. ¬†I saw my naturopath and asked her if I should be concerned that I am not experiencing die-off. ¬†She said that it is not necessarily an indication of whether or not I am healing. ¬†The fact that I am still bloating at day 9 concerned her more. ¬†She did put me on a biofilm disruptor: Protease. In case you don’t know, biofilm is a thin, slimy substance that adheres to a surface. ¬†We all have it lining our intestines, and it is thought that the bacteria causing SIBO can hide in this filmy lining, so that treatments and medication cannot reach it. ¬†Then, when we start feeding it again, it comes out to play. ¬†Hopefully the disruptor will infiltrate the biofilm and brutally murder the sneaky little shitheads that are hiding out like bacterial pansies. ¬†I am getting out more and being more social these last few days. ¬†I’m going to a talk at the college and meeting a friend for coffee tomorrow (well, she will have coffee and I will sit across from her and drool). ¬†Again, we cannot let this thing rule our lives!

ELEMENTAL DIET DAY TEN: 

Double digits BA-BY!!!! ¬†I made it! ¬†I made it 10 days! ¬†I never thought in a million years I would be able to do this. ¬†Truly, my food issues in the past have been so severe that if someone told me I would go 10 days without food I would have busted something laughing. ¬†But here I am! ¬†I was a little more bloated this morning than the past few, which was disheartening for sure, but I’m trying not to let it get me down. ¬†I haven’t really been doing my #2 business the last few days, so that might be why. Which is strange for me. ¬†I had a really solid run this morning, however. ¬†I’m trying to run only every other day and just walk on the other days or do some light yoga. ¬†The drink also tends to make me burp a lot afterward, which is also weird for me. ¬†I know it sounds funny, but I’ve just never been a gassy girl. ¬†Joe always jokes that I am just going to explode one day, because in nearly 12 years of marriage he’s heard me fart like 3 times. ¬†I just…don’t. ¬†I don’t know why. ¬†But after a drink now I burp quite a bit. ¬†I think Joe is getting some kind of weird kick out of it. ¬†Ah, marriage. ¬†It’s interesting, isn’t it? ¬†ūüėõ ¬†I went to a talk last night at the college by the great Janet Mock and had to bring my shake with me. ¬†I was paranoid about its smell because it’s soooo super strong and foul, but it had to be done! ¬†Anyway, she is so inspirational because she’s overcome so much adversity and so much oppression in her life. ¬†It’s a good thing for a person to hear when she’s struggling with something, because next to her life struggles, mine look like small potatoes. ¬†Except potatoes are high fodmap so we’ll say…small carrots. ūüėõ It’s all about perspective, folks. ¬† ¬†

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