My Gut Health Saga & Gastroenterologist Appointment


 

This is my personal ongoing story with major (scary) gut health issues. It is not meant to be used to self-diagnose or self-treat.

I am not a doctor or health professional, I am simply someone suffering from a gut health problem, and working strategically through solutions.

However, I’ve read countless stories of similar problems & potential solutions, which I found incredibly helpful in taking the right steps and asking the right questions along the way… so my hope is that my story proves helpful to someone else who may be suffering, and hopefully before it gets as bad as mine has.

I have NEVER been THIS sick for THIS long.

This whole gut health ordeal has been nothing short of completely miserable – and incredibly stressful.

lowcarbtraveler gut health discussion

What I’ve been doing to manage the symptoms and continue thriving (most days) with high energy and solid sleep… has been working. But it’s been simply that: managing the symptoms and getting by, not fixing the actual problem.

That said, it’s been working VERY well – so there’s that at least. 😉

I’ll share with you what I’ve been doing, and why, and how that’s helping – all the nitty gritty details. But first, A WARNING: this post contains graphic detail in some places that you may want to skip over if descriptive digestion talk disturbs you, and I highly recommend you don’t read this while you’re eating. 🤣 /warning

!!! I’VE BEEN STRESSED TO THE MAX OVER THIS !!!

Sorry for shouting. *sigh*

This has been such a stressful experience for a number of reasons. Being sick has affected my work and productivity obviously, and of course my overall quality of life.

I can’t exactly get out hiking in my condition, or be that far away from a bathroom for that long 😛 which has really ruined my usual spring & summer hiking adventures.

I also feel bad for not publishing my usual daily food diaries, but it’s because I’m “eating funny” and I don’t want to set a bad example or mislead anyone who might be newer to eating low carb – and not familiar with my current gut health issues.

I haven’t been able to share as much as I’d like lately period, and I have SO much to share with you!! But I’ve been sleeping A LOT as I’m testing a new supplement and reintroducing foods (like vegetables) one at a time again as part of that test.

I’m finding I have to lie down after most meals (unless it’s just plain meat). Yesterday alone I slept 11 hours 😳 which means I’m not getting much done otherwise.

There’s also the fact that I’m nauseous off and on, which kills my focus – and my ability to write, or look at a screen for too long.

Then there are all the questions & comments…

Throughout this entire gut health ordeal I’ve continued sharing updates and my meals & food choices in an ongoing story on both Instagram and Facebook, which has sparked A LOT of interesting discussions & questions – but also some criticism.

There have been long periods where I’ve had to stay OFFLINE and just take a break, because stress makes my gut issues 10x worse, so I simply step away when I have to – because: self care.

Most people have been curious more than anything and very kind, understanding and compassionate which is really nice. Plus sharing their own stories & experiences which made for great discussions and new things for me to research & test.

But I’ve also been taking a little heat, or at least some questions FEEL accusatory.

Such as: “are you anorexic?” (anorexia: “an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.”)

Um, no. I’m just SICK and can hardly eat anything. 🙄

I’m back down to my usual low weight that I was 2 1/2 years ago, and 1 1/2 years ago (just below 140: currently weighing 139.6).

I lost almost 10 pounds during our Q1 winter keto challenge, and have been hovering around 140.8 or so for the last few months.

So to clarify: I have NOT lost 10+ pounds from being sick lately.

My weight was up before the year started, and I had to “mind my macros” to get it off again – and I did. THEN I got sick. My weight has only fluctuated a couple pounds the whole time I’ve been sick, which is common for me when I’m not well.

The anorexia comment was in regards to me sharing my excitement over losing .08 pounds and dipping back into the 130’s finally one day last week. 🙂

My size hasn’t really changed in quite awhile… You see pictures of me often!

Keto Weight Loss Maintenance

June 22nd vs April 21st vs May 18th – not much of a difference lately since I dropped the winter weight in the first quarter, or since I got sick in early March.

I probably said something misleading, unintentionally, to give people the impression that my weight loss this year had anything to do with being sick. It didn’t though – so now that’s all cleared up!;)

Anyway…

When I do share my meals, it causes A LOT of confusion & questions. 🤦‍♀️

People have asked if I’m fasting (ie not eating intentionally), doing OMAD (one meal a day), if I’m eating carnivore (meat only), etc.

No to all, or at least not intentionally. I’m only eating what I can tolerate which is mostly plain meats, macadamia nut butter, yogurt, eggs, and a few other things.

I eat when I’m hungry, don’t eat when I’m not hungry, and only eat what appeals or what I can safely digest. That’s all.

The MCT Oil I’ve been using to alleviate digestive inflammation is very high fat and high calorie, and also works as an appetite suppressant, so that gets me by on days I’m too sick to eat much.

At least a dozen people have said “you should get back to the basics and quit eating so many keto products.” Um, refer back to my list above lol. 🤔😜

People are not always very subtle or sensitive to the situation… or paying much attention.

These are the only four meals I ate on my recent trip to Austin (yes, only 4 meals in 5 days) – just meat & avocado mostly. Otherwise I had mct oil & collagen powder in my coffee, and a couple of macadamia nut butter packets:

Keto Meals in Austin TX

The only exception is a collagen/mct keto bar with clean ingredients that I’ve discovered I can tolerate, so one of those gets me by in a pinch.

Those don’t bother my stomach at all – where 4 little brussel sprouts or half a serving of plain green beans sends me into days of pure misery. Go figure!

Food did not cause this problem.

I am legitimately SICK.

I’ve been eating a ketogenic low carb diet for 8 1/2 years with no problems and no digestive issues. Prior to going keto I ate horrible amounts of CRAP and processed foods and junk – and NEVER got this sick.

So no, don’t blame keto.

And don’t blame me either, please.

It’s bad enough being this sick… without being blamed for being sick. 😏

My doctor and gastroenterologist both agree that I am doing all the right things by continuing to eat gluten free and sugar free (keto), and doing a total elimination diet w/cautious testing – at least until we get some definitive answers.

Apologies if I seem defensive or crabby (I am). It’s been a really tough week. I’ll explain why in a second, because I’ve been doing exceptionally well otherwise, all things considered.

The Warning Signs That Something Was Wrong

In hindsight this all started 2.5 years ago after a nasty winter flu I couldn’t shake, followed by 3 rounds of antibiotics & 2 doses of steroids.

I didn’t think much of the symptoms at first: depression, anxiety, insomnia, bloating, nausea, lack of appetite, etc. Those sort of snuck up on me at a time when I already wasn’t feeling my best.

Over the course of the next year or so I mentioned mysterious weight gain several times too, and started blood glucose/ketone testing to identify & eliminate potential ingredient culprits or food intolerances.

I attributed most of those symptoms to the stress in my life at the time (A LOT).

I eventually recovered and got back in the swing of things, only to be hit by a cold/flu/virus the next winter – and again the winter after.

I had antibiotics both winters since that first bad bout 2 1/2 years ago, but it was this last round (or virus) in March of this year that really did me in… and made me aware something MUCH deeper was going on, literally. 😜

The most obvious & most consistent symptom though, was my hair…

Or at least, that’s the thing that bothered me most.

During the entire 2 1/2 years I would have long periods of time where my hair was falling out and breaking off. Just shampooing or running my fingers through my hair resulted in a HANDFUL of hair strands.

My hair had a very “elastic” feel to it and kept breaking off. Even when I had it cut, it would split right where she cut it. My hairdresser was perplexed and called it “thyroid hair.”

I did see my doctor, do bloodwork, have my thyroid & Vitamin D checked, etc etc etc. All of that came out fine – great results, no problems. So I ruled out my thyroid as the issue.

My hair and nails weren’t growing much either. My hair just kept getting thinner and shorter, and one of my nails split all the way down the bed to the quick.

This photo was taken just 3 weeks after my last haircut:

Gut Health Symptoms - Hair Falling Out
You can see the discussion about this on Facebook here.

I became embarrassed and self conscious about how bad my hair looked, to the point of wearing it up and avoiding photos.

Besides constantly breaking off, so much of it fell out that you could literally see through the back of my hair. 😌

I saw my doctor as I mentioned, and I also increased my daily protein intake: higher grams, but still under 25% of my total daily calories. (see: keto macros)

I basically doubled my protein intake from around 45 grams a day (the recommended daily amount) to closer to 90’ish grams most days.

I read that was good for your hair. 😉

I tried biotin with no results, then switched to taking collagen daily – and have seen GREAT (fast!) results with that. I have new hair growing in, it’s getting thicker, and my roots are showing within weeks of getting my hair colored – so it’s growing again!

I usually (sadly) only have to get my hair touched up maybe twice a year – until now.

💡 My hairdresser should start selling collagen to ALL of her clients! lol

I’m using Perfect Keto unflavored collagen powder and also their MCT C8/C10 oil (more on that in a second). Our coupon code is LOWCARBTRAVELER for a discount. I don’t like the flavored powders, they’re too sweet for me, and unflavored collagen powder mixes into anything.

There were many other on/off “symptoms” as I mentioned, but my hair was the most OBVIOUS and embarrassing.

Throughout that entire two years I was diligently testing for food culprits, monitoring symptoms, working with my doctor and working on feeling better: exercise, sunshine, feel-good activities, eliminating certain ingredients/foods, etc.

I still didn’t put it all together as pointing to gut health.

I was going through a really hard time in my personal life and honestly thought it was all the result of stress & depression (meaning: I was sad/down for legitimate reasons – things were CRAZY there for awhile).

It wasn’t until it was all AMPLIFIED this past March into UNBEARABLE symptoms that I realized something was seriously wrong, and had to take more drastic action…

The Symptoms

I caught a nasty flu on my flight home from Long Beach, CA in February. I boarded a 5 hour non-stop flight, and was surrounded by 5 or 6 people coughing their heads off and blowing their noses through the entire trip.

I woke up the next morning the unhappy recipient of that lovely virus.

It was bad enough to see my doctor so I took the usual dose of antibiotics and steroids, then got well and back on my feet – only to be hit with another virus a month later, in early March, from a close friend that was sick.

I didn’t take antibiotics that second time, just over the counter cold medication, chicken broth & rested a lot.

I did take a Zicam tablet though, as soon as I realized my friend was sick, to try to ward it off. The minute I melted that tablet on my tongue I got severe indigestion and acid reflux…

Next I felt painful rumbling in my stomach, like a soda was shaken up in my tummy, which moved down to excruciating gas pains and spasms in my intestines.

I thought for sure I had a bad reaction to the ingredients of the Zicam, and maybe I did. My friend also had stomach upset with that virus so at first I thought it was more of a stomach flu type cold. Or maybe both. 🤷‍♀️

But the fact that those symptoms continued, and have persisted for MONTHS, finally lead me to see a gastroenterologist (GI specialist).

I was bloated, nauseous and had no appetite. I was burping constantly and had acid reflux. I was in the bathroom something like 17 times a day, full of gas and mucous – sometimes a clear/white foamy mucous, other times a long stringy mucous.

I constantly felt compelled to use the bathroom, but rarely was there an actual bowel movement. It felt like my intestines were working overtime (they were).

Managing The Symptoms – Successfully

During the almost four months of extreme stomach and intestinal problems from the time the flu ended in March until early July, I tried and tested various things in an effort to determine what was actually going on.

I got nauseous at the sight or even the thought of food. My digestive system was inflamed, constantly rumbling, in spasms, and causing me constant pain & discomfort.

I saw my doctor as I mentioned, and I did try a prescription to help with (relax) the intestinal spasms as a first step. That prescription had ZERO effect, it didn’t work for me, but I did try it consistently for a full month – two different times.

The ONLY thing that sounded good was plain meat – like: plain chicken wings, a plain hamburger steak, grilled chicken, dry ribs, etc.

Everything else turned my stomach at the sight of it. I kept trying to eat “balanced meals” anyway, and plenty of fiber – which I (mistakenly) thought would help.

Anytime I tried to eat vegetables, salad or broccoli (my usuals) I would be in excruciating gut pain (upper first, then lower) for FOUR FULL DAYS.

Solution: MCT Oil + Elimination Diet

Through trial and error I started identifying foods that caused debilitating flare-ups. Knowing I felt best on the nights I only had plain meat for dinner (wing night, for example), that’s where I started.

I did a “total elimination diet” starting with just plain meat, and cautiously tested one new food at a time back into my diet every 4-6 days to see how each one affected me.

Any vegetables literally KILLED my guts, like 4 full days of misery, starting with hiccups & indigestion and ending with excruciating abdominal pain – every single time.

I had to mark all green vegetables OFF the list, as those WRECKED my system consistently, and slowly built up a list of foods I could eat with no adverse effects.

The foods I could tolerate included: all meats, eggs, avocado, any nut butters (macadamia nut butter, sweetened almond butters, peanut butter, etc), dairy was fine (cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc).

Sugar free sweeteners didn’t bother me so I could also eat the cleaner ingredient keto/collagen bars and things like FatSnax keto cookies and Lolli’s cookie clusters – which helped get me by on days when everything else turned my stomach.

I happily discovered I could eat Mammoth Creameries keto ice cream 😍 which is mostly eggs and heavy cream, and that was VERY soothing on my inflamed digestive system which was nice.

Those products are all more recent additions though after cautious testing, and me needing to find more low carb / sugar free foods I could tolerate to both maintain nutritional ketosis (for health reasons) and also maintain a healthy gut balance (ie no sugar or gluten).

Before that though, I discovered MCT Oil and learned it is a natural anti-inflammatory on your digestive system, among many other health benefits.

Premium C8 C10 MCT Oil

MCT Oil is also an appetite suppressant, which helped me get through most of the day without having to stress over food and meals, often just having a serving of nut butter in the afternoon and then a solid dinner in the evening of either just meat – or meat, avocado & cheese maybe.

This entire trial & error phase took WEEKS at a time.

I would feel SO great just using MCT Oil and eating meats, that I would get brave enough to test half a serving of vegetables again – only to be back in INTESTINAL HELL for four full days.

So I backed off and stuck to what worked.

That’s how I got through the 5-day trip to Austin recently, by the way. I actually feel AMAZING using the MCT Oil and enjoying good fatty ribeyes and other meats.

As long as I stick to the meat & oil (and other “marked safe” foods I mentioned), I have high energy and feel GREAT.

Here are 3 photos from my trip – you can’t even tell I’ve been sick & suffering for more than 4 months at all:

Managing Gut Health Symptoms

The MCT Oil works wonders on both my upper and lower digestive issues.

It calmed (stopped) the acid reflux, random burping, indigestion, nausea, burning/twisting feeling in my abdomen (intestinal spasms), etc.

That plus the total elimination diet is what kept me going and feeling great!

I wasn’t well though, only managing the symptoms. Every time I tried even a small few bites of vegetables again, the flare-up was just as big and just as bad as before.

Then one day I realized I wasn’t going to the bathroom much anymore.

At one point I added up that it must have been 4 or 5 days since I’d had a bowel movement, and they were happening MAYBE once or twice a week (and not much at a time). This started to seriously concern me.

What if I become toxic? What if I have a blockage? What if something in my body stopped working? OR: what if I’m just not producing enough waste to go that often anymore and my body is simply USING what I’m eating?

I had no idea, but that started giving me anxiety…

I was no longer in gut-wrenching pain, but it’s like everything just came to a complete HALT – my insides were totally shut down or something.

I still had the gas and mucous issues (not every hour like before at least), but otherwise my bowels were rarely moving.

On the recommendation of a friend who’d had similar symptoms and IBS issues, I started using a laxative. That REALLY helped. It eased what bloating and constant discomfort was left for sure.

I did this for several weeks leading up to my first appointment with the specialist, in case they ended up needing to do a procedure on me…

My First Gastroenterologist Appointment (I was SERIOUSLY SCARED)

By the time I went to the GI specialist I had been sick for about 4 months.

At first I thought it was a bad reaction to a medication, then maybe a stomach flu – both of which would pass. Then I tested the prescription from my primary doctor. Then I thought I had it under control – then I realized I didn’t.

As soon as I got home from Austin, I made the appointment and they got me in right away – that same week.

At this point I’m thinking worst case scenario, but realizing (and hoping) it may be as simple as a gut flora issue that has to re-balance itself over time.

I didn’t know, but I was afraid.

Scared enough to pack a “go bag” when I left home for my appointment… because I honestly thought they might admit me or want to perform surgery immediately.

Gut Health - Gastroenterologist Appointment (What To Expect)

I was armed with all medications I was taking or had taken, the MCT Oil I was using, detailed notes with my dates/symptoms/results, my food diaries… as well as clean underwear, my favorite loungewear, my phone charger & laptop, etc.

I fully expected to get whisked away from that appointment. I was afraid, and fully prepared to NOT get to come home once the doctor heard what I’d been through, and for how long…

I also skipped my MCT oil that morning and went to my appointment in a fasted state – just in case. I was prepared for the worst.

Normally I add two TBSP to my first morning coffee, but I’ve been known to use four full tablespoons – and also add Miralax (a laxative powder). 😳

MCT Oil for IBS

On that note, someone else asked me if perhaps the MCT Oil was causing my gut issues. Quite the opposite, as I’ve explained. I didn’t start using it until after I had IBS, and it has consistently given me instant relief.

I’ve been super diligent about improving my overall health, managing all the symptoms, doing a total elimination diet, clean testing solutions & foods & ingredients, reintroducing foods cautiously to identify culprits, etc.

Am I frustrated, stressed, “food bored” and exhausted with the whole ordeal? Yes. But I put in the time, paid close attention, and learned A LOT about my body in the process.

And got a fresh lesson in patience and stress management too. 😜

IBS & FD: Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Functional Dyspepsia

My first appointment with Dr. Garcia went exceptionally well. He spent over an hour with me as we went over my issues and he explained some of the common culprits (and the why/how) as well as potential solutions – and of course a basic physical exam, where he ruled out my gall bladder as the problem (YAY).

He explained Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Functional Dyspepsia to me (I have both) as well as how COMMON and under-diagnosed they generally are.

As for the causes, I did a series of lab work after our meeting including blood samples and stool samples, so I’ll have more definitive answers at my next appointment this Friday.

He did say though that it’s very common to get either FD (upper digestive tract) and IBS (lower digestive system), or both in my case, following antibiotics – but even just following a flu or viral infection of any kind. He explained it as a sort of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) on the digestive system.

We talked about my anxiety and panic attacks, and how one feeds into the other. I’ve often heard the GUT referred to as the second brain. Getting stressed can make your stomach upset, and likewise: serious digestive issues causing stress, anxiety, etc.

He explained how the supplement I decided to start with would “retrain my digestive system” to relax, and ultimately I could stop taking it – and my guts would remain relaxed, instead of clenched up and resisting food with violent spasms.

That point alone gave me a huge LIGHTBULB of hope!!

I was reminded of Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind by Dr. Joe Dispenza (an AMAZING read if you want to learn how to control your body, your mind, your health – and improve your life) as well as his newer book Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One that I just started reading again recently.

“You are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose. Dr. Joe Dispenza combines the fields of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to show you what is truly possible. Not only will you be given the necessary knowledge to change any aspect of yourself, but you will be taught the step-by-step tools to apply what you learn in order to make measurable changes in any area of your life. Once you break the habit of being yourself and truly change your mind, your life will never be the same!”

The lightbulb that went off for me was about the breathing exercises I use to relax and fall asleep after a stressful or even just a full day – and how I could apply that same type of exercise to use my mind… to control (and relax) my gut.

Basically I lie still and focus on my breathing, and in my mind (not out loud) I inhale deeply and think “relax the mind” then exhale slowly and think “relax the body” over and over – until it works and I fall into a deep sleep.

While I’m not against medicine or surgery where necessary, and I’m seeing a doctor and following his orders, I’m all for doing whatever you can to heal or improve your life naturally – or at least manage the symptoms and get through a really tough mental or physical spell in your life.

So in addition to taking the new supplement, that’s what I’ve been practicing.

Whenever I feel my guts cramping up, or it gets near mealtime and I start having intense anxiety, I stop and close my eyes and breathe – and focus on relaxing my stomach, my core, my intestines, and releasing the tension.

Gut Health Solutions

I know it might seem like such a SIMPLE thing, but it’s helping me tremendously. The panic attacks and nausea at just the sight or even thought of food had been a major source of stress for me leading up to this appointment.

The doctor was happy to hear about my elimination diet and testing, and interested in my use of mct oil to reduce the digestive tract inflammation and stop the symptoms, and encouraged me to continue avoiding foods that caused flare-ups and to continue doing what was working for me while we wait on my lab results.

He also gave me a sample of both IBgard and FDgard and recommended I try it and then order some from home if it works for me.

IBgard FDgard IBS Gut Health Issues and Functional Dyspepsia

IBgard is a peppermint oil supplement for IBS, or Irritable Bowl Syndrome affecting the lower digestive tract/intestines. FDgard is a peppermint oil supplement for Functional Dyspepsia, digestive issues in the upper stomach.

I have a strong case of both Functional Dyspepsia and Irritable Bowl Syndrome, although I don’t know the reason why yet.

It’s possible my test results won’t reveal anything conclusive like a viral or bacterial infection or other source. Which might actually be a best case scenario where I continue working on improving my gut health until it corrects itself.

Unfortunately both FD and IBS are both relatively common digestive disorders, so I’m suffering along with an estimated 15-20% of the U.S. population.

I’m THRILLED to report that the peppermint oil supplement WORKS!

Yes, even in my extreme case. 🙂

He told me to take two before each meal, so that’s where I started.

Gut Health - Over the Counter Solutions for IBS and Indigestion

I immediately noticed less of the usual symptoms while & after eating: burping, hiccups, stomach pain, abdominal pain, nausea, cramping, bloating, etc.

I wasn’t totally CURED, but did notice a DRAMATIC improvement.

Then I read the inserts and realized you’re meant to take two OF EACH before every meal (oops! lol) and am now taking all four.

IBS Natural Solutions for Gut Health - Peppermint Oil Supplement

I’m not out of the clear yet. I’m still eating cautiously, I’m taking the pretty purple & green pills, I’m still taking a laxative (as needed), and I’m patiently waiting on my test results and next appointment to discuss those.

But…

I drove home from that appointment feeling ecstatically HAPPY and full of HOPE after what felt like a neverending nightmare of pain & suffering.

The reassurance that I was doing everything right helped SO much, that calmed a lot of my stress. But having the all natural supplement AND armed with the idea of “retraining my gut” both gave me so much HOPE that I could actually get through this.

I left there with a VORACIOUS appetite too. 🙂

That’s literally the best I’ve felt in MONTHS, like I exhaled out loads of stress and tension and fear – and actually had permission to EAT, instead of fear and worry and stress/anxiety about eating.

Oh – speaking of eating, he recommended I stop taking the probiotic (which obviously hasn’t been helping) and start eating yogurt instead.

I went out later that day and picked up some Carbmaster low carb yogurt from Kroger. I’ve NEVER liked yogurt, but this is actually good.

Next I’m going to try the Two Good and Peak Yogurt too.

Low Carb Yogurt for Gut Health Issues

It’s especially delicious when you make it into a low carb yogurt parfait. 😍

Low Carb Yogurt Parfait

That’s low carb yogurt layered with blueberries, Blueberry Almond Butter from Legendary Foods, and Peanut Butter Macadamia Keto Cookie Clusters. My coupon code is LOWCARBTRAVELER for our discount on both.

* * * * *

In the “best case scenario” my guts simply have to heal and rebalance over time.

Unfortunately, as the doctor explained, this is VERY common following any dose of antibiotics OR any viral infection like a flu or cold. He said too that it takes 6-12 months to get it completely straightened out – and by then most people get sick again and the cycle starts all over, like it did with me.

I honestly didn’t realize HOW LONG these symptoms were present, or that they all pointed to a gut health issue. Not until it got REALLY BAD, meaning: totally unbearable.

Pay attention to the “little signs” and get in front of this if you start noticing those symptoms stack up on you.

Things like hair & nail quality, indigestion, IBS, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, mysterious weight gain and/or bloating, stomach or digestion issues, etc.

My Current Status

Right now I’m focusing on eating as well and as much as I can, but I’m not forcing myself to eat either. I eat when I’m hungry or something sounds good, and I don’t when I’m not or it doesn’t.

Fortunately I can eat any meat, eggs, dairy (cheese, heavy cream, yogurt, etc), nut butters, etc so I’m getting plenty of protein and fat & calories – and most days STILL eating more calories than the “calorie counters” do. 🙂 lol

Now that I’m taking both the FDgard and the IBgard I am having WAY less symptoms and way MORE relief, which has really helped.

That encouraged me to start testing other foods again – like vegetables.

Admittedly, that gives me extreme anxiety. To the point of closing in on a panic attack a couple of times and having to back off and do breathing exercises – and postpone that food test for another meal.

On Wednesday night I went to dinner with a friend and was feeling relaxed and hungry (both!), so I took my full dose of both peppermint oil supplement capsules and ate FOUR roasted brussel sprouts. (just four!)

While I didn’t end up doubled over in excruciating pain for four full days, I did SUFFER for two straight days – so vegetables are still iffy for now.

I did manage to eat some cauliflower rice this weekend without adverse effects (yet), but anytime I eat anything other than plain meat I get incredibly tired and feel like I have to lie down immediately (and do).

I get my lab results on Friday and I’ll go from there.

Meanwhile my goal is to take deep breaths, get through the days, eat what I can, rest well, and continue working toward better health.

* * * * *

Sidenote: MCT Oil is GREAT for overall gut health, but it also naturally raises your ketone levels. I’ve discovered that improves my carb tolerance, which allows me to try a wider variety of low carb foods I couldn’t enjoy before (things like sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) as I was so easily knocked out of ketosis before. So that gives me more options to try if I need to continue avoiding green vegetables for awhile.

Increasing Your Ketone Levels

Collagen is also great for gut health, in addition to improving my hair & nails, so I’ve continued using this collagen daily as well.

* * * * *

Thank you SO MUCH for your understanding, compassion, kindness, prayers, kind words, questions, ideas, stories & personal experiences – and just for being there with and for me through all of this. ❤️

I apologize this turned out so long, but at least it’s all in one place now…

Hopefully this clears up any confusion I may have caused along the way as the story unfolded – and sets your mind at ease that I have been and continue to diligently work on solutions and work with my doctors.

I should (hopefully!) have more concrete answers after my next appointment this Friday, when we review my lab results…

Am I nervous? Yes – but I’m forcing myself to focus on the moment I’m in, and NOT stress. Because stress and anxiety make my gut tighten up in painful fits! 🥴

Thoughts, comments or questions?

Best,
Lynn Terry,
aka @LowCarbTraveler

p.s. In case you’re interested in what I’m using: the Unflavored Collagen Powder, MCT C8/C10 Oil & collagen keto bars (plus the portable collagen packets I used on my trip) all came from Perfect Keto. My coupon is LOWCARBTRAVELER for our discount there.

Keto Collagen Packets - Keto Travel Packs

On the go I use the FBOMB MCT C8/C10 Oil packets and the Macadamia Nut Butter Packets. My coupon code is LOWCARBTRAVELER for all FBOMB products. Those are super clean and GREAT – all natural, real food.

I ordered the FDgard and IBgard from Amazon at those links.

instagram low carb @lowcarbtraveler @lowcarbtraveler pinterest low carb

 



Netrition – The Internet’s Premier Nutrition Superstore!


Low Carb Snack Box

 

About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
This entry was posted in Health Talk. Bookmark the permalink.

 

29 Responses to My Gut Health Saga & Gastroenterologist Appointment

  1. Connie Marie Bussey says:

    Oh WOW Lynn, I am so sorry to A) hear what you’ve been going through and B) the crap other people have given you!
    Sounds like you are on the right track to healing! Gut issues suck! Big time! You are such an inspiration to everyone and you shouldn’t need to validate anything that you do. You have to take care of you first, put self care at the top of your list.
    Thanks for sharing (it didn’t gross me out, I work in healthcare bahahaha) …

  2. Becky says:

    Wow! You have been through the wringer! I admire your tenacity in trying to figure out what was going on. You took an active role in getting to the bottom of your problems. The constant trying one food then another to figure out what was happening and documenting what you were eating/not eating must have been tedious. Glad you are doing better. And you didn’t gross me out either! Thanks for taking the time to post your ordeal.

  3. Wendy says:

    So glad you’re figuring out a way to get everything running smoothly again, Lynn! I’ve been lowcarb for two years now, and I have noticed an increasing sensitivity to vegetables too! Not nearly your level of symptoms and suffering, thank goodness. But I can definitely tell that my whole system is irritated when I eat vegetables vs. when I don’t. I’ve always been prone to IBS symptoms though, so it’s not really anything new for me. Fiber and I have a tense relationship, that’s all. LOL I’ve noticed that certain vegetables are okay, like the high water content ones like iceberg lettuce and cucumbers, as well as my beloved avocados! Otherwise, I stick to meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt. I also have to carefully watch my fat intake, so no full blown keto for me, and absolutely NO MCT or coconut oil. Those will make me take up permanent residence in the bathroom, as well as completely stalling my weight loss. Our bodies are so wise, and they will tell us everything we need to know about which foods they want, and which they absolutely do not want. We just have to listen, or suffer the consequences. 😉 Those peppermint supplements sound amazing, I’ll have to look into them.

    • Tracey Mack says:

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this ordeal. It sounds like you went to the right doctor and hopefully he will help you get to a full recovery from this.

      Tracey M

  4. Glynda Turner says:

    I too am so sorry you have been going through all this. I pray you are now on the road to recovery!! Take care of YOU first! Thanks for all your posts, etc.

  5. Amand says:

    Hey Lynn,
    I wonder if the IBD is related to SIBO? I suffered from that for years, couldn’t eat a ton of things, tried every elimination diet under the sun, hair loss and breakage. I finally cured it by taking betaine HCL tablets with each meal for a year, then I was fine. Just something to look into. My gastric didn’t diagnose me with that either, he said try low fodmap (with no success. Ironically an animal nutritionist recommended it. I guess it’s common in animals too.

  6. Anita says:

    So sorry about what you’re going through. Hopefully you’re on the right track to healing. I think you are amazing and I continue to learn so much from you.

  7. Judy WILLIAMS says:

    So sorry that you are having all these problems – the Mom in me is worried about you but it seems that you are doing all the right things!
    Please keep us posted on your progress – praying for your recovery!
    Judy

  8. Marie Cook says:

    Lynn, You have been such an inspiration to me! I have fought my weight since puberty! I would be so jealous of my sister’s being able to eat way food, and not gain at all. I would eat very little and be gaining weight! So unfair! I need to stay under 800 calories in order to lose weight. I do avoid sugars and eat low carb. That has helped me. I’ve had plenty on health issues as well. I’ve had my gall bladder removed, complete hysterectomy, colon polyps removed several times, appendix and part of my colon removed. Recently, I’ve been having indigestion and gerd. I may try the peppermint supplements! I’ve been eating yogurt and using Miralax daily since all the intestinal issues. They work for me. Now I need to work on the upper GI to correct the indigestion/heartburn stuff! I love that you research so thoroughly! Keep your chin up, you are doing many of us a great service! Thank you!!

  9. Jess L says:

    Praying you get answers and have peace. This is a lot and it makes it hard to function with stress and anxiety. You are really doing a great job managing and investigating everything. 🙂

  10. Kelly says:

    Did your Dr. ever mention the problems that antibiotics can cause? I got very ill from taking them. So bad that I really hate the thought of ever having to take them again. I ended up with C-diff. What a nightmare! I am fine now. I take probiotics now to help with keeping good gut bacteria. Very important.

    • Cindi says:

      Kelly, C-diff is what my hubby has and it is a total nightmare! Glad you’re okay now. Thanks for giving me hope he’ll recover eventually.

  11. Cindi says:

    Sorry some folks are being trolls, Lynn. You know your body and what works for you and what doesn’t. Glad you found a good gastro doctor. Thank you for sharing your experience. My hubby was hospitalized six days last week for a horrible intestinal bacterial infection caused by antibiotics. He’s now on home quarantine for two weeks. Miserable condition so I have an idea what you’ve been enduring. Hang in there. You’re a strong lady and will conquer this. Hugs!

  12. Arlene says:

    wow..you’ve really been thru the mill! sounds like you & your doctor are getting a handle on it now tho. wishing you the very best! sidebar…some people are the worst, don’t even read the negative comments!

  13. Lisa Long says:

    I too have been sick on and off for the past several months with the same symptoms. Flu back in December first week..it was the one that lasted 10 days and then still hung in there for weeks afterwards with cough and congestion…it was going around and everyone I know has had it and it continues to go around some more to this day. My husband got it in March, I got it again in April but not as bad as it was back in December. I got sick again but not as bad as April in June. I have had the nausea for weeks now. I have not been to any doctors for any of these past three times of being sick. I drink Kefir which is like a yogurt but has much more friendly cultures that heal our intestines than yogurt does. Kefir or yogurt are also good to eat or drink when you have a yeast infection. Kefir also helps to clean out the digestive track so no need for laxatives. Please try some Kefir..it comes in different flavors and drink about 6 to 8 ounces in the morning each day for several days. You will notice a difference. Another thing…I have GERD and IBS so bad that I have had surgery to repair my sphincter…the flap that holds your food and acid down..mine was completely broken due to all the acid reflux over many years since I was about 8 years old up into my 30’s. Also my esophagus was closing off from all that acid coming back up due to the sphincter being broken. Doctor treated me for pneumonia from Oct. 1999 through the last day of March in 2000..every antibiotic out there and nothing was curing my “pneumonia”…..I googled and found out that GERD mimics asthma..oh yeah…was told I had asthma too…anywhooo…printed out information to take to doctor..was referred to a specialist and more specialist for tests to rule out this that and that too. Finally had a laparoscopy on that last day of March 2000 while also having a colonoscopy..both at the same time. The laparoscopy pushed the severe scar tissue aside that was in my esophagus which cleared up my supposed pneumonia immediately..see…airways were closing..couldn’t breathe normally. The colonoscopy was fine and clear. But that esophagus had created a lot of proglems that had to be worked on. After more testing..finally had surgery to rebuild my sphincter and repair a huge softball size hiatal hernia. My surgeon told me that the biggest hiatal hernia he had repaired in the past was the size of two fingertips which is what most folks have when they have them. Mine was the largest he had ever seen. IBS comes with GERD..that’s normal for GERD folks. So, get you some Kefir, it works wonders when you need it. Learn to like it if you don’t..saying because you said you didn’t like yogurt so much. I get the blueberry or strawberry Kefir….it’s in the same section with the yogurts in most stores. I shop Aldi and they even have it in the section close to the yogurts. About your trying to add vegetables again….do not eat brussel sprouts, cabbage, turnip greens, collard greens, kale or spinach….all of these produce the problems you are already having so no wonder you can’t eat them without being in pain for days later….especially brussel sprouts and cabbage. How about try a green bean next. Just one or two or even three or more. My heart goes out to you on your journey to better health. I was told by different doctors that were of no use after trying all their snake oils…none of the GERD medications worked for me..some have been recalled and taken off of the market nowadays by the way. Prilosec is still around and it would help but not much..I was too far gone for years. Get some Kefir!

  14. Wendy Herman says:

    Please google: KEFIR instead of yogurt and its INCREDIBLE properties for gut health. Also, for yeast, bad gut of any kind, colds, flu’s, etc. google: OIL OF OREGANO. (I have a great trusted brand if you want the info – available on amazon). Also, for everyday immunity against EVERYTHING Google: OLIVE LEAF and its properties. (I have a great trusted brand if you want the info – available on amazon). With these above items added into your day you will never have to take anti-biotics again – everything listed is ALL natural. Nature CURES all! Good luck.

  15. Becky says:

    As a long ago sufferer from anxiety and panic attacks, I totally totally sympathize with what you’re going through . There is not much worse than dealing with those terrible feelings of anxiousness, depression, and fear. Then those feelings themselves cause more and more fear that some horrible physical disease is lurking in your body causing all your various symptoms….causing more anxiety and panic. It’s a seemingly never ending spiral which is just plain miserable! Your description of your relief when leaving your doctor’s office is so typical of the panic and anxiety being caused by fear of your own mortality. Once that relief breaks the cycle of the spiral, you do feel so much better but know that you haven’t solved the problem of cause. But you are doing a good job of staying on it and trying to find out the why. I eventually got a pretty good handle on mine but if I get sick or worried about my own health, the old feelings come bursting back until I once again get negative test results. Good luck, Lynn…keep digging for the cause.

  16. Dora A. says:

    So sorry you have had to suffer through this miserable ordeal. It’s too bad doctors are still guilty of inappropriately prescribing antibiotics for colds and flus.These are VIRAL illnesses and antibiotics have no effect on them. They only work on bacterial infections. But antibiotics indiscriminately destroy beneficial gut flora along with the pathogens, so even one short-term treatment with antibiotics can really wreak havoc on your microbiome. Once you have a chronic digestive illness that you can’t seem to shake, you naturally become increasingly anxious and depressed. Your emotional stress contributes to your illness, and you’re caught in a vicious cycle. (Been there, done that.) The only thing that finally worked for me (and for thousands of others with intractable digestive illnesses) was the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet.) I highly recommend the book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall. (There’s also a website: http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/). Dr. Gotschall explains the science behind chronic digestive illnesses and offers a dietary protocol that really works for IBS, Crohns disease, Colitis, etc. Wishing you all the best…good health & happiness. Thanks for all your posts…you are truly inspirational.

  17. Joyce K Becker says:

    Glad you are getting some relief. I too have issues with acid reflux, indigestion, right after eating
    bloating, diarrhea then constipation. I haven’t a gall bladder, removed 34 years ago. Looking at leaky gut and lectin issues just trying to find answers. Until I find a Dr. that doesn’t have issues with me doing keto.

  18. Pingback: IBgard & FDgard (I spoke too soon…) | Traveling Low Carb

  19. Sarah says:

    Just to let you know. Gallbladder stones or a sick gallbladder (think appendicitis like) cannot be ruled out by a physical exam.

    You would need to have an ultrasound and if that is clear they would still need to do a HIDA scan and if that’s clear THEN your gallbladder can be ruled out.

    The gastroenterologist can believe it’s not the gallbladder but he’s not being honest with you if he ruled it out without a scan.

    I did two years of relentless nausea. Got down to 90 lbs. H pylori. Scoped to find it.

  20. Lynn says:

    Lynn, check out this review on the Zicam rapid melts. Very interesting. I know people have had issues with the nasal spay and swaps too, like losing ability to taste and smell, but this comment is about Rapid Melts and lasting intestinal issues. I’m only sending this because you mentioned the Zicam and how it made you feel. Not saying it’s the underlying cause, but probably didn’t help things..

    https://www.consumeraffairs.com/rx/zicam.html?#sort=recent&filter=1

    Rated with 1 star
    Michael of Fredericksburg, VA
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: Oct. 9, 2017
    Be warned. On October 4, I followed the directions and every 3 hours administered the required dose. After the first 24 hours of taking the Rapidmelts, my tongue, stomach and throat were giving me problems. The constant lingering stomach pains, feelings of a raw throat and the back of my tongue feels as though it’s burned (from drinking a hot liquid). So, on October 5, I immediately switched over to the oral spray and religiously continued to administer the required dosage for two more days. By Friday afternoon around 5:00 pm, I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped using the product. Now, after I discontinued use 3 days ago, all of the above symptoms continue and are now preventing me from sleeping through the night.

    I tried ** and ** to sooth my stomach, but nothing is working. Drinking a lot of water to flush it out of my system, but that’s not working either. The risk of taking Zicam is not worth any possible reward to end my cold faster. Now I have to go see a doctor because I’m worried Zicam caused permanent intestinal and throat damage to any otherwise very active and healthy adult male. I feel miserable. And, based on what I read from others, this product should be discontinued. Way too risky!

  21. Jill says:

    Hi Terry,

    Thank you for sharing your ‘adventure’. You showed great tenacity in not giving up and sticking to your guns – you know what isn’t working for you. I have had a similar ongoing drama with my gut – not nearly as bad as yours – following pneumonia treated with steroids and antibiotics, and continuing with 2 dental surgeries and more antibiotics. My gut flora was wrecked! Two things helped, 1 is easy to find – the other, not so much. The first was inulin fiber. It has to be specifically inulin fiber – it feeds the good bacteria in your lower gut area and can resolve leaky gut syndrome, IBS, etc. As to what form…I have found it only in gummies and in one brand of bread. I either eat a gummy or a half a slice of this bread every day to try to slowly restore my gut population without overdoing it on the carbs.

    The second thing was poi – that’s right, the traditional dish from Hawaii. If you remember it was one of the things that kept people with leprosy alive. It is so soothing and healing on the digestive tract. Even though its a carb, I would eat one to 2 tablespoons on days when I couldn’t eat anything. Kind of like you do with the MCT oil.

    I almost forgot. Once I was feeling a little bit more balanced, I would occasionally add a spoonful of honey mixed with garlic. Honey is very not-KETO, I know, but I was desperate and it was an old trick that I used to use when I had laryngitis but had to keep talking. I did not do this long-term, only when I got to the end of the day and realized I’d only consumed about 500 calories, and needed more. The honey is soothing and they both are anti-microbial without damaging good gut flora.

    My goal was to get my gut biome back to healthy. If that meant temporarily eating honey, bread, or poi, but in very moderated amounts, that was o.k. My mindset was that once I got my stomach back on track, then I could recalibrate my diet.

    I hope you are feeling better! There is nothing, I mean nothing, worse than travelling with an untrustworthy stomach.

  22. Jill says:

    *I meant Lynn. So sorry.

  23. Sharon Merrihew says:

    sharonmerrihew
    Hi Lynn,
    I follow you faithfully and love your transparency and no nonsense character.
    That said, I too have had symptoms much the same as yours and am looking forward with you second visit with your Gasto doctor and what he found through the blood tests and his diagnosis. When will that be available?
    Please, keep up the good work.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Thank you Sharon. 🙂

      I posted a follow-up here: https://www.travelinglowcarb.com/25234/keto-gut-health-ibs/ All of my tests came back clear – no cancer, infections, no major organ failure or other problems.

      The doctor said I have functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome most likely caused from the virus or the antibiotics. Either way, the FDgard and IBgard are helping A LOT.

      In addition to those all natural supplements he recommended I continue with the elimination diet & testing, and that it may take up to 6 months for my digestive system to heal and get back to normal.

      Meanwhile I am eating VERY cautiously, introducing foods one at a time (usually once per week) and seeing what I can tolerate or what doesn’t cause a miserable flare-up.

      I highly recommend the supplements, they work VERY well – and I love that they’re all natural. You can read more on those and my “part two” update here: https://www.travelinglowcarb.com/25234/keto-gut-health-ibs/

  24. Pingback: Are Sweet Potato Fries Keto Friendly? (Maybe…) | Traveling Low Carb

  25. karen Shaw says:

    I am going to check out the Unflavored Collagen Powder. Some of the medications i take special methotrexate can make your hair fall out. . I have psoriasis and it effects my nails, they crack from the psoriasis. Some one told me to put coconut oil on them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *