Living with SIBO

This last year as I shared in my previous post, has been crazy! It’s been about love, marriage, and SIBO. If you recall, I had to make some drastic changes in my life the last part of 2017 due to an unexpected diagnosis. I have been suffering for probably the past five years with some very uncomfortable symptoms, and really longer than that with what I thought was normal for me. The past four years have been really difficult for me emotionally which did not help me physically. Truthfully goes back farther than that. Our family has gone through some major changes in the last ten years.

Changes? Well let me try to summarize them for you:

  • In 2007 we took in our five nieces and nephews, growing our family from five to ten. Click the link here to hear the details of that story.
  • In 2010 we all moved from Oregon to Arizona and added my mother-in-law to the family. Now a family of eleven! I am sure you can imagine the challenges of taking on five more children and all eleven of us living under one roof.
  • In 2013 my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, this was the most devastating news I have ever received. Cancer took his life only two short years later in November 2015. I miss him so much…
  • 2017 our three children, LaJourdain Jr, Dante and Camille all got married! February 18th, May 6th, and May 20th. It was crazy, stressful and wonderful all at the same time. We are so happy to have Rikki, Emma, and Blake as part of our family now. We love them so much.
  • August of 2017 I was diagnosed with SIBO, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

What is SIBO? Below is information about SIBO from Dr. Siebecker’s site:

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth is an accumulation of bacteria in the small intestine.  The overgrowth is of bacteria that normally live in the gastrointestinal tract but have abnormally overgrown in a location not meant for so many bacteria.

The Problem
The bacteria interfere with our normal digestion and absorption of food and are associated with damage to the lining or membrane of the SI (leaky gut syndrome, which I prefer to call leaky SI in this case).

  • They consume some of our food which over time leads to deficiencies in their favorite nutrients such as iron and B12, which can cause anemia or chronic low ferritin.
  • They consume food unable to be absorbed due to SI lining damage, which continues the overgrowth (a vicious cycle).
  • After eating our food, they produce gas/ expel flatus, within our SI.  The gas causes abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or both (the symptoms of IBS).  Excess gas can also cause belching and flatulence.
  • They decrease proper fat absorption by deconjugating bile, which can lead to deficiencies of vitamins A & D and fatty stools.
  • Through the damaged lining, larger food particles not able to be fully digested, can enter into the body which the immune system can react to.  This can cause food allergies/ sensitivities.
  • Bacteria themselves can also enter the body/bloodstream.  Immune system reaction to bacteria and their cell walls (endotoxin) can cause chronic fatigue and body pain and burden the liver.
  • Finally, the bacteria excrete acids which may, in high amounts lead to neurological and cognitive symptoms.

Although I am happy to finally know what is going on with my body and that I can treat it. I must say,  from the diagnosis through treatment has not been a walk in the park,. Not to mention, I am not even done yet. My journey with SIBO has been eye-opening, to say the least. I had never heard of SIBO; I didn’t know what to attribute my symptoms too. My GI doc scheduled me for a colonoscopy due to my symptoms and my Dads family history of cancer but she basically poo poo’ed my symptoms as “normal.” After my clean colonoscopy, she just said I was good and come back in five years. So not helpful!

Fortunately, I was already seeing a naturopath, Dr. Leila Turner, we discussed my symptoms and the possible diagnoses. She suggested due to my symptoms I should take the SIBO breath test. The breath test is a 3-hour long test. I did mine at home, and every 20 minutes I had to blow into a tube, eight tubes all together. I sent my test in and met with my doctor a few weeks later to find out it was positive. She warned me it was going to be hard to treat and I would have to make some changes to my diet. Yikes, it was some major changes to my diet. I was frustrated and overwhelmed when I began my treatment. But I researched my condition like crazy, joined Facebook groups, and watched webinars on it.  With my doctor’s guidance and a great nutritionist, I found through my research from Portland, Oregon, Riley Wimminger,  I was able to master how to eat and enjoy it!

One huge part of having SIBO and managing it besides diet is stress. As you can see I have had a lot of stress and some other very emotional stress I can’t share here. On top of what I have told you, this recent stress sent me over the edge. So knowing that stress can only make my condition worse, I have been working hard to manage it. I know you can not alleviate stress altogether, but one thing I have learned is that it doesn’t do me any good to stress over what I cannot control. Do you do that?

This man is my happiness!

We have to think about what we are stressing about and ask ourselves, “can I control this?” Is this something I can change? A lot of my stress has come from things I do not have control over, and people who I can’t change the way the way they feel about something. So I have had to let it go and move on so to speak. I know! I know! It is easier said than done.

Here are a few tips I have found helpful. I hope they help you too.

1. Can I control this?
Examine the things you do have control over. You can’t prevent a natural disaster, but you can prepare for it. If your plane is delayed, ask yourself can I control the fact that I won’t get home until midnight? Nope!
You can’t control how someone else behaves or feels about you, but you can control how you react. Sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. You will fare much better if you put your energy into what you can control.

2. Perspective
If you find yourself getting worked up about something you can’t change. Think about it like this: is this really a big deal, will it impact my week, this month or the year? Sometimes it might genuinely be a very significant situation. But a lot of the time you’ll realize that the thing you’re stressing about isn’t even all that big a deal.

3. Acceptance
We need to accept our imperfections. When we get rid of the idea that we have to be perfect, whether it’s in our job, our family or our relationships, it will make life a lot easier to accept. I am not saying that will be easy, it definitely takes time and experience, and I am still working on it!

4. Embrace Change
Major life events, we have all had them, and they can really impact your life. I am not one of those people who like change. I would like life to stay the same. But the reality is that life is about change, we have to grow up. Places and people don’t stay the same. Parents grow older, get sick, and we lose them, homes we grew up in are sold, and some of us have to make room for new family members. (that’s our family!) Often life works out in ways we absolutely never expect, and when we are embracing these changes, rather than fighting them, we will make our life much more manageable.

5. Plan “B”
My husband has always talked about plan “B”, in all aspects of life! One of the reasons why I love him so much. Sometimes your first plan, “plan A,” doesn’t work out and you have to “call an audible” as my husband would say and embrace plan B. So when plan A doesn’t work, run with plan “B” like it was your plan “A”! 🙂

6. Reaction
How will your response to a situation affect you? While this is not always fun or easy if I truly think about my reaction it helps calm me down and be more accepting of the situation. When something disappointing happens that is out of our control; we can remind ourselves there are two ways of dealing with this: worry and be frustrated, or move on and find pleasure in something else. We only hurt ourselves when we stay in that frustrated mode.

You may have a health condition you can only do so much to control, like when my dad was battling cancer or with my own diagnosis of SIBO, but the rest is out of your control. You do everything you can to treat your condition so as to get the best outcome, but the rest is up to your body. We have to ask ourselves, is undue stress over this going to make me better or worse? I can tell you with my own diagnosis; it only makes it worse. Love and live the best life you can with what has been handed to you. Even if you can’t see it right now, there is always something positive to focus on. Try to find that!

I would love to hear any tips that work for you in the comment section!

If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days. – Kris Carr