I mentioned in this post that I am working with my naturopath again, and it feels really good. I’ve been working with Antonella (in conjunction with allopathic practitioners) for about two years; it has been entirely enlightening for how I view my personal health and wellbeing.
Why did I start to work with her again? Frankly, I haven’t been feeling my best, physically or mentally, the past few months: reoccurring GI issues, low mood, fatigue. I have also been curious to retest for SIBO, as I tested positive in March 2017 and I have a gut feeling that I may still have it.
Antonella and I began by running a bunch of tests to get a baseline of where I’m at today. I did the GI-MAP™, a variety of blood work, and the dreaded 3-hour hydrogen/methane breath test for SIBO. I texted my best friend the other night about my results (she’s a Registered Dietitian and loves to talk about poop and GI stuff just as much as I do), and her exact response was: “OMG! How is that possible?”
We are still waiting on the SIBO results, but the results from the GI-MAP™ test were intensely revealing in understanding why I don’t feel stellar. Essentially, the tests concluded that my gut has HIGH levels of bad bacteria, LOW levels of good bacteria, a parasite, Candida, a trace of Salmonella, and very low IgA levels (marker of over-stressed immunity and related to autoimmunity), among others.
Plus, there were a handful of items on my blood work that weren’t in ideal range either, including markers related to my liver, and kidneys.
…and did I mention that there is still a high possibility I have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)?
At this point, you’re probably thinking, what the heck? Just like my BFF. I mean, health and wellness is engraved into my lifestyle. I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, I am a certified health coach, I exercise rigorously by habit, and I fill my reusable farmer’s market bags with kale and fermented sauerkraut.
I’ll be honest and say yes, it can undoubtedly be overwhelming. I could look at these new findings and tell myself that I am not well, that I am sick. Or, aligning with Antonella’s perspective, I can look at it as though I am refining my health… as I have been so diligently doing for oh so many years.
If you’re new here, or don’t know this part of my story, I had E.coli 0157:H7 at age 7 and was hospitalized for three weeks with acute renal failure (both of my kidneys completely shut down, my body was toxic). It nearly cost me my young, precious life. But, with the perseverance and resilience of my strong 45-pound body and team of incredible doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland, I am here today – 22 years later – to embrace that this incident and life-altering event is a piece of my story, not the end of my story.
My mom always says that I was a different little girl when I came home from the hospital than when I was admitted. I was cautious, reserved, and much more apprehensive of the world… a 180 degree difference from the goofy, vivacious girl I’d been. I was scared and I was scarred, not only physically from being on dialysis for two weeks, but emotionally.
It has taken me years of therapy to begin to understand the trauma that’s resided in my body for the following 22 years. It is only just beginning to make sense — the puzzle pieces are kinda sorta fitting together.
You see, I have seen more doctors for nearly every part of my body in my 29 years than most people will visit in their lifetime. I’ve become immune to doctor’s offices, filling out extensive medical history forms, getting pricked for at the lab, sending results to specialists for a second opinion, paying insurance bills… and waiting impatiently for anticipated diagnostic results.
You could call me a hypochondriac or hyper-focused on my health, and while that may be true too, I wouldn’t have spent significant time of the past two decades sitting anxiously in the waiting room of another doctor’s office if there was nothing to write a chart note about.
I have cried many tears wondering why I don’t feel my best, why I have elevated liver enzymes, why I had a suspicious mass in my breast that was biopsied and is being monitored, why my whole body has broken out in mysterious rashes, why?
Everything is coming into focus now. I am wholeheartedly grateful to be treated by incredible physicians who have taken the time and energy to understand my full medical history, my story, and not exclude my significant past from the current symptom or ailment of precedence.
These doctors have helped me to see that while I left that hospital in October of 1996 walking on my two feet with both of my kidneys functioning, my battle with E.coli wrecked havoc on my gastrointestinal and immune systems, leaving my body more susceptible and sensitive than perhaps the person next to me. That is why this is possible.
I won’t and I can not tell myself that I am sick. For I am not. I am healthy, strong, and resilient AF. I get to hike mountains, sweat through high-intensity Orangetheory workouts, travel the world, run with my dog, have nights out with girlfriends (oh, how I miss these so!). What I can do is continue working on accepting, as my dear mom explains, that I just may have to manage my wellbeing more meticulously than the next person. My bout with E.coli 0157:H7 was traumatizing in every sense: it scared the shit out of me and my family, and understandably forever left a mark on my delicate inner machinery… but it also gifted me immeasurable strength to endure challenges of the next 22 years (and the many many years ahead).
The mental battle of all this is the toughest, as I do everything to attend to my wellbeing day and night. The mental battle of wanting to be a helpful health coach to other women when I have imbalances myself. The mental battle of spending years in higher education studying nutrition, holistic health, and the human body… and not being able to heal myself without extra professional support. Because of this, I have spent far too much time getting in my own damn way.
Hi, I’m Hillary. I am refining my health, but I am not defined by my health.