Oh my, it has been a day. Last night, I wrote up a long winded post basically whining about how absolutely terrible I felt. I feel almost consistently bloated, moody/depressed, run down, unable to fall asleep nightly, sore all over, breaking out in tiny dry eczema patches and currently dealing with three freaking canker sores, a problem that went away when I went dairy free, not to mention the stubborn dregs of acne that I just cannot completely banish. I decided not to post it though, because there was really no point. It was just a vent session and I felt like a hypochondriac, inventing a ton of potential conditions, and I wanted to hold off until I could read it through and either add something useful, or decide that it was necessary to share. That was yesterday.
Today, I woke feeling vibrant, energetic and cheerful. I was literally jittery with energy all day and kept wondering if I had unknowingly consumed a ton of caffeine Only one thing changed that I can identify: last night at 9pm, I made sure my alarm was set and then put down my phone. I picked up an old paperback and read until 10, at which time my eyes were getting droopy and I was genuinely ready to sleep. My mind was blown. I can't take credit for this phenomenon. I discovered the other day that I can multitask well enough at work to listen to some badass health podcasts and still get shit done. I spent yesterday obsessively listening to The Nourished Podcast and Harder to Kill Radio. On The Nourished, NTP Shawn Mynar (known as Well Belly), dropped a knowledge bomb on me when she described symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue as being unable to shut the brain down at night to fall asleep and equally unable to wake up in the morning. My brain went "DING!" as this is a struggle I've been having for months after never previously having trouble sleeping before. I simply attributed it to a) not expending enough energy during the day to be tired at night and b) not liking my job or waking up before the sun. I decided to try the simplest of her suggestions, which is to avoid electronics an hour before bed. I usually relax in bed or on the couch catching up on Instagram or reading a book on my iPad. Unfortunately, even a relaxing book can sabotage you on an electric screen. It's that simple. Do you have trouble sleeping? Try it out. I promise, you won't die.
One of the other interesting things she said was about the CAUSE of adrenal fatigue, which is chronic stress. I currently have the least stressful job, relationship and home situation of my adult life, but what else I have been dealing with is an undiagnosed gut disorder that has me in near constant discomfort and frustration. The physical stress of a gut imbalance can be just as harmful to the cortisol levels, so I am gladly going to take on some of the coping mechanisms suggested by Shawn and Meg (the hosts of The Nourished), which include putting away electronics, as well as baths, meditation and magnesium. I'm so looking forward to a great night's sleep again.
Another thing happened today. I got THE call from my doctor's office. My much awaited 10 vials of blood work came back and I actually had a hit. I haven't seen the doctor for details yet, but I was informed that I have H pylori (and NOT candida, yay!), which I have since been doing some furious Googling about as I had NO idea what that was. It wasn't even on my radar of suspected (based purely on self-diagnosis) conditions. Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria found in the stomach that is a cause of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and stomach ulcers. Interestingly, chronic low stomach acid appears to be a contributing factor to the occurrence of H pylori as it does not thrive in the acidic environment of the stomach; plus, H pylori suppresses stomach acid further, in order for it to survive. I have been reacting well to things like ACV and I took 9 Betaine HCL pills with dinner with no reaction, so I am quite sure that low stomach acid is still a problem for me and I plan to continue treating myself as such.
I also read that lactic acid (as found in dairy products) suppresses H pylori, which I found interesting, because these gut problems have been slowly developing the last two years or so, AFTER I went paleo, started eating healthier and, most importantly, cut dairy. Interesting, huh?
I'm looking forward to meeting with my doctor to find out more details and discuss treatment. The most common treatment is a 3 pronged approach of 2 antibiotics and an antacid. I am NOT excited about taking antibiotics and plan to discuss more thoroughly with her about how likely it is that I need to follow that protocol, or whether I can try the natural approach first. As for an antacid, I refuse to budge there. The belief is that its best to reduce the stomach acid levels temporarily to allow the inflammation to heal, but I'd rather not take that risk, as I have read in many places that higher stomach acid levels help banish the H pylori faster and for good.
Whatever answers/medications I get from my doctor, I plan to bring straight to my naturopath to get her opinion. If they are in agreement about using the antibiotics to banish the bacteria, then I am confident the naturopath will be able to work with me on rebuilding my gut flora afterwards. Antibiotics don't discriminate, they will kill ALL the bacteria in my gut, good and bad. If I can avoid the antibiotics, then I look forward to working with my naturopath on natural treatment methods.
It's weird to be excited, right? But, I'm frankly relieved. I have answers, I have direction. Now, I can focus on healing. The moral of the story, kids: YOU know your body better than your doctor. If something feels wrong, especially chronically, do not let anyone tell you to take X meds for the rest of your life or ignore it. I refused to take "here's more heartburn meds" for an answer and now I have a REAL answer, and a cure on the horizon. Soon, I can stop surviving and start THRIVING.
EDIT today 8/7/15:
Just saw my primary care doc this morning to go over test results. I have a new respect for her as she rubbed me the wrong way last time, but today, she seemed much more thorough and considerate. As to my H pylori result, this was a basic test that says it is in my system, but she wants to do further testing (poop samples, yay!) to discover the extent. It could be an old infection that I just need to eradicate fully and she has given me the go ahead to pursue natural healing. I also need to up my probiotic game and get to fully reintroduce ferments as well as begin a probiotic supplement. They also checked dairy, which is still a definite no go (a fact I already knew, but it's nice to get confirmation). I'm excited to meet up with my naturopath and pursue fully healing my gut and becoming the best me possible.