In January 2015 I was diagnosed with SIBO. By July 2015 I had received my all-clear diagnosis. For the past 3 years, I've immersed myself in all things gut health, with a particular focus on trying to understand why I developed SIBO in the first place.
Over the past few years, I've changed my life considerably. I've cleaned up my diet, stopped drinking alcohol regularly, and invested a lot of time, energy and finances on recovering my health. This past December I went away for Christmas, staying with my partner's family. I have been able to eat a bit of gluten, dairy and sugar on occasion since clearing my SIBO, so I decided I would eat what was available rather than making special meals for myself. Anyone with SIBO knows the drudgery of being that person who has to eat special meals. After a while, you get sick of it, and I just wanted to feel like a regular person without any dietary restrictions.
Me with my SIBO test kit from SIBOtest.com
After 10 days of eating gluten, dairy, sugar and drinking waaaaay more alcohol than I'm used to, I was feeling pretty rotten. It's not surprising, as those things are quite toxic to the body and I was asking my body to process them every day. I was bloating most days (hello 6 months pregnant looking woman!), I had horrible heartburn by the end of the holiday, I felt exhausted and cranky, and my constipation had returned. I was extremely conscious of how I was feeling and was concerned my SIBO had returned. At the same time, I was watching with interest. I see myself as a science experiment of one, and I like to test things out and see how I handle them.
In early January I had the results from my uBiome Explorer test come back. I also had a long-awaited appointment with the amazing Dr Jason Hawrelak, and I booked in to see my naturopath Natalie Cruttenden so I could discuss how I'd felt over the Christmas break. My uBiome Explorer results showed my gut diversity is sitting at 62%. It could be worse, but I've got a lot of work to do to feed some of those bacteria colonies to improve my diversity score. To do that, I need to increase my prebiotics and certain foods, which don't make you feel good when you have SIBO. Check out my wrap-up video on what my treatment plan is.
We all agreed that the first step for me would be to re-test for SIBO. That way we would know if it was safe to proceed with the increase in prebiotic foods, or if the first step would be to clear the overgrowth of bacteria in my small intestine. Dr Jason Hawrelak also wanted me to test for coeliac disease. I'll be sharing a future blog about this.
Why I'm retesting for SIBO
Since my original diagnosis, I have been on a steep learning curve, trying to uncover why I developed SIBO. I even flew myself to the US to attend the SIBO Symposium Conference and the Synergy Integrated SIBO Conference. While I was at the SIBO Symposium, I listened to Larry Wurn from Clear Passage Physical Therapies speak about the role adhesions play in SIBO development and relapse. Larry was my light bulb moment. I nearly burst into tears, as I realised I was most likely full of adhesions after several abdominal surgeries and inflammation from endometriosis and SIBO. I have since had Larry Wurn assess me and confirm I do have adhesions, with a large mass, the size of a head of broccoli, sitting around my ileocecal valve. If you suspect adhesions could be an issue for you, check out my interview with Larry and Belinda Wurn where they explain what they are, how they form and how they treat them.
This little valve plays an important role and sits at the juncture of the small and large intestine. It should stop bacteria and matter from flowing back up from the large intestine into the small intestine, but in people like me, it can be prevented from doing its job. Thus, I am more prone to SIBO relapses while those adhesions remain present.
My lactulose SIBO breath test kit ready to go on the day of testing
Because I now know I have adhesions, it's even more important for me to remain vigilant about how I'm feeling. SIBO symptoms can return quickly with a vengeance, or they can slowly creep up on you, like they have for me. The results of the SIBO breath test will be extremely interesting. Has my change in diet and lifestyle helped support my small intestine enough to remain SIBO-free, or have my adhesions put it back to where it was?
I'll be sharing my progress as I discover my results. Make sure you've signed up to receive my blogs as I release them, so you can be the first to know if I'm SIBO free or not.
The most important thing for me is not whether I have SIBO, but that I now have the knowledge to know what to do about it. I won't see a positive breath test result as being a massive step backwards, but a reminder that my journey to improved health is ongoing, and that I've got other work to do (like treatment on my adhesions this coming March). I'm not the scared woman I was 3 years ago, fearing I was on my way to cancer. Today, I'm strong and empowered and approach my health with interest and intrigue. I love that I am my own walking science experiment and that my body is encouraging me to continue learning long after I left school.
Want to learn more about SIBO?
Registrations are now open for the 2018 Integrative SIBO Conference. Held on 7-8 April 2018 in New Orleans, you can attend in person or via webinar.