Thursday, October 4, 2018

Faith for the Journey: Choosing what is better

I had a realization this morning while cooking breakfast.

In thinking about life after treatment for multiple GI issues and hormone imbalances, I wondered about how to not backslide into the old bad habits that led to poor health in the first place.

I worry that if I eventually have more energy again, that I will go back to trying to do allllll the things and then some, that I’ll go back to eating poorly, that I will put some other thing or activity in place of God again.

These thoughts came up in a counseling session a few weeks back, and my counselor assured me it would be quite hard for me to backslide that hard and forget everything I have been learning.

I try not to allow these thoughts air-time in my brain for very long, but I feel them in the background gnawing at me.

A few months back I had an encounter with Mary of Bethany. She appears in three different stories of the Bible, and in each story, she is at the feet of Jesus. Ever since I read all three stories I keep thinking about her.

I keep being drawn back to one single verse about Mary in Luke 10:42. Jesus and his disciples were on their way somewhere when Martha opened her home to them. Martha was busy preparing the food for all her guests, and was frustrated that her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his teachings and not helping her with the preparations. When Martha asked Jesus to get Mary to help her, he told Martha she was upset about many things… “but few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Mary has chosen what is better.

Mary CHOSE.

She didn’t trip and fall near Jesus, then just sit there. She wasn’t there by accident.

Mary CHOSE what was better! 

AND! 

It would not be taken from her.

My realization this morning was this:

In life after treatment, I can also choose what is better!

AND!

It will not be taken away from me!

If I had to guess, 90% of my health issues have been caused by anxiety and stress over a period of several years.

I think one contributing factor to my anxiety is that I was never taught stress coping techniques.

I believe another contributing factor is our American culture. Amongst other things, we seem to value high productivity, putting work above oneself, being independent (which of course requires a good job and making lots of money), and being ‘perfect’. If that’s not a recipe for way too many responsibilities, unrealistic expectations, and maxed out capacity then I don’t know what is!

Maybe it’s just me, but from being immersed in mainstream TV and marketing from a young age it seemed like if I didn’t have all my ducks in a row and look good doing it then something was wrong with me. If I didn’t have a house, husband, at least one kid and a dog by 25 then I was damaged goods (some guy on a plane actually said those words to me…’girl, you’re damaged goods). That my worth was tied to my relationship with a man and what material goods I could collect.

And I believed all of it!

I remember talking about life balance in college and in my early years of working and wondering why I didn’t have it. Cause to have all your ducks in a row and look good doing it you had to have balance, right?  Like balance was a thing that just happens. Like balance is a thing that is magically bestowed upon you.

If you have ever done balancing poses in yoga, then you know balance doesn’t just happen. The people who tend to have the best balance in class make balance a practice. That means they do it repeatedly and get good at it. Balance isn’t an accident.

Why yes, I did take this photo just for this post in my PJ's.
 Just keeping it real, y'all!
Do I get bonus picture points for Maizey doing
 downward dog in the background?



One of the big skills I’m learning right now, in my mid-thirties, is how to set boundaries. Man, I wish someone had told me about healthy boundaries when I was in high school! I believe it is the single biggest thing I could have done to prevent stress.

Much like balance, boundaries are a practice. Boundaries also take work to set an maintain. It’s not like a boundary is taping a sign to yourself that says ‘I do not go out after 7pm on week nights’, and then everyone sees and is like ‘ok, cool’.

There will always be things to do and people asking me to do them. It’s within my right to say no and choose what is better.

Dear Reader, in the event you are also interested in learning about boundaries, my counselor recommended an awesome book that I would also highly recommend (even though I’m only part way through it): Boundaries by Townsend and Clouds

In Luke 10:42, the better thing that Mary is choosing is the word of God. Mary Is choosing Jesus over expectations of the world and of other people.

I have only been a Christian for about three and a half years. I have spent about two and a half years of that time struggling with health issues. I see how God is using this time to unwind all my previous misconceptions of what was required of me. I don’t have to be independent and highly productive and ‘perfect’. I’m not damaged goods because I got married at 32. My worth is not tied to my marital status or the expectations placed on me.


My worth is tied to God and who He created me to be for the good works He has prepared for me.

It is so humbling to look back on where I was and where I am now. That Jesus, the good shepherd, would leave the 99 sheep to pursue me. And not only did He pursue me, but He would and love me right where I was at, even though I was a sinner and had not yet placed my faith in Him. That I was worth so much to Him that He would give His life for me.

Jesus gave His life willingly for me, and loves me even though:

  •       I can no longer hold a job
  •        I don’t have energy anymore
  •        My hair is falling out
  •        My hormones are messed up
  •        My digestive tract is messed up
  •        I get irritable when I don’t sleep
  •       I can no longer do what the world expects
  •       Etc.
He loves me for me, right where I’m at. My worth comes from being a daughter of God, not from my physical condition, and not from meeting expectations of the world.

To finally be at a place where I know that logically AND emotionally/spiritually is priceless. It also allows me to feel a tremendous amount of freedom, because I can reject the expectations of the world/other people and really embrace the expectations God has for me.

The freedom that is given by God allows me to choose what is better.

And you know what?

    It will not be taken away from me.










Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Faith for the Journey: Cherries

This experience occurred on July 5, 2018. I wrote it down a few days later.
________________________________________________________________________________
The neighborhood in which I live has a pool at the center of it, and around the pool there are different kinds of fruit trees that have been planted.

About a week ago while walking the dogs I noticed that the cherry trees were bearing fruit, and I picked a few to eat as we walked by. The cherries were bitter tasting, not ones you’d want to go and pick more of.

Later that night, out of curiosity, I consulted google about bitter cherries. To my surprise, I found that there are several varieties of sour cherries, and that the cherry trees in our neighborhood were indeed of the sour variety.

I then did what any other food loving person would do: I researched how one could bake with sour cherries.

I found a few great recipes, but one stuck out. I had found a recipe for a sour cherry clafoutis, which is kind of like a fruity quiche/custard. I told my husband that the next day we needed to go and pick a bunch of cherries. We noticed that there were a bunch of cherries that weren’t ripe yet, but would be ripe after several days.

We came back with about 5 pounds of cherries and I made the sour cherry clafoutis, and it was amazing!

Knowing that there would be more cherries that would ripen, I waited several days to go back.
As I approached the trees for my second round of picking, I noticed how heavy the branches were with fruit, and how the bright red cherries contrast so nicely with the dark green leaves.



I thought to myself ‘Oh, to bear spiritual fruit like that!’

What would it be like to abide in Jesus so deeply, that spiritual fruit would hang in glorious abundance?

As I picked, there were other thoughts:

‘look how plentifully He provides!’

‘I have so many cherries, what will I do with them all?’

‘There are so many more cherries I’m not picking….I’ll have to come back another day to pick more’

‘With such a bountiful harvest, wouldn’t it be great to share with others instead of hoarding all these cherries for myself? Will they not create more joy when shared vs stored in my freezer?’

I returned home with all the cherries I could carry.

The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

At the time, I was in the middle of a health crisis and couldn’t fathom how one could experience all the fruits of the spirit when you are experiencing trials. Specifically joy. James talks about rejoicing when you experience trials of any kind, but I had no idea how to do that.

I wasn’t sure I even really understood what Joy was in the Christian sense, so I googled it. I ended up finding a short, 6 part series by John Piper where he defines joy, and talks about other facets of joy, including thoughts about joy in suffering.

The videos gave me a new way to view the trial that I was in, and that helped me to be receptive to future teachings that would experience.





Faith for the Journey: Ripples

This experience occurred on June 4, 2018. I wrote it down a few weeks later. I didn’t know it then, but this would be the foundation for many teachings that would come over the next few months.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes being a step-parent is hard. 

Sometimes it’s hard AND painful.

Step-parent pain was the place I found myself in on a Monday morning. When you have truly adopted a child in your heart, sometimes the reminders that they are not yours, and will never be, cause a deep ache.

I was taking my stepdaughter and her friend to target that morning after a sleepover, and I knew I needed to hear from Jesus. On the way back home, I took a detour to a natural area with ponds. I don’t remember if I went with a question, or just with a pain in my heart.

It was a beautiful day; the sky was clear and bright blue. I parked my Jeep and walked the crunchy gravel path to the closest pond.  There was a slight breeze, which tousled the leaves of the trees, creating an intermittent rustling noise. Upon arriving at the water, I felt prompted to take my shoes off and walk around in the water.

Walking around in the water is not something I normally do if I’m not going swimming. Your feet get wet, then sand and dirt sticks to your feet and you have no way to wipe them off because there’s no towel. The worst part is you then you have to put your shows back on with sandy feet. It’s really not my thing.

But then there was the persistent tug: take your shoes off…walk in the water.

I thought to myself ‘why not’? If this is the Holy Spirit talking to me, I would like to be obedient. If it’s not, well, sandy shoes aren’t the worst thing to happen in life.

So, I slipped my Keens off, put down my purse and ventured out into the water. I walked back and forth a bit on the shore, noticing the way the shadows of the trees didn’t just sit on the surface of the water, the shadows went to the surface on which I was walking.

After a minute or two I walked out of the water, sat down, and looked up. No longer focusing on the shadows where my feet had been, I looked out across the pond and saw that the ripples created by my walking along the shore had reached the other side of the pond.

Then this realization hit me: when we walk with Jesus, we create ripples! Ripples that others can see!


Just as soon as the realization had crossed my mind, two fish in the middle of the pond came up to the surface and created ripples of their own. Without thinking, I jumped to my feet and started stomping wildly so that the ripples they made wouldn’t get to the shore on which I was sitting. It took a lot of stomping to diffuse the fish ripples.

The next realization came: when we stop walking with Jesus, ripples from other things or people are more likely to get to us and affect us. At that point, we have to work much harder in our walk to not be affected.

Seeing that the fish were active, I stayed in the water, walking in place. The ripples I created were consistent this time because I kept my feet moving. This time when the fish surfaced, the ripples they created were diffused farther away from the shore on which I was walking because I was continuously sending out ripples.

Then came the final realization: when we walk with Jesus consistently, things of the world don’t affect us as much, because being with Him creates ripples that are stronger than those of the world.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Phase 2/3, week 4 of treatment

I tried to split this post into three sections- insights from the last week, background, and a summary of each day. If you are a friend or family member, I’d recommend sticking with the background and insights. If you’re someone who is having digestive issues or is wondering what treatment might be like, I’d recommend reading everything.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose anyone. Go see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Also, my brain fog is pretty intense at times. I try to make sure what I write is correct, but I may get things wrong from time to time.

Insights from the last week:
There was a lot that happened over the past week. I switched treatment pills, participated in wedding festivities, and my step daughter was at our house this week.

With the new treatment pill I thought sleeping wouldn’t be an issue, but it turns out I was wrong about that. I have been more fatigued this week than previous weeks and therefore had trouble tracking symptoms in the app I use, and there were some days I missed some of the supplements I take in liquid.

I realized that when I have expectations on how a day will go and then something changes and I can’t do things in the same order or need to delay a task that it causes me stress. Now that I realize it’s happening I can address my level of expectation.

Even though I have several issues with my digestion, the symptoms I experience most frequently and with higher severity are related to stress and hormones.

With starting the new treatment pill, there have been some new side effects: loss of appetite, weird taste in the mouth and dark colored urine. There have been some like trouble sleeping and feeling light-headed, that have stayed the same. With the lightheadedness, I only notice it on days I have experienced higher stress or didn’t sleep well.

At my doctor’s recommendation, I tried melatonin to help me sleep later in the week, and it appears to be helping.

I had a few conversations this week that made me realize that I may be isolating myself more than I realized. I also found that conversations that focus solely on my physical issues are draining, whereas conversations that include faith are energizing and uplifting. I need more faith-filled conversations!

Many people ask if I’m getting better. That’s actually not a straightforward question. I physically do not feel good because of lack of sleep and because of some of the treatment side effects. It is possible that my body is getting better even though I’m not capable of noticing at the moment.
This treatment plan is heavily focused on my digestive issues.

 As previously mentioned, my more prevalent issues have to do with stress and hormones. I have been on supplements that help support my hormone issues for several years now. The new doctor has switched the brands of hormone support supplements I’m on, but the glands that are supported are the same (adrenal, thyroid, ovaries).

While I’m hopeful that treating the digestive issues will help my body overall, I’m trying to be realistic with how I may feel at the end of the treatment plan at the beginning of November. It may very well be that I still feel fatigued.

 I’ve had hormone issues since at least 2001, and I started to see a counselor for anxiety in 2005 or 2006. I had digestive issues since at least 2009. That’s 17 years of thrashing my internal bits to some degree. I’m not sure if one 10 week treatment plan is going to ‘fix’ ALL the things that are wrong.

The way I’m thinking about it is that my digestion will hopefully improve after the treatment, and after it’s working better for a while it will help the other body systems function better. I don’t know if anyone can give an exact timeline for how that might go.

So, am I getting physically better? Probably. It at least seems like the treatment plan helps with forward motion.

I'm happy to report that emotionally and spiritually I'm doing really well. With the help of a counselor, I'm unwinding the poor mental wiring that I feel led me to make poor life decisions which in turn led to the extreme stress I experienced a few years back.

On a spiritual level, I'm learning so much. My faith is growing exponentially and I am able to share that faith with others. I have several blog posts about faith planned that I haven't had time to write yet, but you'll be able to find links to them here when I do.


Background:
This particular bout of health issues flared in 2015. My job had become extremely stressful and travel intensive, in conjunction with some major life changes: moving in with my boyfriend, becoming a Christian, getting married 2 weeks after being proposed to, becoming a step parent, then planning a wedding reception for the following summer.
 In 2016, I was finding I could no longer work full days, and my hair was falling out. When I felt that work was finally slow enough to go to the doctor, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and told to take a month off of work to rest. HA! It didn’t seem possible at that point. However, I did take 2 weeks off then go back at half time in May of 2016. Over the summer I was able to do less and less, and I finally ended up quitting my job in October 2016.

Between October 2016 and June 2018 I had the opportunity to learn how to rest and was able to work on a treatment plan for adrenal fatigue. I was feeling like I was making good progress in the first 3-4 months of 2018. Looking back now, I can see where I was sliding back a bit in April and May. In June, I experienced an extreme energy crash that left me looking for answers, since I didn’t think I had done anything significantly different than I had previously. In the beginning of July 2018, I went and saw a functional medicine doctor who ran a bunch of tests up front to figure out what other things might be wrong with me.

As mentioned in my post about the results from the last visit, my test results show that I have a yeast overgrowth, a parasite, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and gut dysbiosis.
Previous test results indicated I have low stomach acid, nutritional deficiencies, and hormone imbalances with the adrenal glands, ovaries, and thyroid.
I have been on supplements for the hormone imbalances (previously diagnosed as adrenal fatigue) for a while. They started with my previous doctor. The new doctor is continuing to work on those issues, but with different supplements.

I started the fourth week of my 4 phase, 10 week treatment plan on September 24th, 2018. Phase 1 will work on the yeast, phase 2 will work on SIBO, phase 3 will work on SIBO and the parasite, and phase 4 will continue with the SIBO. The supplements for everything else will continue through the whole treatment period. This week has some of phase 2 and 3.

I currently take 11 different supplements throughout the day. One is a phase specific treatment pill. Three are for the hormone imbalances, 3 are for nutritional deficiencies, and 4 are for digestive support.

Day 22
The wheels are starting to come off the cart a bit. I woke up late. I took my treatment pill after I woke up, but didn’t eat anything until noon. I forgot my liquid supplements this morning because I typically take them with breakfast, but I didn’t actually eat breakfast.

I had a somewhat stressful conversation this morning, and decided that if I ate my feelings in the form of potato chips that would probably be fine. The things I did today felt rushed because I didn’t leave the house for errands until 3:30ish, and I needed to have dinner ready at 6:30.

I know most of my poor choices today are due to feeling tired and then feeling rushed because I’m sleeping so late. At this point, I’ll take sleep whenever I can get it.

Switching topics- this has been the third or fourth day using the squatty potty and it’s awesome.

It’s about 8:30pm and the wired/tired feeling is already present. I’m going to try and go upstairs and get in bed sooner and see if I can actually fall asleep earlier. I have just been staying up and going with the wired feeling, so I have been awake much later.

Tomorrow will be a hectic day, so going to bed earlier would be super helpful if I can manage it.

Day 23
While I did fall asleep sooner last night, it was super windy, and the wind woke me up a few times in the middle of the night.

Today has been long and I’m at the point later in the evening where I’m fatigued and can’t quite make whole thoughts.

I craved junk food today, wondering if it’s because I’m not getting enough calories?

Day 24
Today is the last day on Xifaxan! Still didn’t sleep well despite going to bed early again last night (those bedtimes stories for adults on youtubethat I mentioned in the week 3 post are really helping in getting to sleep!).

I mentioned in an earlier post that I try and chart my symptoms, foods, medicines, etc. in an app called my symptoms. I’ve been really bad at that the last few days. I’m not sure if it’s because I stopped caring, or it’s because I lack motivation from being tired.

Typically, I would feel stressed about not having kept up on tracking everything. At this moment:
 I.just.don’t.care.

I’m both excited and nervous to be switching pills tomorrow. Excited because I’m hoping to sleep better. Nervous because I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding this Saturday and I don’t know what new side effects, if any, might pop up.

The rehearsal dinner is tonight and I did ok energy wise!

Day 25
 No change in sleeping or fatigue level. I started the new treatment pill (Metronidazole) today, and it tastes pretty bad. The taste lingers after the pills taken, but it’s not over powering. I did feel a little nauseous after taking the second dose, but it’s possible that was due to car sickness.

I didn’t feel great after taking the 3rd dose this evening, but not sure if that’s related to the pill or not. 

I’ll be interested if I sleep better tonight.

I’m hoping that if I start sleeping better that I can start going back to doing some elliptical workouts at the gym this week.

Day 26
I slept worse last night than the previous few nights. I had a weird bowel movement this morning….it looked mostly normal, but there were parts that looked grainy.
I was looking up the side effects of Metronidazole on stool when I found this:


  
Wayyyyyy down on the bottom of the page I did find that trouble sleeping IS a side effect! DANG IT!

Trouble sleeping was not mentioned in the sheet that came from the pharmacist.

I’m feeling super fatigued right now. I’m getting real tired of the whole not sleeping thing, so I called the doctor and asked if there was anything I could do to help with sleeping. She mentioned natural calm, melatonin, and CBD oil. Since I already have natural calm, I opted to try the melatonin. I would have no trouble trying CBD oil, except for that it’s rather expensive, and I’m only on these pills another week or so. I got some melatonin on the way to the vet appointment, so we’ll see how that works.

As I’m re-reading the entry for this day, I’m wondering why I didn’t ask my doctor sooner about help with sleeping. I’m going to blame it on brain fog and not thinking clearly.

Day 27

Today was a big day! My best friend got married, and I was a bridesmaid in the wedding. I left the house around 10:15 am and didn’t get back til around 9:30pm. With events like this, it seems like I get surges of adrenaline that will carry me through an event. I did notice that I would get tired when there were periods throughout the day when we were sitting and waiting on the next thing. This happened at least 3 times.
But it was oh-so-worth it! What a joyous occasion!

I slept about 8 hours last night! Not sure if it was the melatonin, or if I’m so exhausted from not sleeping the last few days that I kind of crashed. 

I didn’t have a bowel movement today, and I didn’t stick as closely to my eating plan as I should have. Since my symptoms are more hormonal in nature, I figured a little bit of cheating would do much to my digestion, especially since the foods I ate were still low FODMAP, just not paleo.

Since I’ve been failing at entering things into my symptom tracker, I don’t remember if I took any psyillum husk yesterday. I did well with bringing and taking my pills. I just didn’t bother taking the supplements, like the psyillum, that I typically add to a liquid.

I rode down to the wedding with a friend of mine who is having some similar health issues. It was so good to talk to someone who understands what it’s like to have chronic stuff! We also spent a good deal of time talking about faith, and Jesus, and staying connected. 

It’s so easy (and mentally draining) to focus on the physical, that when I get a chance to talk about and focus on the spiritual it’s like a battery recharge!

It’s making me realize I need to be connecting with people and having spiritual conversations at least once a week, if not more.

Day 28
 Today has been a little rough, as I suspected.

I was able to go to sleep at a reasonable time, but woke up several times in the middle of the night, then woke up at 6:15 ish because of low blood sugar. When I finally ate a little I was able to go back to sleep for a bit.

I was fatigued for most of the day. I was able to rest after we came home from church, but not sleep. 

A few friends from church set up a meal train for me a few weeks ago and we received two different meals today. With all the wedding festivities going on the last few days, I haven’t been making food. I now have food for a few days, so I’m super grateful for those who brought meals today!

After the evening metronidazole dose, I noticed I had a headache and felt a little light headed.

One of the Metronidazole side effects I read about was urine that was darker than normal, which I noticed last night and this morning. Today I tried to drink more water than normal in the event I got dehydrated from yesterdays events. I’m at about 2.5 liters for the day.

Speaking of side effects, one that I forgot to mention is loss of appetite. I find that it’s especially prevalent in the morning. Since I normally update the post in the evenings, I always forget to write about it.

This evening, I did notice that I wasn’t really hungry for dinner. However, once I started eating it, I wanted more as soon as I was finished.

After dinner my headache was growing worse and I felt overtired. I went to lay down around 9:15 or so. I laid there for a while and continued to feel worse.  The headache became the worst I can remember, and I started to feel nauseous. After 15 to 20 minutes I ran to the bathroom, because it became a situation where there was going to be something that came out of some orifice.
Surprisingly, I had a normal bowel movement, but while it was occurring I had chills and felt like I might pass or throw up.
When I went back to bed the headache had lessened, but I still felt shaky and had chills. Despite all of that, I actually slept pretty well!






Phase 2, week 3 of treatment

I tried to split this post into three sections- insights from the last week, background, and a summary of each day. If you are a friend or family member, I’d recommend sticking with the background and insights. If you’re someone who is having digestive issues, or is wondering what treatment might be like, I’d recommend reading everything.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose anyone. Go see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.


Insights from the last week:
 I have not slept well this week, so my adrenal fatigue symptoms are getting worse again. I looked into Xifaxan side effects, and trouble sleeping appears to be one of them. For lack of a better term, I feel caffeinated, especially in the evenings. Another Xifaxan side effect I had was feeling off-balance/lightheaded. That symptom faded over time, but did show up again one day this week when I was feeling particularly fatigued.

On days I’m feeling fatigued, it’s really nice to just have meals that are ready to eat. I’ve decided that if there is a day I feel decent it would be beneficial to cook something in bulk.

I bought the Monash University FODMAP app this week, and I wish I would have just spent the $8 sooner. I didn’t realize that food serving sizes are necessary in determining if something is high FODMAP or not. A serving of a particular veggie might be fine at 1/3 c, but at ½ c becomes high FODMAP. I was really frustrated with not knowing about that.

I also got a squatty potty this week on sale. I forgot to update about it on the daily posts, but I have found that it really helps have more comfortable and faster bowel movements (especially for someone that tends towards constipation).

In the continuing battle to get to sleep/sleep better/sleep more, I discovered bed time stories for adults on you tube. This has been a great find for me, and I do think it helps me fall asleep faster than I would on my own.

From day 21:
 In listening to the bedtime stories, I learned something about focus that relates to my life in general. As I listen, my mind sometimes wanders and fixates on something- a conversation from earlier in the day, what needs to be done tomorrow, conversations I need to have, etc.
When I realize that my mind has drifted, it is possible for me to choose to continue with where my mind wants to go, or to return my focus to the story. Sometimes I choose to refocus on the story, and I can stay there. Most of the time I choose to focus on the story, and my mind drifts back to what I was thinking about again and again and again. Each time I realize the drift has happened, I can choose to refocus on the story.
I have a whole set of blog posts planned about the faith aspect of this journey that I haven’t finished yet. They are separate posts because that’s how I’ve operated the last few months- I focus on the physical, then I focus on the spiritual. Sometimes I spend more time focusing on the physical than I would like. I do need to be aware of the symptoms I am experiencing, but obsessing about them isn’t helpful. Being aware of the food I’m eating is necessary, but beating myself up for making a food mistake isn’t helpful.
Jesus once told his disciples: "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:34 NIV
Truly, it is spiritual sustenance that is keeping me going at this time.
Today I even moved on from ‘just keeping going’ to the type of sincere gratitude that makes you emotional all day. God has been SO GOOD to us, I can see and feel how in all things He has been/is working for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

  
Background:
This particular bout of health issues flared in 2015. My job had become extremely stressful and travel intensive, in conjunction with some major life changes: moving in with my boyfriend, becoming a Christian, getting married 2 weeks after being proposed to, becoming a step parent, then planning a wedding reception for the following summer.
 In 2016, I was finding I could no longer work full days, and my hair was falling out. When I felt that work was finally slow enough to go to the doctor, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and told to take a month off of work to rest. HA! It didn’t seem possible at that point. However, I did take 2 weeks off then go back at half time in May of 2016. Over the summer I was able to do less and less, and I finally ended up quitting my job in October 2016.

Between October 2016 and June 2018 I had the opportunity to learn how to rest and was able to work on a treatment plan for adrenal fatigue. I was feeling like I was making good progress in the first 3-4 months of 2018. Looking back now, I can see where I was sliding back a bit in April and May. In June, I experienced an extreme energy crash that left me looking for answers, since I didn’t think I had done anything significantly different than I had previously. In the beginning of July 2018, I went and saw a functional medicine doctor who ran a bunch of tests up front to figure out what other things might be wrong with me.

As mentioned in my post about the results from the last visit, my test results show that I have a yeast overgrowth, a parasite, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and gut dysbiosis.
Previous test results indicated I have low stomach acid, nutritional deficiencies, and hormone imbalances with the adrenal glands, ovaries, and thyroid.
I have been on supplements for the hormone imbalances (previously diagnosed as adrenal fatigue) for a while. They started with my previous doctor. The new doctor is continuing to work on those issues, but with different supplements.

I started the third week of my 4 phase, 10 week treatment plan on September 17th, 2018. Phase 1 will work on the yeast, phase 2 will work on SIBO, phase 3 will work on SIBO and the parasite, and phase 4 will continue with the SIBO. The supplements for everything else will continue through the whole treatment period. This week was all phase 2.

I currently take 11 different supplements throughout the day. One is a phase specific treatment pill. Three are for the hormone imbalances, 3 are for nutritional deficiencies, and 4 are for digestive support.

Day 15
At this point, I’m sure one of the Xifaxan side effects I have is trouble sleeping. It is starting to kick my butt. It’s about 9:30 pm right now and I feel a bit like a zombie- fatigued, but not very sleepy.
I think the off balance/light headedness is either starting to fade, or I’m getting used to it.
I’m not as hungry as when I first started taking Xifaxan, so that side effect has also faded.

I’m still irritable most days, but I don’t know if that’s a direct side effect, or if it’s more related to not sleeping.

While I slept 8 hours last night, I’ve been getting 5-6 hours for the last several days before that, and I’m not caught up at all.

It took me a long time to get motivated to get going today. I needed to run a few quick errands then make a few batches of soup for this week. I also needed to make dinner for some friends we had over. Even though I was feeling fatigued, once I got going I was able to keep going.

We don’t have my step daughter this week, and my husband is going out of town for a few days, so I’ll have 2 whole days where I will have the house all to myself. I really like days home alone when I’m not sleeping well, because it’s much more quiet and there’s less going on. The less sleep I get, the more irritable I get. The more irritable I get, the less I can handle extra activity and noise.
 I also don’t have to cook for other people. While I do like cooking, I also like leftovers. Like, I can eat left overs almost indefinitely. My family, on the other hand, can only eat the same meal 2-3 times before they refuse to eat any more of it. Between the soup and the dinner I made today, I probably wont have to cook until next week.

Day 16
I finally slept a little longer last night, something between 8 and 9 hours.  Still not caught up on sleep, and feeling pretty fatigued today. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about cooking the rest of the week. If the trend of not getting enough sleep continues, I’ll very likely be non-functional by the end of the week.

I’m still having daily bowel movements, though the last few were a Bristol scale 2-3, so towards the constipated side. I’m still glad things are moving and not just hanging out in my intestines.
I was going to try and go to a yoga class today at noon, but seeing as I now have 4 minutes to get there, that’s not going to happen.

I rested most of the day and felt a little better in the evening.

For several weeks now, I’ve been trying to make sure I take my treatment pills with my meals. The current treatment pill itself doesn’t need to be taken with food, but I know if I take all my supplements on an empty stomach I’ll feel nauseous. 
It made for some strange meal times if I happened to wake up late. I finally gave up trying to take the treatment pills at meal times. I’m shooting for taking them at 9am, 2pm, and 7pm. I set phone alarms to remind me.

I had some really strong food cravings this evening and I’m blaming it on PMS. I may or may not have had a few tortilla chips and a few cookies. It was all low FODMAP, but not paleo. I very nearly walked to the store and bought some potato chips, because crispy and salty sounds AMAZING. Thus far I have resisted, but not sure how long I can hold out.

I was super tired in the evening, but when I laid down to go to sleep my mind was running rampant due to a phone call I received. Sometimes when my mind won’t shut off, I imagine myself getting dressed, walking to the store, buying something, then coming back home. Normally this is so mundane I end up falling asleep partway through. But not tonight. I would make it from my room to my closet before my mind would wander off again. I started the exercise 5-6 times before I finally gave up.  After laying there a few hours, I happened to think of a girl I used to work with who told me she would listen to podcasts to help her fall asleep. I didn’t feel like searching for a podcast, so I looked on you tube for some sort of sleep aid. I found I few hour long videos that were stories for falling asleep. Here’s the one I listened to.

The narrators voice was enough to keep my mind loosely engaged on the story, and to keep it from running amok. I’m not sure how long I listened, but it feels like I got about halfway through.

Day 17
I slept a little longer last night, but didn’t feel rested upon waking. I ended up finding out later in the evening yesterday that I needed to run several errands today, and ended up having two visitors. 

The last few weeks more than 2 things per day tends to max out my capacity, so this felt like a test.
I had a friend drop by quickly in the morning to drop off some things. I then needed to box and print postage for 2 of my husband’s amazon orders. I don’t do this very often, so it takes 4 times longer than it needs to. I then needed to ship out the orders and go to the subway nearby to grab sandwich for my daughter since I was picking her up from school to have lunch together. After subway, I stopped by Macy’s to pick up my daughter’s homecoming dress, then went to her school to pick her up. She wasn’t feeling well, so she ended up coming home with me for a few hours to rest before I needed to take her back to school for cheer practice. When I got home I walked and fed the dogs right away because a storm was blowing in. About an hour after that, another friend came over for the evening.

While it is good to know I could manage everything, it definitely maxed my capacity. I don’t think it would have been possible earlier in the week when I was only sleeping ~6 hours per night.

My cycle started yesterday, and it was close to the predicted start date in my period tracker app. This is always good news for me; I used to have 40-60 day cycles. Now my cycles are more regular and occur approximately every 31 days. I hope this means that my hormones are in a better place than they were a few years back.

Since listening to a sleep story last night worked pretty well, I looked for another one and found a video that was based on Psalm 23.

I was physically uncomfortable last night, so it feels like I listened longer tonight than the night before. I do feel like these videos are helpful, so I will try to continue with them.

Day 18
I slept about 8 hours again last night, but am still waking up tired.  As I mentioned previously, the off balance feeling is gone, so the most noticeable symptom of the Xifaxan at this point is trouble sleeping.

My bowel movements are still happening daily, and are typically a 2 on the Bristol scale. There were a few days I haven’t had as much water, so I’m wondering if that might be the cause for the scale score.

I tried to be smarter with outstanding chores today. I had a few phone calls I needed to make, so while I made them I worked on a large pile of dishes from a few days ago, and watered all the indoor plants. Talking on the phone seemed to help overcome my chore inertia.

My husband had been gone on a business trip the last few days, but came home around lunch. I had a few other errands that had piled up over the week, so we went and ran a few hours of errands this afternoon. We headed back home around 5pm, and I was feeling pretty fatigued at that point.

It’s about 8pm now, and feel mentally and physically exhausted, but not sleepy tired.
I will be so glad when I’m off these pills and get rid of the caffeinated feeling! I’ve got about one more week to go before I switch to the metronidazole. I'm hoping It won't make me feel caffeinated!

One thing I realized yesterday is that if there are any days that I feel half way decent, I should be cooking something in bulk. I did make a small batch of muffins yesterday just to try them. I liked them, so the next time I feel ok I’ll make a double batch and freeze them.

Speaking of freezing things, I could have made more soup either yesterday or today, but I have no more of my preferred storage containers-  Ball wide mouth quart size jars.  I was able to get a dozen more jars today, so the next time I feel good I’ll be able to make another batch of soup.

Given the up and down nature of my energy levels, I still think one of the best things I can do for myself is to continue to cook in bulk when I can so I have the right kind of food to eat when I’m feeling tired.

Day 19
The fatigue is getting worse. It’s especially bad in the morning, but I start to feel more normal after 5 pm. I’m still trying to use the adult bedtime stories to fall asleep. They help to a degree, but I don’t know how much I can fight the side effect with other things.

I felt off balanced/lightheaded again this morning. I thought that side effect had faded. I was more tired this morning than previous days, so maybe that’s why I felt that way again.

I made two purchases today which may be helpful.
1. I got a squatty potty on clearance from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and was able to use a coupon, so ended up getting it for about $15. I’m excited to try it.
2. I finally paid for the Monash University FODMAP app (https://www.monashfodmap.com/i-have-ibs/get-the-app/). I’ve been increasingly frustrated with doing a google search for every food I might want to eat and decided the $8 was worth it. I haven’t had much time to look into it, but I anticipate it being helpful.

Day 20
I woke up several times last night. I was tired this morning and felt highly fatigued in the afternoon. Started to feel more normal after about 7:30 pm.

I had a chance to look more at the Monash food app today. I’m really frustrated that I didn’t buy it sooner. There have been various recipes I’ve looked at that ID a certain food or recipe as high or low FODMAP, but the designation really isn’t that straightforward. Most foods listed in the app have a volume at which the food contains moderate to high FODMAPs. The app also identifies which type of FODMAP/s that a particular food has. 

A few weeks back I found a recipe for zuchinni soup that was supposed to be low FODMAP. Well, it turns out Zuchinni is ok in a 1/3 c serving, but has moderate FODMAP content at ½ c. I have been eating large amounts of this soup multiple times a day. Since the soup is blended, I have no way to know how much Zuchinni I’ve been eating per serving. Unfortunately, Zuchinni is high in the one fodmap I have the most issues with: oligos-fructans.

I really wish I would have known about the app, bought it, and gotten used to low FODMAP eating BEFOREEEE I started the treatment plan. Thinking back on what I’ve been eating, I really haven’t been doing a great job at eating low FODMAP the last few weeks.

Who knows how much this will affect my treatment plan. As far as I can tell, treating SIBO is still an evolving sciencec. There are a few different diet recommendations that people with SIBO can follow, and low FODMAP is just one of them. I had previously read that some people try and eat FODMAPs while on antibiotics to activate the bacteria so that they are active enough to be killed off. Honestly, there probably is no one-size-fits all treatment or diet. Every body is different.

 I tried a stir fry recipe tonight trying to follow vegetable amounts from the app, and something in it caused symptoms. Maybe because I ate too much at once? I didn’t measure my serving size, but I was pretty sure it was all within limits. The only thing not in the app that I added were sweet potato glass noodles. Sweet potatoes are ok in smaller amounts, but the noodles were processed so they may have been different. I’m feeling discouraged.

Day 21
I woke up around 2 am with stomach cramps, which is the first time that’s ever happened. I’m assuming that was caused by something I ate for dinner yesterday. Eventually went back to sleep and woke up again around 9 am. Even though I feel like I slept enough overall, waking up is hard and mornings are slow.

This morning I needed to move a little faster to make it to our 10 am church service. Sometimes having a little motivation is helpful!

I felt pretty fatigued in the afternoon for a few hours, but was able to get some chores done later in the evening.

I’m still feeling wired/tired around bed time, and am trying to use some sort of adult bedtime story to help my mind calm down enough to sleep.

In listening to the bedtime stories, I learned something about focus that relates to my life in general. As I listen, my mind sometimes wanders and fixates on something- a conversation from earlier in the day, what needs to be done tomorrow, conversations I need to have, etc.

When I realize that my mind has drifted, it is possible for me to choose to continue with where my mind wants to go, or to return my focus to the story. Sometimes I choose to refocus on the story, and I can stay there. Most of the time I choose to focus on the story, and my mind drifts back to what I was thinking about again and again and again. Each time I realize the drift has happened, I can choose to refocus on the story.

I have a whole set of blog posts planned about the faith aspect of this journey that I haven’t finished yet. They are separate posts because that’s how I’ve operated the last few months- I focus on the physical, then I focus on the spiritual. Sometimes I spend more time focusing on the physical than I would like. I do need to be aware of the symptoms I am experiencing, but obsessing about them isn’t helpful. Being aware of the food I’m eating is necessary, but beating myself up for making a food mistake isn’t helpful.

Jesus once told his disciples: "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:34 NIV

Truly, it is spiritual sustenance that is keeping me going at this time.

Today I even moved on from ‘just keeping going’ to the type of sincere gratitude that makes you emotional all day. God has been SO GOOD to us, and I can see and feel how in all things He has been/is working for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).


Monday, September 17, 2018

Phase 1 to 2, week 2 of treatment: yeast overgrowth to SIBO treatment

I tried to split this post into three sections-background, insights from the last week, and a summary of each day. If you are a friend or family member, I’d recommend sticking with the background and insights. If you’re someone who is having digestive issues, or is wondering what treatment might be like, I’d recommend reading everything.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose anyone. Go see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.


Background:
This particular bout of health issues flared in 2015. My job had become extremely stressful and travel intensive, in conjunction with some major life changes: moving in with my boyfriend, becoming a Christian, getting married 2 weeks after being proposed to, becoming a step parent, then planning a wedding reception for the following summer.
In 2016, I was finding I could no longer work full days, and my hair was falling out. When I felt that work was finally slow enough to go to the doctor, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and told to take a month off of work to rest. HA! It didn’t seem possible at that point. However, I did take 2 weeks off then go back at half time in May of 2016. Over the summer I was able to do less and less, and I finally ended up quitting my job in October 2016.
Between October 2016 and June 2018 I had the opportunity to learn how to rest and was able to work on a treatment plan for adrenal fatigue. I was feeling like I was making good progress in the first 3-4 months of 2018. Looking back now, I can see where I was sliding back a bit in April and May. In June, I experienced an extreme energy crash that left me looking for answers, since I didn’t think I had done anything significantly different than I had previously. In the beginning of July 2018, I went and saw a functional medicine doctor who ran a bunch of tests up front to figure out what other things might be wrong with me.
As mentioned in my post about the results from the last visit , my test results show that I have a yeast overgrowth, a parasite, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and gut dysbiosis.
Previous test results indicated I have low stomach acid, nutritional deficiencies, and hormone imbalances with the adrenal glands, ovaries, and thyroid.
I have been on supplements for the hormone imbalances (previously diagnosed as adrenal fatigue) for a while. They started with my previous doctor. The new doctor is continuing to work on those issues, but with different supplements.

I started the second week of my 4 phase, 10 week treatment plan on September 10th, 2018. Phase 1 will work on the yeast, phase 2 will work on SIBO, phase 3 will work on SIBO and the parasite, and phase 4 will continue with the SIBO. The supplements for everything else will continue through the whole treatment period. This week had a little of phase 1 and 2.
I currently take 11 different supplements throughout the day. Only 1 pill is for the SIBO. Three are for the hormone imbalances, 3 are for nutritional deficiencies, and 4 are for digestive support.


Insights from last week:

I switched treatment phases in the middle of this week. I went from the antifungal nystatin to the antibiotic Xifaxin. I was very pleased to see my bowel movements get back to normal by the time I started the antibiotic. The antibiotic is causing a few minor side effects: trouble sleeping, feeling off balance/lightheaded, and moodiness.

Although trying to blog about what’s going on everyday can sometimes feel like just one more thing to do, there are a few benefits. The first is that the blog acts like a virtual accountability partner. If I write something here and know that at some point someone will read it, it helps me to succeed in doing what I wrote. I’m also finding writing things down helps me to be more strategic about my day. It also helps with tracking how I’m feeling overall so I can get a big picture view of how things are going. With my memory not working well, I don’t always remember how I am feeling week to week.

I’m also processing parts of the treatment in a different way than I might normally. For example, from day 5: The more this week goes on, the more I view the treatment process as a person trying to hold 10 very large non-helium balloons at once. Each balloon has a label- food, sleep, digestion, supplements, kid herding, chores, exercise, spiritual pursuits, social time, etc. I can only hold so many balloons at once before one pops out of my arms, or I bend over to pick one up and I drop 3 more. It’s now painfully obvious I can’t hold 10 balloons at once.

I’m not sure how to deal with the balloons. Perhaps hold different balloons on different days? But some, like the treatment medicines and supplements, HAVE to be 3 times a day, everyday. Maybe one arm can hold the every day balloons, and the other can hold a few alternating balloons? Just trying to wrap my head around it at this point is causing me anxiety.

I did some large batch cooking this week and found that having food ready to eat throughout the week was amazing. There were several days I didn’t feel like cooking last week, and it was super helpful to have food that was premade and nutritious. I will try to continue to make big batches of food 1-2 days a week so it’s one less thing to think about.

Day 8
I only slept about 5 hours last night, but am actually feeling decent this morning.
The last few days I’ve really been focusing on getting my digestive system more normal. I feel like it’s finally started to work, because I had a more normal bowel movement this morning!!! Who knew pooping could be so exciting?! Too much info too soon for a Monday?

At the end of week 1, I started ‘eating’ mostly liquids to help give my digestion a bit of a break. This has mostly consisted of pureed soup and a beef sourced protein powder called PurePaleo Protein by designs for health (sounds gross, but not bad in almond milk!) I also increased my fluid intake to 2-3 liters of water a day, and added psyllium husks for fiber.

I had a protein powder/psyillum husk drink and green soup again for breakfast, and still feeling pretty good. I got desperate over the weekend, y’all. The thought of killing things off with the treatment and then having them just hang out in my intestines wasn’t something I could handle, apparently! I did call my doctors office to ask about my liquid ‘eating’. The nurse who answered said it was fine for a few days to get things back on track. She also said everyone kind of struggles at first and that if it helps me to feel better then it’s fine! Given that information, I’m going to try and make 1 or 2 pureed soups with different veggies for some variety. If I can manage to make 2 soups today, it should last me most of the week.

I don’t even really have to cook much for my family this week because we have a ton of left overs for breakfast, lunches, and dinners. WINNING!

I have been on the computer all morning finishing up the post for phase 1/week 1 of my treatment plan, and starting the post for the 2nd week, so at this point (about noon) I need to stop and figure out what the rest of my day is going to look like. I have a tendency to prioritize poorly sometimes. For example, I’ll make it a really big deal that laundry needs to be done but neglect the actual important thing for the day, like making soup.

I did good on prioritizing, although sometimes unexpected things come up. Take the broth I needed for the soups. I took the jars out of the freezer and this is what I saw:



I was super tired the night I put the broth in jars, and I forgot them on the counter and then went upstairs to take a bath. My husband happened by a while later, and I asked him to put them in the fridge for me. Normally I leave the lids on really loose until the broth cools and before I put them in the freezer. I think he tightened them a bit more than I usually do, because the jars were not overfilled.
So I did what anyone who spent hours making bone broth would do….I put the jars upside down in a glass bowl and microwaved them to get my broth!




After a few minutes in the microwave, all the glass pieces fell off, and the frozen broth chunks were left. I extracted the broth chunks with some tongs, dumped the glass into the trash and rinsed the bowl, then returned the broth chucks to the bowl to microwave them some more.

I realized that the broth needed to be totally liquid so I could strain it through a sieve and coffee filter to make sure all the glass pieces were out. Fun fact: broth does not go through a coffee filter that well. I think the fat clogs up the filter. So I had to use several filters. I’m not even making this up.


So the ‘simple’ task of thawing broth to make soup later in the day took about 30 times longer than I anticipated.
Because the broth thawing took longer than planned, I made a poor food choice for lunch. Since I was out of green soup, I had some left over gluten free waffles I found in the fridge. So much for going all liquid.
After lunch, I went out to run a bunch of errands, including getting ingredients for the soups I would be making:
Here are the recipes I tried today:
Garlic infused olive oil: https://www.fodmapeveryday.com/recipes/garlic-infused-oil/
Low FODMAP Silky Zucchini Soup: https://www.gatheredtable.com/recipes/965123
The zuchinni soup called for the garlic infused olive oil, which I was excited to try since I haven’t been able to have garlic recently. Apparently, the fructans in onions and garlic are water soluble, but not oil soluble, which is why the garlic infused olive oil is considered low FODMAP. It wasn’t as strongly flavored I had hoped, but I still used it in the soup recipe.

The zucchini soup I liked, and it was written to be low FODMAP. This is going to sound weird, but it kind of tasted like a breadstick dipped in a pesto/spaghetti tasting sauce. I think the macadamia nuts in the recipe are what give it the unique flavor. This soup made a big batch, which is awesome! I’m going to leave one big jar out for this week, and freeze the smaller ones so that I have some available for days I don’t feel like cooking.

The carrot soup was a normal recipe, so I had to modify a few things to get it to be low FODMAP. The result was ok. I think it would be amazing with the garlic and onions in the recipe for those who can eat them. I added some paprika, chipotle chili powder, some additional cayenne, and about ¾ tsp salt and that seemed to help. This soup made about 5 cups less than the other soup, so I still have lots of leftovers
.
I’m glad I made two soups today. That will help me feel like I have choices for my liquid ‘eating’ the rest of the week. I also made a few cups of brown rice to go with the soups for an easy grain for the rest of the week.



As you may have already surmised, my energy levels have been surprisingly good for how little I slept last night. While I was able to keep myself motivated to keep going with my to-do list, I did find I was super irritable today.

One other thing to note about today- cortisol manager had been recommended to me by my new doc, but they were out of stock when they recommended it. The supplement came in today, so it’s the first night that I’ve taken it. It should help with the hormone imbalances. I had some adrenal building herbs given to me by my previous doc, and I had been taking those while I waited.

Tomorrow I’ll have a lot fewer errands to run, and I’m hoping to get to the gym to work out a bit and sit in the sauna. I’m also hoping to do some laundry and do some general cleaning around the house (which I have been terrible at since the energy crash in June).

Overall, I can say I did feel noticeably better today, with obvious GI distress or pill side effects. YAY!

Day 9
I didn’t sleep well again last night, and I’m feeling kind of lethargic. I also noticed when I woke up that my sinuses were super dry. I’ve been purposely pounding water, so I don’t think I’m dehydrated. It might be time to start up the humidifier!

 I think not sleeping well the last few nights might be due to lack of exercise. I think I only made it to the gym once last week. Most of the time I go I only do 30 minutes on an elliptical, but it seems to help with sleep quite a bit.

I had the carrot soup for breakfast this morning, and was brave with the psyllium husk and went from a half to a whole teaspoon.

I ran several errands before heading to the gym for an hour long gentle yoga class. I was gone for about 4 hours, then came home and started some laundry.  I also had to pick up my step daughter and her friends from school later in the afternoon, fix them a snack, make them dinner, and then take them to a tumbling class. I realized a little too late that the location of the tumbling class had been moved from last year, and instead of being 5 minutes from our house it was 15 minutes away. I hate running late to things like that; it tends to trigger my anxiety. Between all the errands, house chores, and kid herding I was feeling really anxious for about an hour. When I got home I went and walked the dogs to help calm myself a little.

This is the first Tuesday we’ve had my step daughter where she had tumbling classes instead of regular cheer practice.  In future weeks, I will make sure not to plan much for Tuesdays and focus on crockpot meals!

Even though I did quite a bit today I didn’t feel great while doing it. I’m still thinking it’s due to lack of sleep.

I ‘ate’ mostly soups today, with a muffin, some grapes, and a protein bar being the only ‘solid’ things I ate. Surprisingly, I’m not that hungry if I eat enough soup. I’ve been trying to put extra garlic infused olive oil in the soup after I heat it up to help with satiety.

I did have a bowel movement today, but it was a 1 on the Bristol scale, which indicates constipation.  I guess I should just be happy I had movement 2 days in a row!

I’m drinking my magnesium supplement as I’m writing (9:45 pm) and starting to get tired. Since I ran around frequently today and got some exercise I’m hopeful that I will sleep better tonight!

Day 10

I didn’t sleep well again last night. Part of that was I had a hard time falling asleep due to the anxiety I experienced from yesterday evening, and some of it was waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep.

I was able to do some laundry and cleaning this morning, but after lunch I could barely keep my eyes open. I tried to take a nap, but not sure I actually slept much. I mostly just laid down and rested for a few hours.

I pushed myself to go to the gym later in the afternoon to see if that would help with sleep.
On my way to the gym I think I experienced a prolonged hot flash. I only experienced hot flashes with the antifungal the first day or so, and then sporadically when I didn’t eat enough.

My bowels were moving again today, which makes it 3 days in a row! Still a Bristol scale 1, but at least things are moving.

I was hoping to have normal bowel movements by the time I started the antibiotic for SIBO tomorrow. While I have been more regular the last few days, I wouldn’t say things are back to normal.

Speaking of tomorrow, I’m a little nervous starting the new medication. The pharmacist had mentioned that many people experience lightheadedness the first day or two they start taking Xifaxin. I intentionally did not plan anything for tomorrow in the event I experienced any side effects. With other prescription drugs I’ve taken, I don’t often experience side effects.

I think I’m going to try an Epsom salt bath tonight and see if it helps with sleep at all.

Day 11

I slept a little better last night, but still not long enough. I had the wired/tired feeling when trying to go to bed, which is related to the adrenal fatigue. I woke up early again for no particular reason.
I was super irritable this morning, and generally pretty sluggish. I did have a normal bowel movement, though! So that was exciting.

At this point in the day I’ve taken 2 Xifaxin doses. I noticed a little bit of lightheadedness at lunch, but it wasn’t pronounced.

I do feel pretty ‘spacey’ today…I’m having a difficult time tracking with one thing, and am getting easily distracted.

The last two days I’ve been in my Pjs until late afternoon. The last few months I had been doing a good job of getting dressed right after breakfast and feeling prepared for the day. The last two days I just haven’t felt like it. Taking a shower and getting dressed just seems like more energy than it’s worth. Sometimes it’s those types of details that let me know how tired I actually am.

I’m also noticing a higher level of resistance to starting tasks. For example, I need to go check the mail and drop off a package at the post office. Most days, that’s an easy task. Today, getting the gumption to put on normal clothes and leave the house just isn’t happening.

My guess is that the tiredness and lack of motivation is related to not sleeping the last few days.
Later in the afternoon, and a few hours after taking my dinner dose of Xifaxin I did start to notice that I felt off balance, which could be related to the light headed symptom I was warned about. I also noticed I was significantly more hungry than normal. I wonder if it’s related to the gut bacteria dying off…maybe they’re sending signals for food because they’re dying off?

The wired/tired feeling was present again before bed. It was likely exacerbated by being out of the house too late. I haven’t seen my husband much this week, so I rode with him to go pick up our daughter from cheering at a volleyball game, which would have been a short trip. Except for the last game had just started, so we stayed to watch since we were already there. Then we ended up taking another one of the cheer girls home after the game was over. What would have been a 40 minute excursion turned into a 2.5 hour excursion and not getting home until 10:30pm. Next time I’ll just stay home.

Day 12

Between staying out late yesterday, not falling asleep til midnight, and being woken up at 6:15 this morning, I didn’t sleep well or long enough. Oddly enough, I don’t feel as tired as I did yesterday.

The more this week goes on, the more I view the treatment process as a person trying to hold 10 very large non-helium balloons at once. Each balloon has a label- food, sleep, digestion, supplements, kid herding, chores, exercise, spiritual pursuits, social time, etc. I can only hold so many balloons at once before one pops out of my arms, or I bend over to pick one up and I drop 3 more. It’s now painfully obvious I can’t hold 10 balloons at once.

I’m not sure how to deal with the balloons. Perhaps hold different balloons on different days? But some, like the treatment medicines and supplements, HAVE to be 3 times a day, everyday. Maybe one arm can hold the every day balloons, and the other can hold a few alternating balloons? Just trying to wrap my head around it at this point is causing me anxiety.

So, I’ll move to other topics.

Soup update: Yes, I ‘ate’ liquids most of the rest of the week. I did have a burger patty and a brat last night for dinner and felt fine, so there have been some solid foods here and there.

 Remember on day 1 of this week where I was saying I had so much left over soup that I was going to freeze some? Well, that didn’t happen. When you eat soup for 3 meals a day on most days, those jars get used up really fast. I think I’m down to one serving of carrot soup and 2-3 servings of zuchinni soup. I loved having a quick, nutrient dense meal ready when I needed it. I will try and continue making a large batch of soup a week just for when I don’t feel like cooking.

Digestion Update: I had a normal bowel movement AGAIN this morning! That’s a few days in a row now. I can’t tell you how excited I am that my digestion is back to normal now that I’m in the antibiotic phase!

 I do think the soup helped with this, as well as adding the psyllium husks to my routine. I’m going to try and go back to eating mostly solid foods and see what happens.

I’ve mentioned feeling wired/tired before bed the past few evenings. Tonight was a little different. For lack of a better word, I felt caffeinated. After about 9pm I was feeling pretty restless and decided to go shopping at Ross since they close at 11pm. I figured I had been going to bed later than that the past few nights and figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. It took me a long time to start to feel tired- probably around 1 am.

Day 13

I probably slept 6-7 hours last night. Not enough, but I didn’t feel terrible when I woke up.
My digestive tract continues to move normally.

Today my husband helped a girl from out church move. I didn’t ‘move’ so much as fetch forgotten items and tried to make sure people were staying hydrated. I carried a few things here and there, but nothing heavy.

I discovered when I arrived at the apartment that if I moved quickly I was really off balance, and that I was pretty irritable. I also discovered stairs don’t help with feeling off balance.

I was probably out of the house 4-5 hours. When I got back I had some lunch and then could barely keep my eyes open. I slept for about 2.5 hours in the afternoon, and woke up in time for dinner.

It’s about 8pm currently, and I’m still feeling tired and off balance. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to go to bed at a normal time tonight, or if I’ll start feeling caffeinated again in few hours.

I wondered if the caffeinated feeling was related to the Xifaxin, so I spent some time trying to see what other people’s experiences with Xifaxin were and stumbled across this forum thread.
It looks like other people have experienced increased hunger and moodiness, but I haven’t yet found where other people feel caffeinated. I did, however, find that trouble sleeping is a common side effect of Xifaxin. I’m going to assume that my feeling caffeinated is related to the trouble sleeping side effect.

After thinking about the forum thread I read where people experienced increased hunger, I recalled that when I quit gluten in the summer of 2016 that I was RAVENOUS for about a week. It didn’t matter how much I ate, I was starving 10 minutes later.

In relation to FODMAPs, I know I have big reactions with onions and garlic, both of which belong to the fructan category. Wheat also falls into the fructan category, and I wonder if the hunger I had when I stopped eating it was related to SIBO bacteria versus an allergy or sensitivity.

Day 14

I didn’t sleep well again. We went to church this morning and I noticed I couldn’t quite catch my breath. This is a new symptom, and not sure what it's related to.

I spent much of the afternoon lying in bed and binge watching a show on Amazon. I was too wired to sleep, but too tired to do anything upright.

I managed to drag myself to the store in the early evening to get a few things for dinner this week.
I noticed after dinner that I was craving carbs. My cycle should be starting in a few days so I’m going to assume that’s PMS related.

I took an epsom salt and lavender essential oil bath hoping it would help make me tired. It did help me to relax, but I didn’t fall asleep until midnight.

As am editing this blog post I'm noticing how I write less on the days I'm tired. I'm going to assume that the post for week 3 is going to be relatively short...lol.