Wednesday, May 18, 2011

story update and GAPS diet

the light has appeared at the end of the tunnel! everything that heretofore was completely mysterious now makes total sense in regards to what has been happening with my health. I hope that if you're reading this it may help you or a friend or family member achieve optimum health.

baby-the teen years:
growing up I was always a picky eater, but I loved carbs. especially baked goods. around jr high, I started getting really restrictive at meals and wasn't sure if I wanted to eat meat. paradoxically, I would spend lots of time in the kitchen, baking cookies. weirder still, I counted calories (I was not overweight). after a while of this, I was really depressed and had anorexia during my freshman year of high school. I stopped having my periods for 8 or 9 months. after a few trips to an ob/gyn, I was told if I didn't gain weight I'd be sent to a eating disorder clinic. I snapped out of it, and started drinking milkshakes every night, and stopped eating like a bird at meals. after I regained some ground with weight and health (and was taking in good nutrients and fats to help my brain see how unhealthy I had been), I never looked back. and, I could eat a ton of candy, baked goods, french fries, pizza and later, beer, and never get too overweight. I thought it was great. fast metabolism, I told myself. and I was always hungry, like the food I ate never sated or filled me.

I always had ear infections and tonsillitis and a round of penicillin once or twice a year, for as long as I can remember, up to age 20 when I had a severe allergic reaction to penicillin.

age 21-36:
then I started getting anxious. and irritable. and anemic. I had canker sores and painful cracks in my fingertips. I developed skin rashes and acne (I was prescribed an antifungal cream with steroids, a few years of tetracycline and one round of prednisone). I had pain in my chest and middle back that felt like a heart attack (I was told it was reflux or nerves or both). I got muscle spasms in my neck and upper back, the kind where you can't turn your head, every month just about. I had worse and worse PMS symptoms, chronic yeast infections. varicose veins and hemorrhoids. headaches and sinus problems. I felt very erratic. I had trouble maintaining relationships and made bad decisions about dating. I felt really stressed out. I became allergic to pets and developed asthma. I had reactions to mold and cigarette smoke and fresh paint smells and car exhaust. I was too nervous to drive a car on a highway. anything over 40 or 50 mph and I had vertigo behind the wheel. I had performance anxiety at concerts and shows. I started feeling insecure and unstable much of the time.

age 36-41:
I decided enough was enough. no doctor was helping me figure out what was going on. I knew there had to be an underlying cause to all of my issues I was dealing with. they weren't going away, and I didn't want to just live with it.
I went on an anti-candida diet, crazily and abruptly, because I didn't know it was better to ease in...I thought it would eliminate everything that I could be sensitive to (wheat, gluten, grains, dairy, sugar) and that then I could rotate trying them out to see how I reacted. my thinking was that I would cure my skin rash (diagnosed as dermatitis, eczema, DH, hives, depending on the doc). well, I was a mess. Jan '07-Mar '07 I had the most severe "die-off" symptoms - irritable, depressed, headache, fatigue, achiness like the flu. I had no idea really what was going on. I finally saw a naturopath who put me on the right track. I had chronic hives that lasted almost the entire year of 2007. we tried different things to heal and seal my gut. I thought it was all working. we identified gluten as the baddie, and I went on with my life, happily gluten-free, thinking that stellar health was just an arm's length away. any day now I would be completely healthy.

think again.
after some microscopic gluten cross-contamination exposures, I got the rash back (DH? chronic hives? both?). then I developed chronic cystitis. then I couldn't conceive. then I was borderline hypothyroid. I was tired all the time, trying to work 6 days/week at 2 different jobs. I got pregnant and miscarried. at the time there was a second fertilized egg; that one was ectopic, and they figured it out as my tube was rupturing. emergency laparascopy came a day after a shot of methotrexate (administered too late).

then the hives from 2007 came back, much to my horror, and my cognitive function was at an all-time low. I was on the couch or in bed as much as possible. I thought I just needed time to recuperate. I started getting palpitations. my skin was dry. my tongue looked coated. I felt sweaty and anxious.

in Jan 2011, I was diagnosed with a yeast allergy (I already knew I was sensitive to dairy and allergic to cane sugar). and then in Feb '11 I was diagnosed with gut dysbiosis: a bacterial overgrowth of H pylori and klebsiella pneumoniae. I started crazy probiotics and got severe gas pains and felt horrible. I started taking caprylic acid and pau d'arco. then I switched to activated charcoal, berberine and oregano oil, still taking high potency probiotics. I did another anti candida diet in Feb (eased in and out this time! :), then after March I started adding in fruit and whole grains in small amounts. my digestion never cleared, and I was losing weight. my hair stopped growing. I was fatigued. I was frustrated.

in early May, I learned of the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet) in the latest issue of Living Without. (I was just about to cancel my subscription to this magazine for another year because of the crazy amounts of sugar used in their recipes over the last year, but I am sure glad I stuck with them, otherwise I wouldn't have learned about SCD.) I mentioned my interest in this diet to my naturopath, and she turned me onto a form of SCD called the GAPS diet. After one day of removing grains and seeds and adding in meat broth, I felt like a new human, and my digestion cleared for the first time in months. I am a week in now, working backwards to the Intro Diet, and my hives are better and better; my energy is back, as is my cognitive function.

in summary, I think I have had GAPS since sometime in childhood. it's been the condition behind a dizzying array of physical and mental health issues that I have struggled with for my entire life. I know now that there's more to it than celiac disease/NCGI. if your gut is out of balance, going gluten-free may help, but the underlying issue (gut dysbiosis)needs to be resolved.

I am in my fifth month of killing the bad bacteria and trying to restore the correct balance, and healing and sealing my gut. I am looking forward to adding in different foods and eventually doing the full GAPS diet, but for now I am enjoying the baby steps to health.

I hope you or someone you love finds this helpful. I sure wish I had read a post like this when I was so lost during the last 2 decades.
best of luck on your path.

be well~


Mary said...

I'm keen to hear your next update. I've been doing GAPS for 5 weeks. I have hashimotos (autoimmune thyroidist), hives, and premature ovarian failure. Had lots of antibiotics as a child. Have tried many things over the last 3 years, am hoping GAPS is the answer.

Goat City said...

Mary, I am right behind you on GAPS--started intro level 3 one month ago, and now am 5 days on the intro level 1. I think with GAPS diet the key is to work back to level 1 of the intro diet, hard as it is; otherwise, those old symptoms may keep cropping up. so far, so good; I wish you the best with it.

Goodess2U said...

Your story was so inspiring! I had many many of your past symptoms--or still do :) just started gaps--have yet to feel better0but I have hope!

Good Luck,

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is really interesting! I am so glad that you found something that works for you! I know what it is to have terrible food issues. I am trying to go all homemade from scratch for one month to really get all gluten out (I just started a blog too! excited! ^.^), but your post is making me think I should also investigate the GAPS avenue as well. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

Goat City said...

Thanks for your comments, and I wish you all the best with your GAPSing and going gluten-free. I think you'll find if you stick with it you'll feel so good that you will never look back!