Through a recent interaction, I picked up on 7 things about SIBO.
I had the most interesting interaction on the 4th of July at a friends’ BBQ. We knew almost no one that was there, but somehow I met the one person there who I identified with most.
Long story short, there was a guy who was eating plain meat, a little fruit and that was about it. I think he made the comment about how miserable it is to be gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol-free. My husband heard him, they struck up a conversation, and Ryan said he should talk to me.
Fast forward to later in the night when I ran into him, and somehow we got to talking about an antibiotic which is so expensive that you can’t help but deny the initial quote on it. We had similar experiences, and then we realized we were both talking about the same antibiotic, Rifaximin.
At this point, our conversation grew deeper, and we realized just how much we had in common.
He has been progressively getting sicker by the day, major bloating, throwing up, reflux, pain, misery, you name it. Doctors aren’t 100% sure what’s going on, but they suspect SIBO.
Now here’s the kicker, this guy himself is a doctor, a major Bay Area surgeon.
And so our conversation was fairly deep. In the process, I had many new ah-ha moments and came away with 7 things about SIBO.
7 Things About SIBO
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- FODMAPs. He had never heard of FODMAPs. I literally had to tell him what they were, what foods they consist of and that they are so clearly related to SIBO pain and suffering. That fact isn’t usually uncommon, but he’s a major Bay Area surgeon. A man as brilliant as they come, but the food part for SIBO is not common knowledge. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time and you have (or suspect you have) SIBO, please know that understanding FODMAPs are a critical part of your healing (and/or managing symptoms) efforts.
- IBS and SIBO, SIBO and IBS. His point of view is that SIBO is a form of IBS, but it’s the form that doctors are now “selling” to be the kind where you can take an antibiotic and that antibiotic will “heal” you. To this, I was nodding my head. “But,” he said, “without fixing the root of the problem, you’ll take round after round of Rifaximin and you will not be healed.” In other words, SIBO, while it now has a specific name, comes with a specific diagnostic test, and collaborates with antibiotics/herbals, is just chronic IBS that will take a lifetime to manage symptoms (i.e. remaining Low-FODMAP, reducing stress, taking enzymes, etc.) In this, he was spot on.
- Iberogast. He told me it’s one of the supplements his functional doctor has him taking that he believes works. I laughed then said, “It’s one of the supplements I have yet to open.” Truth is, I am a walking supplement cabinet. I backed off a ton from supplements, taking only what I think are the critical things. This past weekend I finally opened the bottle. My doctor’s instructions were to take 20 drops, 3 x’s per day. That’s what I’ve been doing.
- Bone Broth. He recently heard about the healing properties of bone broth. In fact, he said, his doctor mentioned babies and children should be drinking it as well (you mean, like THIS?!). He’s not fond of the store-bought bone broths, and I couldn’t help but share with both he and his wife all about my bone broth that I’ve been making it since 2009 and how I believe in all that it can do for healing. I really hope I inspired them to give it a try.
- Stress triggers. He made note that it wasn’t until several years ago when major problems erupted, and he said that it was around the time when major new life stressors entered into the equation. This is spot on. I think I’ve already told you, but these major issues tend to come to the surface after one of three things happen: 1. A major life event occurs 2. A major surgery happens and/or 3. You travel outside the country and pick up a bug. For me? It was my Freshman year of college, beginning of the year. I was just ending a relationship that left me devastated. I was away from my family for the first time ever. And then I came down with an illness that left me out cold for almost 2 weeks. I was never the same.
- Our food supply. He is a surgeon, a traditional Western doctor, but his thinking is very Western meets Eastern. He stated that our food is making us sick. I couldn’t agree more. While at home in Minnesota, we visited with the family I used to nanny for. Their daughter has major stomach issues, too, and she is in Paris this summer studying. Once she got to Paris, she was eating bread and pasta and all the things. Zero issues. None. Not at all. She is feeling great. Coincidence? I don’t think so. While I don’t believe I am a Maverick Mama, my convictions around food are very real and very serious. I have watched people heal in crazy ways simply by changing what goes into their bodies. Our food supply, on the whole, in the United States, is making us sick.
- “I will die from this.“ Here I was, standing there talking to this surgeon for almost an hour when we got on the topic of the emotional side of illness. He fully agreed with my viewpoint that while we have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness, the illness is very real and its limitations can feel debilitating. His pain and suffering, vomiting and misery recently had him telling his wife, “I will die from this.” I don’t believe that to be true, and I’m not sure he is 100% confident on that either, but finding yourself in the depths of the doldrums is real. And it’s scary. The emotional side of illness does not just affect women, it affects men, too.
Here is what I know about SIBO….there is no cure, and there is no magic formula. The sum of the parts are greater than any action taken in a silo. A relapse can happen at any moment, and the anxiety that tends to surround that fact can sometimes get the best of us.
But what I learned mostly that night? I learned that SIBO is starting to affect more and more people and that we are never alone. Who knew that the very things I have battled with, a surgeon is also battling, too?
And for the record, I continue to stay in remission, and could not be more excited!
You will heal. I will help.