Are you ready for just the gut stuff today?
Good. You’re going to need a cup of broth or coffee (or both!) to dig into this right now.
Just the gut stuff….that wasn’t my line.
It was the subject line for an email I recently received.
And this email struck such a different chord with me that I felt compelled to share it with you.
Read this email, and then raise your hand wherever you’re at right now if you relate to her words.
Reader Letter to Me
Wanted to say that I love your blog and it has helped me so much.
I just went to the doctor today, and felt like she was listening but then she said “It sounds like you have IBS.” I felt so discouraged.
She prescribed anxiety medication, Nexium, and to take a probiotic. She said to come back in a month to see how that helps.
And she said to avoid gluten and “possibly dairy,” but wasn’t sure if dairy affected the gut. I was so frustrated like how is someone going to say I have IBS and not know how dairy affects our gut?
If it doesn’t help then she will refer me to a GI.
I do not want to rely on anxiety medication for my gut issue when there’s obviously something more going on. But I feel like my only option is to wait the month, let her know it didn’t work and get referred to a GI doctor that will actual test me for things that could be wrong.
I just wanted to write and see if you may read it and have someone to vent to. It’s so frustrating not having answers right away.
Alright, I see you. Your hand is raised. In one way or another, you see yourself in her words. Maybe it was the prescription or probiotic? Maybe it was the lack of listening? Or maybe it was just that frustrated feeling yet again?
So let me address all of the above right now.
Just the Gut Stuff
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Note: I’m addressing this part directly to the darling who wrote to me. However, it’s going to apply for many of you as well.
It sounds like you have IBS.
I felt like she was listening but then she said “It sounds like you have IBS.”
There is nothing worse than waiting for an appointment, while miserable, only to have them tell you, “It’s just IBS.” And believe me, I know. I literally left more appointments than I can count with tears in my eyes because of those words.
I have two main thoughts to share with you on this:
- “Just IBS is BS.” HERE are 7 root causes of IBS.
- Promise me that if and when you are told, “It sounds like you have IBS,” and your gut feeling says that’s not right, you do not give up. I’m not sure if this was an initial appointment, but even if it was, the steps taken are not acceptable. If it was not the first appointment, then where was the more in depth questions, testing ideas, and help? And if it was the first appointment that leads to the next part.
She prescribed anxiety medication, Nexium, and to take a probiotic.
From the email you sent, the doctor diagnosed you with what she thought “sounded like IBS.”
- She did not know for sure, and
- Medications plus a non-specific probiotic were prescribed.
I’m truly hoping there is more to this story than the email because if, in fact, you never discussed anything about anxiety or heartburn, then the anxiety medication and Nexium make no sense.
While I do not know your exact situation, I am curious about the stomach acid. Does your doctor know for sure that you have too much? Remember, many times heartburn and reflux are caused by too little stomach acid. And if that was the case for you, taking Nexium is only going to hinder (and even hurt) your healing efforts.
She’s the doctor, which is how any and every medication under the sun could easily be prescribed for you to obtain.
However, because any Joe on the street can have access to a probiotic, she can simply say, “Get a probiotic.” These three words without any context are meaningless. Truly.
The probiotic industry is expected to hit $77.09 billion by 2025 (source). Not only is a generic probiotic referral a total shot in the dark for you, but the probiotic you end up choosing could either/both:
- make you feel even more miserable
- be phony; more marketing and jargon then beneficial bacteria
I have a master list of 37 questions to ask your doctor. There are probiotic ones on the list, too. Grab all 37 HERE.
Avoid gluten and possibly dairy, but unsure if dairy affects the gut.
If it only “sounds like you might have IBS,” then I have no idea why she would tell you to avoid gluten but only possibly dairy?
- Did she explain why you should avoid gluten?
- Since she assumes you have IBS, then what about processed foods and labels with ingredients you can’t pronounce?
- Of course dairy can affect the gut. Most of us lack the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose in dairy products. Not everyone, though, and maybe you haven’t been eating a lot of dairy but instead a ton of almond milk? Well, without testing, you might not know that you’re reacting to the almond milk – yes, that which was supposed to be “safe.” Not all dairy is evil. But also, it almost always affects the gut.
While some sources still claim a weak connection between IBS and dairy intolerance, even John Hopkins Medicine says “milk” is one of the top 5 foods to avoid for IBS.
What are my options?
After all of that, you’re stuck and confused. Because you’re Gutsy, you’re not willing to just haphazardly take anxiety medication and Nexium.
And I don’t blame you.
It’s your body and your life; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
If nothing is life threatening, then here is what I would do:
- Spend the next month (until your next appointment with her) keeping a detailed journal. Keep whatever type you can. Choose to DIY with my tutorial HERE or just grab the e-version or physical copy of my 90-day gut healing journal. Make notes of anything and everything as it relates to your health. If you have my journal, there are ample places for doctor’s notes and questions, various condition considerations, and even questions that you want to research on your own. No matter what will happen next on your journey, you need this incredible tool!
- Keep the appointment with her, just in case, but try to find a new doctor that can get you in before she can again. Ask around, try to get a local recommendation. Maybe you need to consider a functional practitioner? I don’t know, but I do know that I have a resource to help you decide. Grab The Beginner’s Guide to Digestive Health Testing.
Someone to vent to.
And last, but certainly not least, you mentioned,
I just wanted to write and see if you may read it and have someone to vent to.
Yes, of course I read every single email that comes across my Inbox. While I cannot reply to them all (and certainly can’t write lengthy posts like this for them), I do reach them all.
It’s very important for me to let yo know that you can always vent to me. I’m here to listen, even if I don’t respond. I’ve been in your shoes and it can be long, lonely, and draining.
You should never feel as though you’re in this by yourself; far from it.
Your email made me feel sad because I know that there are thousands of women just like you who walk away from doctor’s appointments like this daily.
I don’t actually think it’s useful or helpful when people tell you, “I know how you feel.” Though I do know how you feel, I want to tell you something that is far more useful and helpful……
Have hope and faith that it will not be like this forever. You must envision the other side in order to get there. Know that it IS possible.
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You will heal. I will help.