In April 2016, I embarked on a 60 day journey towards better health and fitness. I started the Bikini Body Workouts by Jenn Ferrugia (stay away). Most of you probably think I lost weight because I got sick, but that’s not the case. I actually worked my ass off to get to where I am today, but my sickness definitely played a factor. Anyway, this program came with a workout and nutrition plan that I followed religiously for 60 days. I cut several food groups out of my diet including; gluten, dairy, nuts, legumes, soy and all sugar besides berries. I ate a lot of eggs, organic meats and vegetables. I felt amazing throughout the entire program. I lost weight and gained muscle tone. Then, in the first weekend of June 2016, I went to a music festival. For the most part, I remained on the diet, but I did have a few things that were not a part of my diet plan. On June 5th, on the way home from the festival, I felt odd stomach pains for the first time. They lasted a few hours and then went away. About a week later, they came back again and they haven’t left since.
After the pain came back, I visited the Urgent Care where I was told that I had “Dyspepsia” or indigestion, and to take an antacid. After doing that for a few days and feeling no change, I went to the emergency room. I was there for 6 hours and gave blood and urine samples. I was sent home with a diagnosis of “Gastritis” and was told to take Prilosec OTC for 2 weeks and stay away from acidic foods. Looking back on it, that was horrible advice and I wish I never did it. After I got home from the ER, I started researching Gastritis and scaring myself thinking about how much my life was about to change with this new diagnosis. Two weeks later after finishing the Prilosec, I wasn’t feeling better at all. I was still getting the stomach pains daily. It was unlike anything I had ever felt. It wasn’t your typical stomach ache like nausea or gas. It felt like something was squeezing my insides. It felt tingly and tight. The pain began on the upper left side of my abdomen, but over time it moved. There were days I felt it on my right side, days I felt it on the left, and days were I felt it in my back. Over the next 2 months, I saw my PCP and had extensive blood work, an endoscopy, an ultrasound and a CT scan. The imaging tests showed nothing, meaning Gastritis wasn’t my problem. My blood work showed no signs of Celiac Disease or Parasites or H.Pylori. But they did show an extremely elevated IgE, High Eosinophils and Low Neutrophils. My doctor then sent me to allergy and immunology. I was there for no more than 10 minutes before the doctor told me she didn’t think food allergies were my problem, and she referred me to a Gastroenterologist (I had to wait 3 months to see him and this dude really told me I needed to drink more gatorade and take laxatives and sent me home).
In August, my friend told me about a doctor who she worked for. This doctor specialized in integrative medicine, meaning she combined traditional western medical practices with a holistic approach. This new doctor sent me for blood work and in September I found out I had multiple low level nutrients, Candida (a fungal infection my gut), and multiple low level food allergies. On September 19th, 2016, I had my last hoorah. I went out to dinner with a friend and ate all my favorites; cheese, french fries, bread, ice cream, wine, etc etc. On September 20th, 2016, I started my Candida diet. The list of foods I cut out was extensive. It included, gluten, dairy, all sugar (even fruit for a couple of months), all grains, all yeast, all “moldy foods” (peanuts, pistachios, mushrooms, eggplant, melon, etc), all processed foods, all hydrogenated oils, coffee, alcohol, carbonation, the list goes on. Essentially, my diet was reduced to organic meats and non starchy vegetables. A few months into my diet I started reintroducing nuts, grains, starchy vegetables and fruits. A few months later, I cut all those things out again. I was willing to do whatever I needed to to feel better, but nothing worked. I started noticing more and more symptoms ranging from skin issues, to depressed mood, to hair loss. I’ve never been so emotionally drained, stressed out, and genuinely sad in my life. I lost more weight than I ever intended to and hated how I looked. My poor boyfriend had to hold me while I sobbed every night for probably a month. It was easily the most difficult and darkest thing I had ever gone through. From September 2016 to January 2017, my medication regimen was all natural. I rotated anti-fungals, took vitamins, and several other natural supplements. Of all the supplements I took, I never really felt like one truly worked. The only thing I based it off of was the pain I was feeling. There were days where it wasn’t as bad as others, but generally, it never really went away. In January, following a 3 day comprehensive stool analysis, I asked my doctor if I could try an antibiotic. I was put on Fluconazole for one month. The test showed inflammation and dysbiosis, so I wanted to try something stronger. After the month was over, i went back to my anti-fungals.
In April 2017, I went to see my doctor again. We switched up my medication, and re-tested for candida. A week later, I got my results showing that I had successfully killed the Candida infection. This basically made me cry tears of joy because I had stayed up nights getting lost on the internet (do not fucking do this no matter what, it doesn’t help) trying to self diagnose and learn ways to treat myself. Everything I read said that it can take people years to get rid of candida, and sometimes it never goes away. That was one thing that made the process so hard. There was no end date. Nobody ever said, do this diet for 8 months and then you’ll feel better. It was all up in the air. I thought I was going to have to eat nothing but greens for the rest of my life. But I practiced incredible discipline and self-control, and I did what I needed to do.
In May 2017, I went to see my doctor again, and she told me that I could start slowly reintroducing foods into my diet to see how I handled them. So that’s exactly what I did. Over the past month I’ve been reintroducing foods and nothing has really bothered me. I’m so happy my Candida is gone, but unfortunately, I still get this damn stomach pain. A year later, and i’m not 100% sure what the hell is going on in my body….but at least I don’t have to feel like a fucking barn animal grazing on grass and hay and can eat some real food. I’m not done trying to figure everything out. I still have suspicions like mold toxicity, lyme disease, and more. I want so badly just to pinpoint whats causing my pain so I can get rid of it. I will eventually.
If you are still reading, thank you. If you are going through something similar, I am here for you. You can use this blog as a support system. I know how hard it is to have health issues, especially when you’re someone like me who was healthy their whole life leading up to this point. I’m not a doctor, I can’t give you medical advice, but I can share my experience and help ease your worry.