This post will deal with Depression, IBS, MTHFR, Eating Disorders, Dietary Restrictions, Chronic UTI’s ( Urinary Tract Infections) and a New Year full exciting changes! It's a longer than normal, wordy post but I hope some of you find it helpful.
It’s one of my favorite times of year, full of fresh starts, blank pages and hope. A new addition to my New Year’s routine of resolutions is starting small and building up. Most of the time I start with a list of ten things and by the end of the first week of January have given up on them all and feel like I’m drowning in a puddle of despair because nothing has changed. So baby steps it is. This post is one of those steps.
I’ve been looking forward and dreading this blog post for a long time. Typically I tend to be aloof when it comes to things I consider personal and private. I don’t like to be an open book. . . or blog for that matter… But over the past several years B and I have each had our own health struggles and one of the things that has helped us both is other people sharing what they’ve learnt through conversations, blogs, or books.
At the start of 2015 I want to tell you where I’m at, how I got here and where I hope to be in the next few months. I want to share this with you because typing “blood in urine,” into Google on your smartphone while you’re on vacation in another country is a less than ideal.
Before I share my story I want you to understand two things
1. I am in the middle of all this now and don’t fully understand it all
2. I’m not a doctor and most of the progress I’ve seen has been accomplished by working with medical professionals – which has at times been extremely discouraging, difficult, and embarrassing – but has been hugely helpful.
IBS and Disordered Eating //
Since I was small I’ve dealt with GI issues and severe headaches. In high school I was diagnosed with IBS and given pain meds. I was told it was stress related and something that would come and go and I had little control over it other than avoiding combinations of stressful situations and greasy foods. Many things would trigger upset stomachs followed by hours of sitting in the bathroom and – honestly I’d rather not go into details but you get the idea - or there would be blinding headaches that were similarly linked to stress and IBS.
I’d go to doctors and get different tests done. Colonoscopies, stool tests, blood tests. But no one ever tested for allergies. I’d ask for them but often times didn’t feel heard. During this time I developed an eating disorder. It was never a conscious choice, simply because things made me sick and I never knew what they were going to be. But it wasn't just that. It was also a huge control thing. The more out of control things felt, school, life, health, finances, the more I’d control eating. I went to a nutritionist and asked her to do an allergy test. She told me symptoms of anorexia were very similar to IBS and in order to do an accurate test I’d need to gain 10 lbs. She gave me a meal plan that included yogurt, bread, and eggs (as you read on you’ll find out all these things make me sick.) So I left feeling unheard, crazy, and irritated.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since high school. Two years ago my doctor advised me to take anti depressants and start seeing a counselor. I am so thankful for both of these things – and honestly believe everyone should been in counseling at some point. As far as the meds go, that’s a personal choice and one I fought for years. But for this season they’ve been very helpful.
Chronic UTI’s //
In May of this year I got married to my lovely husband. A month after being married we were on a trip with our friends in Canada when I walked into a bathroom and started peeing blood. I began to panic and could feel my body shaking. Googling “blood in urine,” never goes well – when I came back to the table (we’d been getting drinks with friends) Joel could tell I was upset. We went up to our hotel room and after some online reading decided it was a UTI. When we got home I went to the doctors, took a UTI test, found out that’s what it was and began a course of antibiotics.
This became a regular occurrence and every 3-5 weeks I would have a UTI. 4 UTI’s later I ended up in the ER after waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweats freaking out. The amazing doctor there looked over my chart and was appalled that I’d been put on 3 different antibiotics and no one had followed up or found it concerning that I was having recurring UTI’s- apparently 3 in a year is excessive. He put me on a new super strong antibiotic and sent me to a Urologists. I didn't know what a urologist was. Hint: they mainly see men.
I saw a urologists several days later who told me I had honeymoonitis and could expect the UTI’s to continue for the next 6 months. He was a very nice man and made me feel less crazy and embarassed about the whole thing. He prescribed more antibiotics- these ones I would need to take everyday for the foreseeable future.
Sure enough the UTI’s continued. I was missing work and getting every cold that came around in addition to UTI’s. A typical month consisted of feeling fine for a week, getting a cold or some other illness for a week, my period for a week, followed by a UTI – or basically feeling semi-okay one week out of the month.
I’d pretty much given up hope in doctors and was done seeing specialists but decided I would give a naturopath a try in one final effort to figure things out.
I walked into the office and two hours later had finished talking through my medical history . My doctor had listened, asked questions and taken extensive notes. She then slowly talked me through what we would do.She did a blood panel to test for things like thyroid and anemia (I’d had these in the past), a blood test for food sensitivities, a blood test for something called MTHFR which I’d never heard of, and talked me through next steps.
We started out with the basics: Fish Oil, Multi-Vitamins, Vitamin D, and Probiotics. We also added a urinary tract soothing tea, all natural cranberry juice, lots of water, Uristatin, and D-mannose - all natural remedies to fight / and help heal the urinary tract from UTI’s. (Blog post on all this to follow).
I was back at the doctors two weeks later with the worst UTI yet. I was in a lot of pain and feeling pretty stupid, as I’d neglected to take any of the vitamins or even pick up the tea. She put me on antibiotics and didn’t scold but encouraged me to try to be disciplined and when I left I went strait to the pharmacy and picked up the tea.
Several weeks later we got the results of my blood work back. I had one genetic mutation from the MTHFR test the A1298C one. People with this experience a lot of GI issues and …. DEPRESSION! We got the food test back. I was sensitive to dairy, gluten, eggs, sugar, peanuts, and almonds. (Remember that nutritionist... yea.) As my doctor talked me through this she said “ I didn’t know how I was going to tell someone who struggles with an eating disorder that they had to cut out a ton of different foods, but let’s look at it this way look at all the things you can eat.” I just felt relief – things were starting to at least make sense and I was feeling less crazy. For so long I had felt like I was just making a big deal out of nothing and that I just needed to toughen up.
This was in November. Joel and I decided we’d start the food elimination in January after all the Holidays – Joel is going to do this with me, which is amazing! He’s been so loving to me through this whole series of events and never once made me feel like I was a burden – something I consistently was tempted to believe.
So why did I share on this on the blog? Well because as I’ve been dealing with this I’ve had so many conversations where ladies I know are struggling with the same things in different capacities. As I start eliminating and learning to plan meals, cook, be disciplined, and hopefully begin to experience some healthy changes I want to share that. Also as silly as it may sound so many resources look clinical and not pretty at all – and having a pretty place to put all these things will really help me and hopefully help some of you.
B can tell you more about her story / health. She has different things. But we both want to create something that is beautiful, helpful, and enjoyable for those of you who may be dealing with any number of these things.
I’ll write some more detailed posts about supplements etc. and flush out some of the things I’ve shared above as this year goes on – also see the MTHFR page for more details about that. Please share your thoughts and experiences below! That’s why this post is up – so you know you’re not the only one!
The Emily Program - A resource for those dealing with eating disorders. I've not personally used this resource but have heard great things.
"At The Emily Program, we combine our evidence-based treatment with personalized holistic care. We’ve found that effective eating disorder treatment requires awareness of the genetic, biological, psychological, social, and cultural impacts on each client."
*Suicide Prevention Life Line - 1-800-273-8255
*Whenever talking about depression it can be hard to think about - don't deal with it alone! Okay!