On school, health, and listening to your gut

Hi there! Happy Monday. Wow I never thought I would place the words happy and Monday together, first time for everything?

In my last post I briefly told you guys about my school schedule this semester along with some medical happenings. Today’s post is meant to give an update on how things have been going and what my sights are set on for the near future. I told you I was taking chemistry and calculus, well I dropped my calculus course end of last week. After missing my class three times, twice due to doctors appointments and once due to a visit to the ER I found myself more and more confused and lost in the material. I wasn’t learning anything rather just stressing out over how I was going to pull off the grade I need. Right now my stress level is a non-negotiable because I need to keep my health in check. As much as I didn’t want to drop the course, I’m beyond glad I did. A huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. On the other hand my chemistry course is going great and I’m really loving it. Plus my lab partner is awesome which is super helpful.

Lesson learned: accept limitations. Don’t kill yourself over something that just isn’t going to be worth it in the end. There are other semesters to take this course. It isn’t the end of the world.

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So, what have I been seeing the doctors for? First a brief history… I’ve experienced digestive issues since early childhood, nothing crazy, and nothing that has ever been given a specific diagnosis. My father has Crohn’s disease however and there has always been a question about whether or not that’s the issue, as in whether or not that is where I’m headed per say. While there is absolutely credibility within that theory it also doesn’t completely make sense yet at the same time none of my symptoms really make complete sense – but let’s be honest, what ever does? After my most recent relapse, about two years ago, I’ve been around the circle with different doctors, theories, tests, and still no answer. While I still see a few physicians I’ve definitely taken more of an effort into being my own doctor. Just to lay it all on the table, I think that my last relapse is what has triggered this phenomenon of physiological distress within my body. The consensus of my doctors is: there is an auto-immune process happening however at this time there isn’t an actual diagnosis to be made (of a specific auto-immune disease) but that it’s something to watch and monitor incase things get worse. Well, personally I’d rather not let things get worse and I would like to (read: I am) doing all that is possible to prevent a full-blown attack of my body on itself which for those of you who don’t know much about autoimmunity is probably the most cut and dry way to put what it basically is.

Over this last two-year time span I’ve been scoped twice, had plenty of blood work, a liver biopsy, and been tested for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and parasites. What is known with certainty is that there is a presence of auto-antibodies in my blood consistently along with some other abnormalities which I’m not going to get specific on at this time. For those of you interested in medicine they are ANA and ASMA. ANA, which stands for anti-nuclear antibody is a fairly non-specific antibody which can be present or absent in many auto-immune related issues. It can also appear in a healthy individual but usually at a lower titer, which is the scale used to measure the concentration of this antibody in the blood. Essentially it’s a quantitative analysis. ASMA, which stands for anti-smooth muscle antibody is much more specific. Usually a high concentration of this antibody is linked directly with either mono or auto-immune hepatitis (which is the form that is non-infectious but rather the body seeing the liver as foreign and attacking the smooth muscle which it is made up of). Given the presence of this my gastro ordered a liver biopsy to ensure this was not the issue I am dealing with, which thankfully it’s not. That said there is still much confusion around why I have these two antibodies. It could mean something yet it could mean absolutely nothing other than this is my genetic make-up from my parents. What is also known is that there is some issue with my colon. During my first colonoscopy my doctor was unable to get through the splenic flexure (where the transverse colon meets the descending colon) because it was twisted. That is italicized because this is a complex topic and can again mean something or mean nothing and that is something that hasn’t been completely determined yet. More than likely (read: in my opinion) it is something I will just have to “work around” in my life. My second scope was more successful and the attending doctor (a different one than the first scope) told me that while it was quite challenging for him to get through he did and that my colon is floppy and large. OK, cool, what does that even mean? Couldn’t tell ya.

About eight months ago I began to feel better, not super healthy, but better and that was enough. While I wanted to feel great I accepted good. This was until close to two months ago, I began to “flare” again. This is why I’ve been seeing my doctors again and seeing if anything has changed since my last work-up. Somewhat to my surprise yet at that same time not, nothing has changed significantly. Which probably just means that my body is flaring and something has triggered these issues to get worse again. Recently I began seeing a functional medicine practitioner who a friend recommended to me which is been a journey on it’s own. Functional medicine is a whole different ball game than western medicine and I like it. Between seeing this new guy and just this entire journey in and of itself I’ve definitely come up with a few things that do help even though I still have far to go on finding what my body thrives on. I’ll do a follow up post end of the week (after I have my next consult with this doctor) on where I am heading and what has been helping, along with some more specifics into symptoms and thoughts around digestive issues.

If there is one major lesson I’ve learned through all of this: it’s absolutely essential to listen to your gut because nine times out of ten you know what is best for you. The question is whether or not you choose to accept that and honor it. I’m no exception because it has taken me a LONG time in order to accept what works and put it into practice. And on that note I’m not perfect, there are still things which aren’t the best and that I need to work on.

Have you experienced any strange digestive issues that you care to share? Stories fully welcome, no judgment.

Ever worked with a functional practitioner?

What are you currently doing to better take care of YOU?!

Cheers, S ♥

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11 thoughts on “On school, health, and listening to your gut

  1. I’m taking a chem class right now that is kicking my BUTT! I literally spend HOURS on this one class, but I have learned to minimize my stress by telling myself that this class does not define me!! I will make it out alive, and as long as I put in the work I will be just fine!! I find myself getting lost in the material though, and then I have to spend some time with my teacher!!

    • Chemistry is tough sh*t. For real. Exactly as long as you put in your part and do all that you are able to learn the material, you will succeed! I have total faith in your ability to do that 🙂 Looking forward to see how the rest of the semester goes for you!

  2. I’m currently studying to be a health coach and learning all about functional medicine! I’ve never seen a FM doctor, but I would love to. I agree- it’s so important to listen to you gut– physically and emotionally. I’ve suffered with food allergies and it wasn’t until I took charge of my own health (like you) that I finally began to feel better. Good luck, girl!

    • That’s awesome! Congratulations. Are you learning through IIN? Thank you for the well wishes! Food allergies/intolerance’s are pesky and super difficult to pin point in some cases and just all the other physiological mechanisms within our bodies which can have minor-major issues yet present themselves with symptoms which one would never relate back to said mechanism. Our bodies are for sure intricate things which require a whole lot of tlc.

  3. I’m glad you don’t feel bad about dropping calculus! I have dropped a few classes in my college years and felt SO. MUCH. GUILT. Why?! I don’t even know. I dropped a gym class because I needed to spend more time studying for statistics and I also dropped a meteorology class because it was too hard. Oh well. At the time, it felt like the end of the world and I was embarrassed! Now I look back and just laugh. Time does that, you know?

    As for digestive stuff and the like. Whew. I couldn’t agree with you more about listening to your gut (pun intended?!) lol. I have had so many digestive issues, too! I’m lactose intolerant and had H. Pylori twice and it rocked my world in the worst way. I was so sick and it just was awful. I think since then I’ve always had problems. When I get stressed I “flare” in a way similar to you, and doctors don’t know what to do. They’ve thought I had celiac disease (that God I don’t or else I would cry haha), Crohns, IBS, and more. I feel like nothing is ever cut and dry in the medical world anymore and like you, I never got answers for my whole slew of random symptoms that were messing with my mojo in life. The struggle is real. Now I just try and adapt myself to my situations and what’s going on. When I’m stressed, it’s like it goes straight to my gut, so I’ve learned (most of the time… ha) to step back and just stop the stress in whatever way I can. I’ve learned what foods work and which don’t for my body, and I just try to go from there. Is it awesome? No. I hate when I don’t feel great, and I want answers, but half the time doctors in the Western world just don’t cut it anymore. It’s sad. Anyways, I would love to hear about functional practitioners more! Hang in there and keep us posted on how you’re doing!

    • I definitely wanted to feel guilt, if that makes sense? I felt like I wasn’t good enough, and that because I dropped this course it meant I would never become a doctor. Hello, how irrational is that?! Where in real life it’s the best step and will probably help me down the line because I accepted my limit when it needed to be accepted. Time does do that.

      Total pun intended haha! I feel like H.Pylori is one of those things that someone never really “comes back from” in terms of their digestive health. I mean it’s intense and the treatment is intense and hard for the body to respond to. Nothing is ever cut and dry which is good and bad. Good because it means the medical realm is looking at each case individually versus grouping (kind of) but bad because everything is so complex and hard to diagnose especially in out of the ordinary cases. Yes, the struggle is real you have the right my friend. Will do and feel free to facebook or email me anytime if you need to complain/vent or even to make some digestive jokes because I have plenty 🙂 xo

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