About four years ago I ended a terrible relationship with a guy who left me in a poor financial state. There is no blame here but it is at this point where I noticed some serious health concerns. Between picking myself up and moving on, finishing a degree and working two jobs, my health took a turn for the worse. The break-up was the straw that broke the camels’ back. I have always considered myself from a young age to be somewhat sickly with constant health problems. They range, from asthma, fatigue, environmental allergies, severe menstrual problems, and now I have acquired major food allergies, been diagnosed with IBS, and had my first ocular migraine. Needless to say, that stress is most likely the underlying culprit. Getting rid of stress is key but next to impossible in the world we currently live in.
I have tried so many things to tackle these symptoms and health problems. I have also encountered many obstacles within the healthcare system in British Columbia. It’s unfortunately a terribly managed health system out here and extremely short staffed in all medical fields. If you are not 80 years old or dying then your health problems are of no immediate concern. My primary physician actually told me that I am too young to get a colonoscopy. That was literally a criteria preventing me from getting further treatment or meeting with a GI specialist, even with all my pain and consistent symptoms. One time I ended up in the ER at the Royal Jubilee Hospital due to major abdominal and back pain. We had to argue with the ER nurse to get better treatment than sending me home with a laxative. They finally sent me for an X-ray and I waited hours to see a GI specialist who was nice enough to fit me into his schedule. He did his routine check-up and finally told me that (and I quote), “years ago I would have put a scope up there and checked everything out but now if you don’t go to the bathroom for a year I won’t be concerned unless your anus falls out during a bowel movement”.
So, what do you do? Increasing symptoms, IBS (an extremely broad diagnosis with no actually testing), new health issues, surmounting food allergies, a diet change that is beyond overwhelming, and you cannot slow down your life because you have to pay the bills. This is my self-help guide to you based purely on personal experience.
1. Get a primary care physician or ensure you constantly go to the same walk-in clinic. Do not go anywhere that is convenient. You want a history with the same person or medical centre. As far as I know there is no primary database where all your past medical history can be accessed.
2. Go see a naturopathic doctor. They are essential in helping with your symptomology. I found my ND gave me a direction and could provide temporary relief and actually figured out some of the underlying causes to my health issues.
3. First thing I did with my naturopathic doctor was to get a food allergy test done. You need to find “secondary food allergies”. A primary food allergy would lead to anaphylaxis and possibly death. These secondary food allergies are found through certain proteins. You will have to get bloodwork done after eating specific foods on a list. These foods need to be eaten in 10 and 3 day intervals. I don’t care how much this test costs. Go get it done. This is the first step to feeling healthier. After finding out my allergies (and there were several) I was put on a detox/cleanse. By removing wheat, dairy, and eggs I dropped over 20lbs and most of it in one month. My fatigue improved and the fog that always clouded me lifted.
4. You could try an elimination diet. This is time-consuming and probably should be monitored by a physician. My mom did an elimination diet and she figured out all her food issues. There was major weightloss with her progress but it was well worth it and she is back to a healthy weight since she can now absorb nutrients.
5. Since you are new to this process of food allergies and/or IBS then you need to keep a food journal. I am back to keeping one because I still have not figured out all my sensitivities. They do seem to be changing and I have become increasingly sensitive due to cleaning up my system.
6. Share your struggles with others. I had my mom. If I didn’t have her to talk to then I feel like I would have lost my mind. Doctor’s would try to put me on anti-depressants. I would cry constantly due to the frustration of not knowing what is wrong with me but being reminded everyday that my health is taking a nosedive. Ironically, stress triggers IBS and the symptoms then cause more stress. You are stuck in a vicious cycle. I cannot stress that enough. Talk to someone right away about all your problems or it will overwhelm you and make everything worse.
These were the small steps I took over time. I am hoping that by sharing these tips that it will speed up the process for you in finding a solution and ultimately a happier life.
Don’t give up,