Diagnoses: When Symptoms Collide Part II

I’m finally sitting down to write the sequel to Diagnoses: When Symptoms Collide, which was a continuation of The Worst Rubes Goldberg Ever.

I left off in early December after having my iud removed and feeling much improved, but not cured yet of my inexplicable acid reflux. A week after that appointment I had an orthopedic follow up. I almost cancelled because I had been feeling pretty good but decided to go in anyway just to have a few questions answered. AM I GLAD I DID!

During the conversation with my orthopedist, I mentioned the possibility of my hyper mobility being a factor in my acid reflux. He didn’t think that sounded too likely but as I explained the symptoms of my gut he said it sounded strange. He went to school with a guy who he thought could help me out. Right then and there he called his friend (who is a GI nurse practitioner of 20 years) and told him my situation. Of course, lots of people experience acid reflux but once he was told how old I am and all the things I’ve done to fix it with no progress, the GI guy wanted to see me right away. He cleared his schedule and I got right in for a visit.

What a blessing that phone call has been! If I hadn’t decided to follow up with my orthopedist and if he hadn’t “known a guy” and if “that guy” just blew me off like all the other GI doctors I had seen, I’d still be a miserable sack of acid. INSTEAD, I’m almost completely cured. Finally!

But let’s go back a step or two…

So this GI guy is a bit of a character but that’s what’s made him an answer to my prayers. He listens. REALLY listens. He asks questions and digs until he has a clear picture of what I’ve been suffering with and what needs to be done about it. The answers are relatively simple but require a lot of patience.

  • He said it was likely that I had the clostridium difficile bacteria in my intestines for years. It’s very common to have it and not have symptoms. But when I got sick with the flu going on two years ago, it kicked off the delicate balance started the acid reflux, which was a symptom of gut that was already just hanging on to normalcy.
  • When the other GI doctors prescribed me strong antibiotic after strong antibiotic, it kicked my gut into fledged clostridium difficile colitis
  • After getting that under control (it’s never really cured and can come back with another bug or use of an antibiotic) my acid reflux was still bothering me. Getting the iud out helped because the nerve endings in the uterus are somehow connected to the nerves in the intestines and the whole area was under such stress.
  • I still had acid reflux though, so he had me continue my prescription-strength acid reducer and strong probiotics. But the kicker? He prescribed me ground flax seed to eat at the same time as the probiotic. See, probiotics will go straight through, not doing any good if they don’t have something to bind on to and sit in the intestines working their magic. Enter the flaxseed. I have to eat a tablespoon of it at the same time every day (I usually put it in nutella or cream cheese or orange juice) because gastrointestinal systems very much likes a schedule.
  • This has to be done for quite some time so it can build up in your body.
After 6 weeks of this I had become 85% better of all my acid issues. And then I went to Mexico… dum, dum, duuuuuuuummmmm!
Mexico was great. Mexico was grand. Until I got sick. Probably from some pico de gallo or the hands that prepared it. Many people get sick in foreign countries but it usually lasts a couple of days at most. Mine held on for a week, then two weeks, then over three weeks! I finally made it back to my trusty GI guy and he said, YEP! That’s a lingering symptom of ever having c. diff colitis. My system will forever be oversensitive to food poisoning. 
Getting sick in Mexico kicked in my acid reflux once again. It was so bad. I had to sleep sitting almost straight up for three weeks and was miserable all day long. 
Once again, I had to give my body time to heal itself with the flax and probiotic and acid reducer. After two more months, I’m practically healed. I still feel it when I lay flat on my back or have a really empty stomach but that’s it. I can now actually sit and I don’t have to leave my pants unbuttoned all day like a redneck (but I still do because I’m paranoid that the acid will come back). 
A few follow up notes:
  • I’ve been catching every sickness going around because many of the germs that make us sick get absorbed through our intestines. Since I’ve had weak intestines, my immune system itself has been weak.
  • I shouldn’t visit countries that have a high risk for making travelers sick. Well, Mexico, it was nice knowing you! I wasn’t happy hearing that about 1/3 of the world is now un-travel-able to me. 
  • I can’t take any antibiotics, EVER, without cultures being done first to see exactly what bacteria to treat and exactly how low and short of a dose can be taken. AND it has to go through my GI’s approval first. 
  • I will eventually be healed completely of my acid reflux and other symptoms to the point where I won’t need to take any more medicine for it. It’ll still take another 12-18 months, though. BLEH.

My body will always run the risk of getting c. diff colitis again. If I do catch it again, the likelihood of catching it again and again goes up exponentially. Then the only likely cure for it is (hold on to your seat, folks…) a fecal transplant. Say, wha??!!!! Yes I’m totally serious and yes, Rob has graciously volunteered his excellent poop. Oh. My. Goodness!!!! You, guys!!! Cringe, cringe, cringe!!  

So that’s it. 
Easy as pie, I hang my head and sigh.

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