A few weeks after Thanksgiving, I received the results of a naturopathic stool test I’d done in November. Called the GI Effects Panel, this test looks for parasites in your gut, measures your inflammatory markers, and reveals insights about your gut bacteria. As expected, I had high inflammation and no detectable parasites. But a graphic showed that, compared to the general population, my bacterial diversity was abysmal.
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Virtually all diet advice, in America, seems to be written with the assumption that everyone wants to lose weight. Since I’ve long had the opposite desire, it was not unreasonable for me to wonder, for most of my youth, if I should do the opposite of what was recommended for most people. If avoiding carbs helps you lose weight, then shouldn’t I be pigging out on pasta?
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Here is a mind-bending question for you: When you swallow a piece of food, is it really inside your body? Alison’s comment had gotten me thinking. “If you think about it,” she said, “your skin and your colon are connected.” The skin of the face is connected to the lips, which are connected to the mouth, which leads to the esophagus, the stomach, the intestines, the colon, the rectum, the … Continue reading →
I was having trouble believing something my doctors said. According to them, I only had proctitis. My disease was supposedly only in the rectum, the farthest-out portion of the colon. My colonoscopy in February and my sigmoidoscopy in May had shown the rest of my colon to look perfectly healthy, with a smooth, pink lining and tidy little red veins. It looked the way a colon is supposed to look. … Continue reading →
Today was Day 27 of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and my one-month trial was almost over. It was time to make some decisions. I’d given this diet a month because Breaking the Vicious Cycle states that you need a month to know if it will work for you. Presumably, if it works, your symptoms will improve: less diarrhea, less blood in your stools, more energy. If after a month your symptoms … Continue reading →
After a few months with colitis, I discovered a new skill. Not only was I learning to adjust my routines, diet, and social life, but I could often tell when others were doing the same. I was acquiring disease radar. Disease-dar? I bumped into Alison, a woman who, years ago, had taught me the Arabic alphabet. I love languages and international travel, and Arabic is fascinating and important. During class I … Continue reading →
As a physician, I was trained to deal with uncertainty as aggressively as I dealt with disease itself… “I don’t know” had long been a statement of shame… In all of my training I do not recall hearing it said aloud even once. But as I listened to more and more people with life-threatening illness tell their stories, not knowing simply became a matter of integrity. – Rachel Naomi Remen … Continue reading →
Since my meds weren’t working, in mid-May my doctors prescribed a sigmoidoscopy to see what was happening inside my colon. The sigmoid colon is the colon’s last segment before the rectum. Unlike a full colonoscopy, which traverses all six-or-so feet of the colon, a sigmoidoscopy just goes up several inches. You’d be surprised how excited I was to get this procedure. I had just finished Mary Roach’s Gulp: Adventures on the … Continue reading →
Before I go much further, I should say a few words about poop. One of the most isolating things about this illness is the grossness of its symptoms. No one wants to be associated with poop. I mean, really. No matter that I know it’s not my fault; no matter that I know other people know it’s not my fault. I know you don’t want me to be embarrassed, that you’re … Continue reading →