In writing the Beautiful Voyager, I dig into how stress affects our bodies, sharing the hard-won discoveries about my own lifelong migraines and nausea.
I've wondered how people in my life are struggling with confusing physical symptoms at any time. The journey to diagnosis can be an uphill and silent battle. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting lucky and reading a blog post at the right time.
To that end, I'm sharing a little Q&A with a friend of mine, who I'll call FS. After years of trying to figure out what was wrong with her, FS was diagnosed last year with SIBO.
SIBO's a confusing condition that mimics Irritable Bowel Syndrome in many cases. It's actually a result of a bacterial overgrowth in the lower intestine. When she first told me about it, it was the first time I had heard of SIBO. I immediately had a feeling it wouldn't be the last. Indeed, just last week another friend was diagnosed with it.
MA: How long did you know something was wrong before you were diagnosed?
FS: A little over 3 years.
MA: What do you tell people when they ask what SIBO is?
FS: I always tell them it's "digestive issues."
MA: Were you ever misdiagnosed?
FS: Yes, I was misdiagnosed with IBS. I don’t have IBS.
MA: Does anyone else you know have it?
FS: No, not by formal diagnosis. (Except the friend of yours you connected me to).
MA: It feels to me like SIBO is one of those things that a lot of people suddenly are finding out about. Has your doctor mentioned an uptick in cases?
FS: You can find articles and knowledge of SIBO only 6 or so years back on the internet. It's something that doctors have started paying attention too the past couple years, and only GI specialists really know about it. You’ll find that primary care docs and nurses don’t know about it, and as a result they misdiagnose it. You can be given medications that will actually make it worse.
MA: What do you have to do differently?
FS: I've had a full revamp of my diet and how I think about meals. It's helped.
MA: How are you feeling now?
FS: Still having symptoms but better, emotionally more so than physically, because I at least know it’s not just “stress." It’s a thing that I have and I'm dealing with it.
I'd love to hear more from others who have successfully dealt with confusing physical issues and who are starting to make progress. What steps did you take? What got you feeling better?