If you’ve spent any time with me over the past couple years, you’ve probably heard me complain about my challenges with gut health, painful bloating, food sensitivities and maybe even (if I was comfortable enough with you) constipation.
My earliest memory of an extreme bloating “episode” was in January of 2015, when Andy and I visited Aaron and Melinda in Pittsburgh. After arriving on a Friday night, Bug, Melinda and I crushed martinis that destroyed my stomach. The next day, Aaron unloaded his antacid supply on me with no resolve. I was in a bad way for the entirety of the following week but I chalked it up to the alcohol and unhealthy food. See, the most devastating symptoms always followed a weekend of binge drinking and eating like a complete jerk, and these extreme episodes of discomfort started about a year after I became, what the kids are calling these days, a "clean eater." So I guess it became easy to be convinced that my usual diet had become so restrictive of crap food that my body wasn't able to properly digest it anymore.
I finally reached a breaking point in June of 2016. I had started taking pictures of my stomach during bloating episodes that made me look 6 months pregnant (picture above dated 5/1/16 - And yes, Andy and I joked about taking expecting photos) and was keeping a detailed food journal. I went to my PCP to ask for a referral to see a Gastroenterologist. My PCP told me he was “up-to-date” on gut health research and would help me figure out what was going on. He sent me for blood work, a thyroid ultrasound and had me try eliminating gluten for two weeks and then dairy for two weeks. When all of this failed to reveal the cause of my symptoms, he said to me - right after one of his receptionists angrily knocked on the door to alert him that it was time to move on to the next patient - “well, you look good and you don’t need to lose weight, so just keep eating fermented foods and maintaining a food journal."
In case anyone is interested, it was actually an appointment with my gynecologist in the beginning of June that convinced me to look for a GI who didn't require a referral from my PCP.
This one's for you, Dr. Imran... you the real MVP.