The seven-month mark since the surgery has come and gone, and I don’t have a lot to add beyond my six-month report other than two cliches: (a) I still have no regrets, and (b) time flies, doesn’t it?
Instead of blood pressure and potassium, I’m finding myself far more focused on the nutrient malabsorption problem that is the likely culprit behind my vision issues. The Vitamin A supplements I’m supposed to be taking, like nearly everything I ingest that isn’t chicken, eggs, rice, spinach, or nuts, were making me sick. As in, stay close to the restroom sick. Use your imagination… So, in frustration last week I asked my doctor why not instead focus on keeping the nutrients I get from my food *in* me, rather than just keep taking more nutrients.
He did a quick bullet-pointed rundown of things that can cause malabsorption syndromes, the obvious ones being celiac disease and lactose intolerance. Check, and check – both present and accounted-for, as well as fructose intolerance, but I’ve been strictly gluten-, lactose-, and fructose-free for years. Why the sudden increase of symptoms?
On to the next theory: a bacterial infection, commonly known as SIBO (and getting a bit of non-scholarly press these days, making me an immediate skeptic, but still keeping an open mind). He wanted me to do a hydrogen test, which is how my lactose and fructose intolerances were diagnosed – and which, when I had it done in 2003, left me sick for two weeks afterward. No thanks. Instead he opted to go for an “empirical trial” of antibiotics – Xifaxan 550mg twice a day for 10 days.
The first day of the meds, I felt worse than ever. The second day – much better. And today, 4 days into the course of meds, my stomach seems to have calmed down more than – ever, really. As with most celiacs and others with food intolerances, I’ve had mysterious digestive issues my entire life, and this sudden feeling of, erm, inner peace is probably not something I’ve ever experienced before.
Unfortunately, this brings up more questions than answers, really. The fact that the antibiotic has done something to calm things down is pretty conclusive proof that I have some sort of bacterial infection; whether or not it’s officially SIBO remains unknown. Does that matter? I don’t know. Whether or not this is a permanent fix is also unknown; the SIBO info I’ve found online all seems to point toward repeated courses of antibiotics. Which I’m not thrilled about.
Besides antibiotic therapy, there are a few approaches to dietary intervention for SIBO: GAPS diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and Low FODMAP Diet. Of these, the third is somewhat related to the fructose-free diet that I already follow, so I’m reading up a bit more on that. The downside for me is that all three of these rely heavily on animal products *and* home cooking – not my favorite combination, as I am the world’s most squeamish cook! Which means that really, nothing much will change – I’ll continue to live on chicken, eggs, rice, spinach, and nuts, but hopefully after the course of drugs is done, I’ll actually get some nutritional benefits from these things. Which is the whole point of eating, right? 🙂