The Healthy Gut Podcast Episode 6

The Healthy Gut Podcast Ep 6: SIBO patient's perspective

The Healthy Gut Podcast Ep. 6

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SIBO: The patient’s perspective with Katie Caldwell

Do you want to hear how one woman successfully beat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth while also dealing with other medical conditions?

In this episode of The Healthy Gut Podcast, Rebecca Coomes talks to Katie Caldwell, a fellow SIBOer who is a SIBO patient success story.  She has beaten SIBO and kept it away.

In today’s episode

In Episode 6 of The Healthy Gut Podcast, we discuss:

✓ How Katie found a diagnosis and treatment so quickly

✓How she successfully treated SIBO but then feared it would return after using antibiotics for H. Pylori

✓ The importance of listening to your body and continuing to investigate when symptoms persist

✓ What Katie learnt after her ovarian cancer diagnosis

✓ Katie’s thoughts on toxic positivity

✓ Why it’s ok to feel a range of emotions when dealing with a chronic illness like SIBO

Resources mentioned in today’s podcast

Connect with Katie Caldwell

Katie Caldwell

Katie Caldwell is a writer, social worker, and activist in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She teaches Gender Studies and Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She has suffered from SIBO, H Pylori, Hashimoto’s disease, and Ovarian cancer. She has a popular blog where she discusses health, travel, fitness, love, and relationships, with a high level of snark and sarcasm. She admins the largest SIBO support group in the world (via facebook) and has a strong professional background in domestic violence, sexual violence, and gender/race/queer studies. She loves cats, pizza, running, bourbon, and ridiculous puns. Connect with Katie >>

The Healthy Gut Podcast Ep. 6: SIBO patient's perspective

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About the host

Rebecca Coomes

Rebecca Coomes

Rebecca Coomes is an author, entrepreneur, passionate foodie and intrepid traveller. She transformed her health after a lifetime of chronic illness, and today guides others on their own path to wellness. She is the founder of The Healthy Gut, a platform where people can learn about gut health and how it is important for a healthy mind and body and coaches people on how to live well with SIBO. Rebecca is the author of the world’s first cookbooks for people treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and the host of the SIBO cooking show and The Healthy Gut podcast.

Read more about Rebecca >>

Podcast transcript

Welcome to the show Katie Caldwell. So great to have you here. Thanks for being a guest with the Healthy Gut Podcast.

KATIE: Thank you so much for having me. Aloha from Hawaii.

REBECCA:               Yeah. Hawaii is on my check list of places to go. I have seen a lot of the world and now Australia, we have direct flights to Hawaii. And I can’t wait to get myself their one day. It just looks so beautiful.

[00:31] KATIE: It is. It should be on your list. It’s pretty incredible. Never been to Australia either so that is on my list.

[00:37] REBECCA: we can do a swap. Let’s do a house swap.

KATIE: Let’s do it.

REBECCA: Yeah totally. Isn’t it amazing what SIBO can do, brings people together through adversity comes positivity.

KATIE: and we know that we all have the cooking tools we need right?

REBECCA: Exactly.

[00:56] REBECCA: So for the listeners of today’s podcast, so Katie and I connected on a Facebook group for SIBO, for people with SIBO. Way back when I first got diagnosed in early 2015, her name just kept popping up and she was someone who is also going through the condition and I reached out to Katie and asked if she would very kindly come on to the podcast to talk about life with SIBO as somebody that has lived it, breathed it, dealt with it, dealing with it currently and all of the associated conditions and scenarios that happen with SIBO. So I love for you Katie to talk about your journey. Like what happened to you to finally find out that you have SIBO and how long were you dealing with symptoms before you actually got a diagnosis?

[1:51] KATIE: Well I was quite lucky in that I had a really excellent practitioner straight away. I knew I had some health struggles happening. I suspected thyroid struggles or issues because that runs in my family. And I was having some trouble losing weight and I am an avid distance runner and at that time I was running about 55 miles a week. And still just slowly and settly gaining weight and feeling very tired and run down. So I had seen a few doctors. They seemed very unconcerned when they ran thyroid panels. But I just knew something was wrong.        And I had talked for years about seeing a naturopathic doctor but I had never done it and after getting nowhere with standard western docs, I finally went online, went on to Yelp and looked for the very best naturopath on the island of Oahu where I live. And lo and behold, the top rated one was on my very block where I live. And I thought, “Well if that isn’t a sign I don’t know what is.”

So I went to see her and I just loved her immediately. She breezed into the room all dewy skinned and rosy cheeked and just had this glow of someone that radiates health and I remember thinking, “Make me like you.” she, within a few weeks, diagnosed me with Hashimotos which is an autoimmune thyroid illness and I thought it was that simple. I would take some thyroid med. I was put on nature thyroid which was a natural desiccated thyroid. And I thought I will get better yey! And for a while it was a little better and I did feel more energetic. I did lose weight. And shortly thereafter my husband and I went on a 5 week trip to France and Morocco and we had a blast and I felt fantastic while I was abroad. I ate whatever I wanted and my digestion greatly improved while I was there. Even though I was eating things that I normally avoided. I mean I had gluten and pasta and wine and beer and I was just in heaven. And I think there is this assumption or misconception that everyone that has SIBO maybe got it from treating their body badly or eating terribly. But that was not at all the case for me. I had long been a healthy eater and avid exerciser and as soon as I stepped foot on US soil again my digestion started getting super funky.

And then came the bloating. The bloating we are also familiar with and load so furiously. I really tried to ignore it for a while but it became so uncontrollable that my husband would sit on the coach for a while and marvel at its size together. And finally a few weeks after returning home, I was standing in line at the food market and someone said, “Oh you are pregnant? You are al belly. Lucky you.” And I remember just feeling horrified. But I took a beat and I smiled and rubbed my little bacteria baby and just said, “thank you.” And then I immediately rushed home and called my new doctor. And it was so funny because within three minutes on the phone with her she said, “I think we need to test you for something called SIBO.” And that was that. It’s been very sad for me watch people struggle to find a practitioner that even knew what SIBO was let alone how to treat it when I had someone within 3 minutes that heard the symptoms. I was like, “I think this is SIBO.”

[5:32] REBECCA: Hallelujah! I am so happy to hear that there is a positive story out there finding a practitioner and getting a really quick diagnosis. Yey! That’s awesome!

[5:45] KATIE: I think I am an anomaly.

[5:48] REBECCA: sadly I think you are. I know when I think about my own journey and years of countless and fruitless visits to doctors and I had exactly the same thing where I have been congratulated by strangers for my pregnancy and it’s just my bacteria baby just like yours. And even with that, doctors are still saying, “Well you’ve just got IBS. Just deal with it.” so I am so happy to hear that you were able to get diagnosed quickly. And that really should be what it looks like and hopefully with all the advocacy and awareness that people like yourself and I and others are doing. Hopefully that will be a reality in the not too distant future.

[6:31] KATIE: Yes absolutely.

REBECCA: so from that point I am assuming she ran a breath test with you did she? To diagnose you with SIBO?

[6:43] KATIE: Yes we did the standard breath test you know measuring hydrogen and methane, lactulose and I had high hydrogen. I topped out at 133. It was actually the highest she had ever seen at that point. She treats SIBO a lot. But since then I have heard a few people with numbers 300 and 400s through my blog which is just insanity. I thought I had high numbers but I have heard much higher since.

[7:10] REBECCA: And I was hydrogen dominant. I can’t think of what my numbers were at the top of my head now but they were pretty high. They kind of skyrocketed and I remember my naturopath going, “Wow! You definitely got SIBO! It’s there.”

So what did treatment look like for you and how quickly did she get you on to a treatment protocol?

[7:32] KATIE: Very quickly. As soon as we got the result back that day, she orders xifaxin. And I did the standard stuff that I think a lot of people do. I did three rounds of xifaxin with a mountain of supplements combined with acupuncture and some vagus nerve exercises. I did the SCD diet plus low FODMAP strictly without a single cheat for 3 months straight. But in doing all of that I did not notice a single bit of difference. I quite literally felt the exact same. So I went back to her and said, “Whatever this is isn’t working. We need to do something else.”

So then we switched to herbal antibiotics and I took berberine, neem, and ADP which is the pill form of oregano oil. And did that for two months in super high doses. Also combined with the SCD and the low FODMAP diet. And again, no difference. I was at a terrible diarrhea. I was down to 97 pounds at that point. I am 5’4” so I am quite small. I had a horrible bloating and stomach pain pretty much every day. So in a moment of frustration, I went to see her again and said, “Let’s just do the damn elemental.” I’ve gotta do something and that was my last resort, sort of option. But at that point nothing else was working. So we talked through elemental diet options. Should I explain what element is?

[9:04] REBECCA: it would great for anyone that is listening that doesn’t know or hasn’t heard of it yet.

[9:08] KATIE: Ok. So the elemental diet is an all liquid diet that typically SIBOers partake in 2 to 3 weeks and it is designed to starve out the bacteria. So it is actually predigested solution. It is kind of compared to breast milk in that way and that your body stops digesting. It takes all the work out for your body and it just nourishes. It keeps you alive while starving out the bacteria. So it can be quite effective. There are only two studies on the elemental for SIBO specifically. And so thy proposed that this has an 80 to 85% success rate. With only two studies, I don’t know how we can concretely say that that is actually true. But in those two studies those were the numbers.

So those studies used a solution called Vivenex. There are a multiple options now like Absorb plus or….I forgot the other names. I have seen I think about 5 elemental diet options now. But because the studies use Vivenex, my doctor and I talked it through and we decided that that’s the one we would go for. I just didn’t want to get to the end of the elemental. It’s an incredibly difficult diet to follow through with and think, “what if I had done the one that was studied?” if the numbers didn’t come back pleasing me.

So that’s where we were and I did it for 23 days combined with a round of xifaxin which was 2 weeks. So I did that together. I just kind of wanted to hit it with everything I could find. And then the 3rd week I followed up with herbal antibiotics again. Along with the elemental. With elemental you cannot eat anything. You cannot have tea, you cannot have coffee. It is just these liquid shakes that tastes disgusting and smell horrible.

[11:02] REBECCA: I remember seeing your blog at that time when you were doing it there was a photo of you in a lecture theater or something like that. And with your shake like your elemental diet and talking about how everyone was giving you funny looks because they could smell this gross stuff that you were drinking.

[11:20] KATIE: Oh yeah. My husband loved it being referred to as the fart shake because it smelled like just rotten eggs and terrible smell.

[11:29] REBECCA: Wow, I didn’t realize… I mean I’ve haven’t done the elemental diet and I did try a sample of the new, it seems vastly improved flavored elemental at the SIBO symposium in Portland this year. But I haven’t tried the one that you did and I am glad that I haven’t if it’s really that bad.

[11:49] KATIE: It’s pretty bad. I do not want to sugarcoat it for anybody just wanting to try it. But really, you do get used to it. It becomes normal. You just have this new normal you adjust to and that’s what it is. And the taste I always say is not the hardest part of the elemental. You get past that relatively quickly. You know in the first 4 or 5 days, you don’t even struggle. You just chug those bad boys.

[12:16] REBECCA: So what was the hardest part? Was it just the physicality of not chewing, not eating food?

KATIE: I think so. You intuitively just want to eat. So the shakes are designed to fill you up and they do. it’s funny, if I started to feel hunger, I would have a shake and you know when you eat a big meal it almost takes a while for that meal to settle in and it takes a while for you to fulfill which is why we are supposed to eat slowly. But when I had two sips of the shake it would hit my system so quickly I would immediately start feeling satisfied.

[12:50] REBECCA: Wow, that’s interesting

KATIE: Yeah it was very odd. And I became so accustomed to it that even after I finished the 23 days I carved the shake. Like I had cravings for it.

[13:02] REBECCA: Wow. And can you imagine that you would have ever felt like that when you first took that very first sip of that disgusting tasting formula.

[13:11] KATIE: never. I wrote on my blog but I remember waking up the first morning and I was almost like stupidly excited to try it. Like I was almost a little gitty like OK I am going to do this new diet and this is going to work and I remember taking my first sip and just be like, “OH my God. What have I done? This is so disgusting! You stupid stupid girl.”

[13:34] REBECCA: Yeah I could imagine. And how did you manage, because there… I know there’s a lot of people thinking should I do the elemental diet? Maybe that is the next step they have tried a round or several rounds of antibiotics, have perhaps tried some herbs as well and nothing is working and they are now looking down the barrel of the elemental diet. How did you manage life whilst dealing with having to not eat and drink this solution instead?

[14:01] KATIE: It’s funny. I bet my answer would be different if we were talking at that time versus now. You know it’s like repression theory. You press the bad parts. So looking bad, it seems like it wasn’t that bad. It was fun. It went relatively quickly. I mean I worked. I ran. I did my normal things. But of course in the middle of it, it was a lot harder than that. So my memory of it is probably quite fuzzy. But I do notice that I seem to have an easier time than a lot of other people do. And I am not sure why that is. Maybe that is formula based. I have done little mini elementals with like Absorb Plus and I do feel much hungrier on that solution. So there is something about the makeup of that elemental that doesn’t fill me up the same way. And when you are hungry you are grumpy. And you are tired and you are lethargic. So it really does affect your life.

But since I never felt super hungry even though I wanted to eat, smell has really bothered me. I wasn’t super grumpy. And I did take the exercising down significantly while I was on the diet. But I still did it. I still ran every other day. I still lifted weights. I worked full time. I slept great. That was one of the added benefits as a person that struggles with sleeping issues. I was out cold by 9:30 or 10 every night which is very rare for me.

So I did not struggle as hard as some others that I have seen. Some others have terrible stomach pain. They have terrible die off symptoms. I had no die off symptoms. I think I had maybe a slight headache the first few days and that was it. But it was very mild. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, I have no die off symptoms. Nothing is dying. Like something is wrong. This isn’t working.” But it ultimately did work. So I was just one of those strange people I guess that didn’t experience those things.

[16:03] REBECCA: I mean that’s great that you didn’t deal with die off because some people can be horrendously unwell with their die off symptoms. I’ve got die off for probably about a week, a week and a half and I felt like I was coming down with the flu. I felt achy and like my fingers hurt like every joint in my body hurt. I was really foul mooded and just pretty cross and angry with the world and my stomach and my digestive system was just in a horrible stage. And I was thinking I am worse than I was before I started this stupid program. Like how am I getting better? This is not better? This is worst. And my die off symptoms went that bad in comparison to others. So Hallelujah for you not having to deal with horrible die off.

[16:54] KATIE: Yeah I was lucky. I don’t know why that is. I still don’t really know because so many people seem to report die off symptoms. I mean I did have some moments were I was tired. That happened. You know low energy. Or I always try to tell people of they are going to do the elemental to make sure to drink enough shakes. I think some people try not to for some reason. So one thing I did was if I was even slightly hungry, I would make myself a shake because that really staved off getting to that point where you get really grumpy and really feeling really lethargic and hungry. Hangry as they call it.

[17:37] REBECCA: I remember Dr. Allison Siebecker at the SIBO symposium talking about one of the practitioners there raised the question of what do you do with your patients who lose excessive amounts of weight when they are doing the elemental diet? And I remember Dr. Siebecker saying, “If it’s done correctly, you won’t lose significant amounts of weight because you actually get all of the nutrients you need. What generally happens though is that people avoid drinking the shakes so they are basically going into starvation and that is why they are losing a lot of weight.

How were the scales for you after three weeks of the elemental? Like did you notice a difference in your weight? Was their much of a drop or did you stay about the same?

[18:22] KATIE: It wasn’t too bad. I do tend to agree with what she said. And I think that… sometimes I think that’s why people experience such rough symptoms with the elemental. They are just not eating who quote on quote, “eating enough.” So I lost about 6 pounds total which is really isn’t much and I was quite small. So that was a little bit of a concern but my doctor assured me, “I have seen people do this as soon as you start eating again you are going to get it back and that’s exactly what happened.” So I did lose 6 pounds but I did not need to lose. I would say within 3 weeks it had come right back on. So that wasn’t such a concern for me and I tried to ease people’s fears.

[19:05] REBECCA: Wonderful! You got through the elemental diet and you haven’t lost too much weight and you have been able to somehow bare the taste of the shakes. What happened then with your SIBO and your symptoms? How did you feel at the end of it?

[19:21] KATIE: I felt pretty great. In fact I did the two extra days because I was feeling so good and I had enough shakes to keep going. So I did a breath test and then continued on for a couple of days, got the negative test back through a little mini party in my doctor’s office. I kissed her on the lips actually. And then slowly introduced food back in starting with broth and chicken and like moist meats like turkey. And then pureed vegetables and things like that. And then I had decided while I was on the elemental, I had done lots of research to completely abandon SCD and low FODMAP. It was not working for me at all. It made me feel angry and deprived. So I had learned of the fast track diet from a friend and decided that’s what I was going to go. Immediately started on the fast track diet after the elemental.

I still had some issue. The bloating never went away. Through the elemental it never went like completely. It did lessen. It was smaller but it never completely went away. So that worried me as well during the elemental because I thought, “Why am I still bloated? I mean there is clearly still something making me distended.” So, that persisted unfortunately. But my digestion symptoms, as soon as I started eating again my stools were better, no more diarrhea, no more stomach pain. I remember eating out for the first time like two weeks after the elemental and I just feeling like a queen. So I really felt quite good afterward. But that was super short lived because I had other issues that kind of came to life of course after all the work.

[21:24] REBECCA: And so probably it’s a good time to then talk about well then what happened with your health. You have been through quite a journey?

[21:32] KATIE: Well about three weeks after the elemental I started getting this crazy burning annoying feeling in my stomach that would happen about three hours after I ate, no matter what I ate. It was seriously intense stomach pain. So intense that several nights it kep me all night long. I just did not sleep at all and I was convinced I was riddled with ulcers because of the burning and annoying sensation. So I quickly got an endoscopy and it was found that I had H. pylori. And I want to mention this because I say this so much in the forum.

I had gotten tested for H. pylori several times using two separate stool tests and a blood test and they all came back negative. But my naturopath God bless her because she is so wonderful, was convinced that that was the problem and that’s why she ordered the endoscopy. So she had a hunch and she was right. So a lot of people I think get like this very basic blood test or some stool tests and think, “I don’t have H. pylori.” And they rule it out. But those tests aren’t entirely accurate. So it may be important to keep searching if you have similar symptoms.

[22:45] REBECCA: And can you talk about what H. Pylori is for anyone that has never heard of it?

[22:51] KATIE: I had certainly never heard of it. I was like I have another illness again that I have never heard of. So it is this crazy little bacterial infection and its pylori bacterium. That’s what it stands for. Oh sorry Helicobacter pylori bacterium and it causes different symptoms in different people. Some people can carry it and not notice any symptoms at all and have it in there system for years. And some people really react. H. Pylori is usually really connected to stomach ulcers and it usually affects the small intestine and like the upper small intestine, the intestinal lining. And if left untreated it can lead to things like I said ulcers and things like stomach cancer. So it often manifests itself as severe heart burn, GERD, LPR, and stomach pain and like I described like the….it’s almost felt like there is this little monster in my belly like eating my stomach from the inside out.

It is contagious. So I did get it from someone. And it does tend to run in families. You can be susceptible to it and actually for my family members that had it. So it’s possible I had this for a really long time and never knew it. It was one of the causes of SIBO or it’s possible                 that I picked it up somewhere. And it’s not air born bacteria that you can catch. It’s usually from food, water, or things like utensils or sharing water, sharing food. Things like that. Saliva and bodily fluids. Is that an efficient explanation?

[24:39] REBECCA: I think that’s great and I think that will help anyone who is listening. This is just two chicks that have experienced SIBO having a chat. But I think it is really interesting for people that perhaps still they might be getting negative breath tests for SIBO but they are still having digestive pains and discomfort. And other symptoms that are so commonly linked to SIBO but it might be another condition.

[25:05] KATIE: absolutely. And H. Pylori is very closely linked to SIBO. We have seen that over and over.

[26:10] REBECCA: yeah. So what was the treatment then for H. Pylori?

KATIE:    I went on something called triple therapy which is a triple dose of antibiotics. There are a couple of options you can treat naturally with herbal antibiotics or you can treat with something called quadruple therapy which is actually tripe therapy but with peptobismal because it’s been found that pylori really reacts bismuth. So I was put on triple therapy and I was petrified that by blasting my body with antibiotics I was going to bring SIBO right back after I just worked so hard with the elemental to get rid of it. But my naturopath and I sort of came up with the plan to try and prevent that from happening and luckily it worked. And that pan included fresh cabbage juice everyday which is supposed to really good for H. pylori. So with supplemental you don’t want to treat slowly with cabbage juice but pylori does not like cabbage juice. So it can help attach the pylori and weaken it. But it is the most God-awful thing you can ever drink. It’s even worse than the elemental shakes. I swear it’s what evil tastes like. It is so disgusting.

[26:24] REBECCA: How do you make fresh cabbage juice? I have never heard of it?

KATIE: Yeah I would not blame you. I just have a juicer and I would just buy a head of cabbage. You know, organic cabbage and chop it up, throw it in there and I was supposed to drink about a fourth to a half a cup a day and it had to be fresh. So did that pretty much every morning. And then we also, to help stave off SIBO coming back, we did daily probiotic enemas which are super fun. And so you know trying to repopulate the large intestine anyway with good bacteria. And then I also took other herbals with the antibiotics to help prevent bacteria build up from it coming back and then after completing the triple therapy. I tested again for SIBO and it was still negative. In fact, the numbers were even lower the second time. so I was super relieved.

[27:20] REBECCA: that’s great! What a relief. And I think that fear around antibiotic use and SIBO reoccurrence is so common. I know I feel exactly the same way where I am now like, “No, don’t ever give me antibiotics ever again because I don’t want SIBO back!” and I said in the Facebook forum that we will talk more about in a little bit as well. It’s just that people have this, we almost become uber paranoid about never ever wanting to take antibiotics again because we don’t want SIBO back. We have suffered long enough.

So almost immediately after going through all of the treatment for SIBO, you then go through a new treatment, you get your negative SIBO back which mush have been a great relief. How are your symptoms then at that point had the bloating and that gnarring feeling gone away?

[28:18] KATIE: the gnarring feeling finally went away when I was… that was so much worse than any SIBO symptom I had. But it’s all I cared about. .i remember thinking about this is so much worse. I was so much more sick with H. pylori when it really took hold of my body. So I was so so grateful that that gnarring feeling was gone and I could sleep. I was still quite bloated that that still persisted and because of the antibiotic use, it took a while for my digestion to calm down but it did. But I was having some other strange symptoms that we couldn’t really explain. I was having frequent urination. Sometimes getting up as much as like 6 or 7 times a night to go to the bathroom and I had lower back pain that was increasingly getting worse. And I had stopped menstruating. I haven’t had a period in over I think it was at that point 14 or 15 months.

[29:25] REBECCA: Wow that’s a while. That’s your body saying, “Hey I am not going so well here!”

KATIE: yes, something is wrong and it was interesting because before this whole SIBO journey I had gone to several gynecologists and had normal pap smears. I had told them, something is going on. I mean I normally do skip periods. I had a history of PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome which causes missed periods. But it had never gone this long before and it was so funny . I was very dismissed by, I think it was 3 gynecologists. Didn’t even send me in for an ultrasound. Nothing. They just assumed it was PCOS related and, “Oh you are young, you are healthy, you are fine.”

So I got a lot of dismissals. But because of these extra symptoms. I went back to my naturopath and said, “something else is happening. And that’s when she said, “You know these are kind of consistent with some gynecological issues. So why don’t we send you for an ultra sound.” And I thought, “Here we go, one more thing.” So I went in for an ultrasound and it was your standard pelvic ultrasound and then a transvaginal ultrasound and I remember the technician making so many noises like “hmmm, ohhh, hmmm.” That I knew they found something. She couldn’t tell me in the moment but she definitely gave it away.

And the next day, I got results and they had found quite a large                tumor on one of my ovaries. So I was then referred to a gynecologist/oncologist and (sorry my cat just jumped off me.) Surprise! She wants to be on the podcast too.

[31:15] REBECCA: I’m here. Mum pay attention to me. Stop talking to that other person and play with me. I am a pussy cat. I need attention now. AS you can tell I am clearly a cat person. I speak cat.

[31:35] KATIE: yeah so he took a look and said, “Oh we definitely need to take this out.” So we arranged for surgery to have my let ovary and the tumor removed. And at this point there was no way to biopsy it. So cancer wasn’t even a concern on my mind. It really wasn’t. I really just thought, “Oh I have this history of PCOS. They are just going to remove this weird mass and everything is going to be fine.” I wasn’t remotely worried. And they took it out. It was laparoscopic. The surgery was easy piecy. I mean my recovery was a breeze. And that was my first experience with surgery. I have never had like a broken bone.

So it wasn’t until a week later when they got the biopsy that they found that it indeed was ovarian cancer and the tumor was huge. It was the size of a deflated football, an American football. So that was what was causing so much of the bloating and it was pushing on my bladder which caused the frequent urination and it was pushing on my spin which was causing the back pain. So as soon as they took that out, the back pain was completely gone, my bloating was significantly decreased. I mean it was like somebody just deflated a balloon in my stomach. It was very strange. And obviously dealing with the cancer diagnosis isn’t what I thought I was going in for. But it was almost a relief to know that they caught it early. We were able to get it out and that maybe I was sort of on this path to actual healing now. Because it kind of felt like, “Ok this is the big momma diagnosis.” It’s not going to continue after this. This is it. So yeah…

[33:22] REBECCA: the big C, the big cancer fear is so real especially for those of us that have had chronic illness, chronic conditions. SIBO so rarely in isolation. And there is such a big correlation particularly with woman and reproductive disorders. I’ve got endometriosis and that’s really common. Polycystic ovaries, also really common. And then when you feel this pain constantly, it’s so natural I think to think, “am I going to get cancer? DO I have cancer?” I am so glad to hear that you kept playing your own private investigator that you didn’t just sit back and let those other specialists, these gynecologists who said, “No, your fine.” And dismissed you because you’d have to think what the alternative is if you hadn’t kept pushing and what a wonderful naturopath that sounds like you have because she sounds not dissimilar to my own whereby she just sounds like she is there with you. She is part of your team. She is willing to keep investigating. So thank God for her.

So you have been through the absolute ringer with your health, was that the end of your health journey or has there been more since dealing with ovarian cancer?

[34:49] KATIE: It wasn’t the end. I mean after the diagnosis and surgery, we did want to keep going with treatment. So I had the option of chemo but type of chemo… the type of cancer I had was called granulosa cell and it’s quite rare. It’s less than 3% of the population. So because of that there is only really one standard chemo they use for it and it is quite toxic. I mean it’s one of the harshest chemos you can take and since I was such an early stage I really did not want to blast my body with that kind of poison and I really respect anybody’s decision to take any more or not but this was just mine at that point. And because of this particular cancer, there had been lots of studies surrounding high dose vitamin C treatments for granulosa cell having really good results, even better than chemo.

So because of that my MD and I decided to do what they call natural chemo which is high dose vitamin C about 50 grams and it’s just like a chemo but it’s a drip process. So you go to the doctor and you snuggle up in a blanket and they give you this freezy cold drip in your arm for a few hours and you do that twice a week. So I did that for about 24 weeks. So that was just sort of an extra thing we wanted to do to combat what was happening in my body and help kill any remaining cancer cells that they weren’t able to extract from the surgery.

[36:26] REBECCA: Wow

KATIE: And then after that, more things happened. We decided to do genetic testing because of some of my issues and a whole mess of stuff came up there. It was like this little road map to all my health problems. It was really fascinating. It showed that I was sort of destined to have ovarian cancer based on my genetic makeup which is quite interesting and it showed that I had a predisposition to things like depression which is rampant in my family. To gut disorders which is also a real problem in my family. And we started to address some of those mutations as much as we could mutations like MTHFR, CBS up regulation, malmutations. This may not mean much to some of you but to some of you it will. So we started address those issues and other little things came up. I found out I had fat malabsorption issues. I found out I had hiatal hernia. So really low vitamin B levels. Just super crazy low in magnesium. Even though I took all these things daily I wasn’t absorbing them properly.

So just a lot of other little things have kept popping up that we are dealing with now. I’ve had chronic fevers now for around 4 months and no one really knows why. And I have been tested for everything. So that could be still an inflammation of the gut issue.

[37:55] REBECCA: So like I am interested to know what time frame this has spanned over form that first sort of initial SIBO diagnosis to today. How long has that been?

[38:07] KATIE: The SIBO came not quite two years ago. So it has been roughly two years but a few months under.

[38:22] REBECCA: And I’m interested to know, how has your mindset been through this whole period because it’s been one hell of a journey for you. And I am really interested to know like how you just get up and get on with every day. Like what has been your kind of mechanisms to cope with all of these?

[38:41] KATIE: I am not a naturally positive person. It always cracks me up when people assume that I am based on my blogs. That’s actually feedback I get all the time. “Oh I love how positive you are.” And it makes me laugh because I am actually quite the pessimist. But I do have a sense of humor and I use humor as a coping mechanism. I find it really saves me in relation to health problems. I fi can make fun of it, it just seems smaller somehow. And I think others confuse a sense of humor with optimism or positivity. I often talk with the newly diagnosed about grieving your old lifestyle. I think everyone has to do that a little when faced with any chronic illness condition. And I think it’s perfectly normal. It does affect your social life, your family life, your love life. SIBO is not a sexy illness. Let’s put it that way. There is a period of adjustment and I really believe in allowing yourself to feel your feelings. I am a social worker so of course that’s part of the course. But I truly think there should be space for honesty with our feelings. It’s ok to be a little depressed. It’s ok to be a little angry. It’s ok to feel a little guilty that you are being dramatic or wallowing a little. All of it is ok. Feelings are just feelings. That’s what I always say. They are not good or bad. They are just true and honest and real.

So I always try to give people space to just feel how they feel. Having said that however, I also often think that it can dangerous to set up camp on a dark space. And it can be a recipe for prolonged depression which is of course isn’t going to help your health or your relationships or your self-esteem. So my best advice is usually just to wallow a little. Let yourself feel sad or angry or whatever you may feel and then try your best to find ways to deal and to cope and those ways are going to be personal. This is your new normal and you have to adjust to that new normal and that mindset shift takes some time and that is ok.

I kind of walk a really fine line here especially in the forum because I don’t like to push people into spaces that they are not ready for. Meaning if someone is very depressed about their SIBO, I don’t want to belittle that depression or make them feel silly for it. But there were times when I too found it depressing. So I remember that feeling. However perspective can be a really beautiful thing and a blessing and as a social worker that has worked in things like domestic violence and sexual violence, I know that SIBO is sort of in the greater realm of things. Fairly small and manageable and even in the greater realm of health problems it’s fairly livable situation. But if you are like me and never experienced any health problems before then a SIBO diagnosis can feel like the sky is falling.

I definitely went through depression when I got diagnosed. And like you mentioned before. I really believed SIBO is a symptom of a larger issue. I think that many people that are newly diagnosed find out that they have SIBO and they say, “Yes! And answer! I know what’s wrong now and I can start to treat and get myself better.” But for many of us, not all, but many of us that’s not the case. SIBO is an indication that something is going wrong with your body. It is usually a symptom of the thing instead of the actual thing if that makes sense.

So getting a SIBO diagnosis can be like a first step in the journey and it absolutely wasn’t mine. And as far as coping, I want to be honest with you because I really believe in transparency. I have struggled some in the past with the SIBO group when I got diagnosed with cancer. And I am beyond it now and am actually a little ashamed of it now. But it’s true when I first found out I had cancer I joined a Facebook cancer group for my particular tumor type because as I mentioned it was extremely rare and it was hard to find info about it and it became very interesting to toggle back and forth between that group and the SIBO group.

In the cancer group, there were literally women dying every day. Their posts were about how to make sure their funeral arrangements were arranged so the burden didn’t fall on their children or how to get through the day at work when they are puking from chemo up to 14 times a day because they couldn’t quit work because they needed an insurance to pay for the chemo. And then I would switched to the SIBO group and there would be this dramatic, you know almost borderline suicidal posts about missing chocolate or beer. And I would get angry. And I would slam my computer shut and I would just think, “Wow I just wish I could put those people in the cancer group for just one day. Just like shove perspective down their throat. And don’t get me wrong. I am not proud of these thought or my behavior here. It really wasn’t fair to me at all. Again I want to be honest. And it took me some time to really find empathy with SIBOers again.

I had to put myself back to where I was when I was diagnosed and remember that it was a major lifestyle change. Just because I had coped with it and gotten past that dark space doesn’t mean I didn’t have it myself. So being judgmental of their process was wrong and unfair and not the person I want to be. So now, I can find empathy with both groups and I can see it for what it is in a more balance way. Obviously I believe cancer is more serious. There is no denying that. But again if you never had to deal with health problems before SIBO can be very difficult and unfair and I am glad that I was finally able to work through my feelings of hostility about both. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take on the admin position of that group because it wouldn’t have been ethical for me as a person or even as a social worker.

[44:38] REBECCA: yeah definitely. And I really agree with what you have said about SIBO being a journey and I know like for myself I looked back over the last two years because I am almost at the two year mark of my diagnosis with SIBO as well. And I have changed dramatically form who I was two years ago and I had a whole bunch of other conditions come out and I am currently testing for the ___ mutation as well. So many similarities between you and I Katie. But I remember being that person upon diagnosis going, “I am just going to smash this. I am going to get rid of this this quickly as I can and then I will be find and then I will be perfect and my health is going to be amazing and I am going to be the quickest person ever to have beaten SIBO.” And I wasn’t appreciating that SIBO was just a symptom of my body being disordered and it had just screamed loud and long enough for me to have finally done something about it and now I am peeling of the layer upon layer of onion skins of those onions we can’t eat anymore to figure out what is the cause of my problems. What’s really going on deep down in there to make me present the things like SIBO and endometriosis and hemochromatosis and as you know I do have positive _____ gene mutation testing which my naturopath is convinced I do have it. What’s caused all of these things?

I think that is really the message I hope for anyone listening today gets out of our chat is that SIBO for a lot of people is just the beginning. It’s the tip of the iceberg and you really do need to play private investigator into your own health, take your own health into your hands and find a person or a team of practitioners that are willing to work with you and keep going, keep looking.

[46:43] REBECCA: yeah. How did you manage friends, family, and your husband with all of these conditions and particularly around having to change your diet so dramatically? Because it doesn’t just impact us SIBOers, it impacts our little community, the community of people that we live with and live within. How did you cope with that?

[46:59] KATIE: Well my husband Joe kind of learned along with me. Really he was pretty great actually. He was supportive without being overbearing. He let me try my crazy diets even though I know he had some strong opinions about them. He very intelligently kept those to himself. He hugged me when I was frustrated. He didn’t say a word when our doctor bills came in and took care of me after surgery and eats bland foods with me but he got tired of it too. He got tired of me always talking about my health. You do tend to get a little obsessed at first I think which is a totally normal reaction. And for a while it was all I thought about and that got very burdensome for him. And I finally recognized that and I really do understand it. I have been a care taker for someone else that was ill.

There is something called caretaker’s fatigue where there is only so much empathy you can muster when a person’s world is all about illness. And I recognized he was struggling and I began to readjust and I learned how to stop making my illness my world which ultimately was healthier for me and my relationships. And as for others, my friends don’t still entirely get it but I don’t really expect them to. Once I turned that corner of not allowing the illness to rule me, things really did improve as far as my relationships were concerned.

Even while I’m on the elemental diet I made decisions to go to things like birthday parties at restaurants with my stupid stinky shake while my friends ate and drink. It was hard a little awkward but it did help me to be out with them and I think it helped them to see also what I was dealing with first hand. They saw me get skinny. They saw me drinking these disgusting things.

My sisters were pretty supportive. My oldest sister especially. She has severe ulcerative colitis which is a hugely damaging and painful digestive illness. Far more dangerous than SIBO. But she listened to be whine anyway and was sweet and supportive even though she probably wanted to throw some perspective at me sometimes because her health problems were so much more severe especially at first than mine were. But I think I had been pretty lucky with the support system.

[48:27] REBECCA: that’s wonderful

KATIE: yeah. It does help to have some form of understanding than it is hard for others that they are going to get tired of listening to it. I think having empathy for people in those situations that you can think for yourself that it is hard for me and it is hard for the patient. But it is no fun to be around someone that is complaining all the time or that is whining because they want cheese or beer or whatever it is you are craving. So it can really help to I think keep some sensitivity toward your loved ones in this situation too.

[50:01] REBECCA: Definitely. And it is so hard at that time when you are going through, when you are in the midst of it. You are just new and you just feel like throwing a tantrum going, “Why me? Why is this happening to me? It’s not fair. No one else is dealing with this.” And we can become quite annoying and painful. With my own partner and actually I am kind of trying to convince him to do a podcast episode with me so that we can talk about the SIBO journey from the partner’s perspective but he is incredibly private and I still got some work to do to convince him on doing that. But I really think it is important that us SIBOers pause and think about the impact that our condition is having on other people and I know I did not think about my partner at all during the early days of my SIBO and I would have been a much pain in the back side because I was just 100% focused on me. I couldn’t look outside. I couldn’t look external to my internal gut problems and I must have been a nightmare and now have perspective and I actually have apologized to him and said, “I am sorry I must have been such a bitch to live with and thank you for standing by me.”

Sometimes we need a bit of a slap just to wake. It doesn’t have to be all about us but it is hard to get there and sometimes it takes some time to get there.

[51:32] KATIE: Absolutely! And I think it was helpful for me to remember feeling that way about someone else. I took care of my mother when she was very ill and I knew her illness wasn’t her fault. I knew she really was sick it felt terrible and so I had these very conflicting feelings of almost resenting her for being sick but also feeling very sorry for her and very sad about her sickness. And it was quite confusing in my own head and I remember thinking that is how my husband is feeling. He knows I am not faking this. He does feel bad for me. He feels sympathetic but he is frustrated too.

[52:08] REBECCA: definitely! So what does your sort of average day look like now? Are you through the worst of it? Are you still treating any of these conditions? I would love to know where you are at today?

[52:21] KATIE: that has changed a little over the last week actually. I was on a daily basis feeling pretty good. I know I likely would never be where I used to be and that is ok. Even with SIBO gone, I am really prone to some digestive distress. You know some bloating even though it’s not anywhere where it used to be. So I would have some bloating on occasion. Occasionally some lose stools or some fatigue issues but I stick to the fast track diet for the most part. But I am able to cheat a few times a week with almost whatever I want without too much trouble. However, as you saw I am sure I just travelled to Guam. I love traveling more than anything and got food poisoning.

And we with SIBO are very susceptible to food poisoning. And I really tried to do everything I could to stave it off because I did know it was a possibility but it really got me and I fear it’s really set me back quite a bit. It really did a number on my system and ever since I have come home, I have not been the same. And I don’t know the extent of it yet. I haven’t had a test. I am going to do some stool test and make sure it is not a parasite or amoeba and just sort of waiting just to see if my system calms down. But I am having some symptoms again. So it’s a possible to cause relapse. It’s possible everything will die down and I will be ok but just sort of I am in limbo a little bit with it right now.

[53:47] REBECCA: I am and avid traveler like you are and one of the things that i have been really conscious about, I haven’t… well I went to Europe as soon as I got my all clear diagnosis with SIBO and a bit like you when I was in France. I eat and drink. I drank wine and I ate bread and I had croissants and I literally had a glutton gorj but I was able to survive it. but I haven’t left Australia since then and one of my kind of quiet little sort of… in the back of my mind fears are I get food poisoning almost every time I leave Australia because my gut is so susceptible to it and I don’t want that to happen. But I am not going to stop traveling. So I am traveling to Thailand and Vietnam over Christmas and New Years and so I am just going to have to work on what do I do to help prevent what I can and if I get something ok at least I know what it is, I know what I can do and I will just deal with it at that time.

I like the comments that you made on the Facebook group recently around you are not going to let SIBO, a disordered digestive system stop you living your life and that you love to travel and I think that it is really important that we do the things we love because it’s life. We should live how we want to live and just manage the conditions as we need to.

So I hope you had a great time in Guam even though it gave you some food poisoning.

[55:20] KATIE: I did. These two days were not so fun but those two days were wonderful. We are already planning a trip in November to New Zealand. So we are still on that train.

[55:30] REBECCA: Yeah great! And you are so close to Australia. You should just pop over. Come say Hi.

KATIE: I know.

REBECCA: there is a term that you used which I love and its toxic positivity. Can you tell me a little bit about what you mean by toxic positivity.

[55:48] KATIE: Yes and I am sort of obsessed with this concept. And I have done a lot of research around it. I even did a formal research project on the concept in relation to women           and the sort of pressures of perfectionism that women have in combination with toxic positivity. But it is a term coined by a woman named Barbara Erinwright. She is a feminist sociologist and it is about this particularly American attitude. It’s touted as more than just a temperament here in the states. It’s actually treated as a positive thinking as the key to success and prosperity and health and happiness. And it can come from numerous sources.

It comes from churches in relation to how your sunny demeanor and ultimately positive outlook on your blessings will prosper you, you know in this life and the afterlife. And it even comes from the medical profession that often shoves positive thinking down the throats of patients telling them that positive thinking will help heal them and distress them. And it’s especially something perpetuated and prescribed to by women because I think the pressure for women to be perfect is huge.

We are supposed to be the perfect spouse, the perfect mother, the perfect sister all while looking eternally thin and beautiful and ageless and healthy. And we are not supposed to be too aggressive because we are labeled a bitch. We are not supposed to be too mousy we are a pushover. And you know we are not supposed to be too sexual but we are not supposed to be too prudish and we are not supposed to be emotional because we will be seen as pre-menstrual or overly dramatic. But we are also supposed to be simultaneously ever nurturing which of course requires emotions.

So the list of expectations and contradictions for women is sort of endless. So this idea of positivity or the glossing over of emotions to put on a show of happiness for others is especially I think a problem for women and for Americans. Maybe us westerners in general. And because of the extra pressures on women to strive for perfection nearly on every aspect of our lives, I think we have a right to be angry. You know we have a right to feel stifled and trapped in these expectations that are unfair and ridiculous and we have a right to feel bad about ourselves because of what we are taught that women have to be. And I think this notion of positivity can stifle emotions leaving us feeling frustrated or lonely. I am not saying life isn’t full of blessings or that there is absolutely no merit to positivity. I do believe in the power of honest perspective as I mentioned earlier. But I think we as a society take it way too far.

Barbara has a lovely book called Brightsided which talks about toxic positivity in relation to her cancer diagnosis which is something I saw and experienced firsthand with my own cancer and my mother’s. people don’t know what to say so they think the silver lining scenarios, “At least you are losing weight.” Or “At least you are not losing your hair              .” and it becomes very stifling and makes the patient feel as if they are not allowed to feel upset or most especially they are not allowed to feel scared. It can also cause feelings of failure meaning, so many can shove the idea of positivity on to you that they convince you you might not be able to heal yourself. But if you are unsuccessful, it sort of places this burden of failure and guilt on you, on the patient. So they now have to deal with the cancer diagnosis and all of the scary things that cancer diagnosis entails. And they also have to deal with the guilt of not being able to heal themselves with this mystic power of positivity.

I also think Americans often look at sadness and anger with disdain. We think these are “bad feelings.” But they are just feelings. They are normal and human and something we all feel and I feel like it’s something that should all be allowed. And I would argue, it is important to allowed yourself to feel through feelings because only then can you really work through them and come out healthier on the other side. So I view toxic positivity a sort of a mask. It is something that helps others feel more comfortable. And I often think of it as sort of a luxury for privileged people and a way to mask what someone is actually feeling inside. So that was very long we did… was that ok?

[1:00:32] REBECCA: That’s great and that is so interesting and so valid and it really goes back to what you were saying earlier in our conversation today were it is ok to feel grief and it is ok to feel anger and annoyed and all the negative emotions that come with the illness. You don’t want to stay there forever but it’s fine to feel those things and I look at myself and I think, If I hadn’t felt my negative emotions, I perhaps wouldn’t have been able to move forward because it was only by feeling those things that I was then able to start addressing some aspects in my life that I needed to change and they weren’t positive aspects. But I needed to feel pretty down about some things to move forward.

[1:01:20] KATIE: Absolutely. Just human.

REBECCA: It is totally. We have talk on and off about the SIBO discussion support Facebook group of which you are an administrator and it’s a Facebook group that stumbled across right in the early days of my diagnosis with SIBO and it has definitely been a handy platform for me to ask lots of questions and now through the worst of my SIBO treatment I am now able to help others. I would love for you to talk a little bit about the group how people can find it and what its purpose is.

[1:01:57] KATIE: Sure. So you can find it by searching in the Facebook tool bar – SIBO discussion/support group. It’s that simple. That is the title. There are currently a little over 12000 members. So it’s quite a large group which can sometimes be a little difficult because it moves so quickly but there are so much information to be found on this page. Really some brilliant people. And we try to keep it a support group. We really try to make sure members are being supported. I have great partners and the other two admin so that helps tremendously and my ultimate pet peeve of the group is when members tell other members what to do. You know how to eat, how to treat their illness, how to feel the sort of should people if you will. As in you should take “Blank.”

So one of our only roles is not to boss others around and not to give medical advice. So we just want to protect our members autonomy and the right to treat their bodies how they feel is right. So we can really do try to keep it kind and a place that is safe to express yourself if you are feeling depressed, express yourself if you are feeling excited because you had a perfect poop that morning or whatever it is. You could celebrate it in the SIBO group.

It was developed by and admin called Kenny King who is still an admin. And I believe it was (I hope I get this right), I believe it was started after the very first SIBO symposium where it was discussed that there was really nowhere to go for help or support. And at that point doctors knew so little about SIBO. And so I really commend Kenny for creating this community that instills knowledge and support to so many others when you really can’t find it elsewhere.

[1:03:51] REBECCA: And it is a great place to find support and like you say, share your highs and your lows with people that know exactly what you are going through which you often don’t have in your own personal community or friends and family because often they have no idea what SIBO is all about and what it actually feels like. So it’s been a great support for me over the last two years and I know it’s a great support for others. I’ve recommended it too other people that have been newly diagnosed and they have found that very useful.

[1:04:25] KATIE: And you can dip in, dip out as much as you need to. So it’s there if you need it. If you don’t need it, you don’t have to be in it.

[1:04:34] REBECCA: It’s been wonderful chatting with you today Katie and you have just given such a great insight and perspective in terms of the journey of the person with SIBO. You’ve got a wonderful blog. I love your blog. It’s really great reading. Where is it and how can people find it? And how can people connect with you if they would like to?

[1:04:53] KATIE: yeah, the best way because the actual blog address is quite long, is to just Google the title which is “the Ballad of Joe and Katie” and it will come right up. You know I started the blog as something like sort of a travel lifestyle blog. We were living abroad at that time. But I really find it therapeutic to be very open about my illnesses. So I do talk about health but I also talk about my life and travel and other things. But the Ballad of Joe and Katie should come right up. It sorely needs to be updated though. I have this bad habit of only writing when I feel inspired which is I haven’t been in a while. So I will try to get another post up there for you guys. Also a lot of people find the blog and they try to add me on Facebook which I mean no disrespect to anyone and I feel really flattered that you feel like you know me through the blog and you want to connect with me which is wonderful but I do try to keep my Facebook fairly private. But you absolutely follow me on Instagram where I post everything from silly cat videos to recipes for SIBO. And you can find me under my user name there @KATIEM as in MARIE Caldwell. So KATIE M. CALDWELL. Or on Snapchat were I even get more honest. Snapchat is good for that because it’s temporary. So it just shows a little glimpses everyday of your daily life. And my name there is Katie Marie and then CQLD. And there I just talk about my life and food and travels and my cat and whatever.

[1:06:30] REBECCA: and I put all those links in the show notes below so that people can just easily find them and click on them and go and add you. Now I would love to know if you’ve got any advice for somebody with SIBO and what that would be?

[1:06:40] KATIE: Oh sure. I think I have covered a lot of it. I would say, I know it’s difficult in the beginning but try your best to take in and stride. Allow yourself to agree with the changes in your life but again try not to live in that space. Try not to let it take over your whole world. Do things to bring yourself perspective. One thing I often recommend is maybe to volunteer with groups that need your help and they are struggling. For example that really helps me with that perspective piece because we are humans and humans are egocentric. We are self-absorbed species. It’s just going to happen. But there are things that we can do to sort of control that aspect. And try not to let it isolate you from friends and family too much. And to keep in mind to have compassion for those that might get a little frustrated and fed up with you. And if all possible, as we both mentioned on this podcast, try your best to find a god practitioner. Someone that will actually listen to you.

Women are notoriously dismissed by doctors and belittled and made us feel like it’s all in our heads. This is not my opinion. There is a ton of research to back up that statement. So be aggressive and be vigilant. We have I think this weird power dynamic with doctors were we think they are the authorities but no, we are the authorities on our bodies. We live in them and doctors work for us. So if you expect one is not listening to you, either try and speak up and address it or just move one because you really deserve to be heard. And lastly I guess this may sound a little cheesier and silly but try to get outside. There is just something truly healing about nature. Even if you are feeling terrible and all you can manage is to sit under a tree and read a book or a little walk. I feel like trying to get some nature in your world can really just help you feel more grounded and more grateful.

[1:08:59] REBECCA: You never feel worst after getting some fresh air. So getting outside is just so therapeutic I think.

Katie it has been such a joy to have on the podcast and listening to your story as your own journey of health and discovery around your own conditions and living through them and I know that that will help others on their own journey. It has been a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks so much for joining us on the healthy gut podcast today.

[1:09:27] KATIE: thank you for having me. I enjoyed it and yeah I really appreciate what you are trying to do and getting some stuff out to the community that we sorely need.

REBECCA: yeah well my purpose is funny. As hellish as my initial SIBO diagnosis seemed in the very early days, now I feel like I have uncovered the purpose as to why I was out in this planet. And that is to help others through their journey with SIBO and broader health issues. And to really make some noise so that we are heard and we are not keep tin the dark around these often kind painful and debilitating conditions and we can become our own advocates for our own better health.

So I just love what I do now and having the opportunity to connect with people just like yourself to share stories, it’s just an absolute honor and I feel very privileged to be able to do that these days. As weird as it is, thanks SIBO for coming into my world. None of these would have happened without it.

[1:10:39] KATIE: never thought you would be thanking SIBO didn’t you?

REBECCA: But’s it’s funny I now have people in my life that I would never have met if it wasn’t for SIBO. So I am actually thankful for SIBO because it has changed my life and for the better and even though I am so much more aware of medical conditions that I now have, I have a whole gamut of medical conditions that I was blissfully ignorant about before. I feel so much better before. I say it as a positive… I am not dwelling on the negatives of what SIBO has done for me. I could. I could beat my fists against wall every day and think it is not fair but now I decide to go with what life has dealt with me and make the most of it.

[1:11:30] KATIE: I am so glad you have that perspective and for those of you that don’t have that perspective it’s ok. You absolutely don’t have to be there.

REBECCA: And I definitely wasn’t two years ago. I was feeling pretty glum. It’s the journey. It’s that journey that you go on. It’s amazing. Like you said earlier, the perspective that you get as you progress through your journey and where you… I would never have thought that I would be a podcast host talking about my own health and others two years ago. So life is funny.

So thanks again and we really enjoyed having you on the show.

KATIE: thank you so much.

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