One of the most heartbreaking things in my line of work is hearing the the frustration, desperation and eventual resignedness from people whose lives are being turned upside down because of their GI dysfunction. The inability to work, travel like they used to love, spend time with grandchildren and other loved ones - all because their GI symptoms are so severe that they are unable to function as they once could.
After hearing these stories over and over again, I've found some common threads between people so deeply struggling with these issues and have compiled them here for you. Do you see yourself in one (or all?) of these 5 missteps?
Not realizing that what you're experiencing isn't normal - bathroom habits aren't exactly a dinnertime conversation - because we don't often share our habits with others, we may not even realize that being uncomfortable or having urgency, cramping, or chronic constipation isn't something that everyone goes through.
Doctors running diagnostic tests and all results are "normal" despite your symptoms - modern medicine saves lives. There is no denying that; however, mainstream healthcare is more of "sick care" vs. care that supports optimal living. Diagnostic tests are looking for known diseases. Unfortunately, we don't understand or have tests for every single disease that exists - especially chronic issues. And what you are experiencing may not be a disease, but more of a case of dysfunction. If that is the case, a diagnostic test is not going to shed much light on anything. It is an important step to rule diseases out, but if results return as "normal", that doesn't mean you are healthy or that your gut is functioning as it should.
Not knowing where to look for answers - this is a tough one. Many doctors don't receive much (or any) nutrition education while in medical school, and functional medicine practitioners often operate outside of the insurance model - making it difficult to find the right person to turn to for help. Here are a few ideas:
If your symptoms are caused by dysfunction, a functional medicine/nutrition practitioner is very likely a great place to turn to. Try searching for a functional nutrition dietitian or doctor in your area to start.
Make sure you are seeing someone who has received training from an accredited university or institution. Did you know that technically anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist"? It is not a regulated title, meaning there is no standard to the title.
Following random advice on the internet in an effort to find relief - whatever you do, don't just turn to Internet forums, bloggers, or Facebook groups for help beyond basic suggestions. Uninformed advice can actually cause more harm than good. If you're struggling with chronic symptoms, it's best to turn to a professional for help.
Giving up - This happens a lot, and understandably so. People feel like they've asked their doctor for help and gotten nowhere; or the doctor has tried a couple of medications and the patient hasn't gotten relief...and they are left with nowhere else to turn. Be your own advocate - keep seeking answers.
The good news is - yes, there is most DEFINITELY a chance for a happy ending for you! Functional medicine and nutrition practitioners look deeply at how the body functions under optimal conditions, and then takes a close look at our clients' situations to understand HOW and WHY things have gone wrong. Oftentimes, our clients are able to live vibrantly again in just a few short months! Don't give up - stay the course, and seek out help from someone who is experienced in resolving chronic GI issues. Imagine how amazing it would feel to be one of those who is able to gain freedom from their GI symptoms - it is completely possible for you!