Digestion Woes - I, Too, Suffered For Years
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
One of my biggest practice focuses is digestive health and for a few reasons - it is one of our most important foundations of health managing nutrient absorption, our immune response, hormone balance and mood. Beyond the physiological reasons, I have personal connection in wanting to help patients feel better.
When I was about 5 years old I suffered from unrelenting stomach aches that were debilitating to the point where I would sense them coming on and have to immediately leave my friend's house or birthday to go home and cry, sitting on the toilet for the better part of an hour. Thankfully the excruciating pain would eventually subside but I would be left feeling exhausted and hollow.
There didn't seem to be any specific food trigger or predictable pattern. I could be happily playing on the monkey bars, at my desk at school or on vacation and bam, there would be another annoying stomach ache. My parents were empathetic but didn't know how to help beyond the usual pharmaceuticals (tums, pepto bismol, tylenol) and hot water bottle which didn't seem to do much.
For a few years I was taken from doctor to doctor and from what I and my parents can remember, the only testing I did was one stool sample and a basic blood test which revealed nothing. One doctor prescribed me a potent opioid (yes, at age 5!) and obviously that numbed my pain wonderfully but thankfully (knowing now how terribly addictive opioids are) my dad had the good sense to not refill the prescription.
The final conclusion the doctors came to was that my debilitating stomach aches must be from stress which was absurd because by all accounts I was a happy child. Essentially I was told "sorry kid, there's nothing we can do, hopefully you grow out of it". Suffice to say, I felt helpless and doomed to suffer forever.
Magically, after 5 years of suffering, when I was about 10, the stomach aches somehow did subside on their own. I had no clue as to why as nothing had changed. I cautiously carried on with life, ever nervous that a small stomach ache would mark the return of constant pain.
All these years later I look back on my little child self and want to cry at the thought that she used her precious shooting star and birthday candle wishes for those aches to go away.
I wished my parents knew to take me to a qualified health care practitioner who would have asked the important questions to determine a root cause - could I have contracted a parasite, was I lactose or gluten intolerant, was my microbiome imbalanced and so forth. If I was taken to a naturopathic doctor I would have been offered a plethora of supports - dietary changes, non-addictive botanicals to soothe the pain, probiotics and most importantly, continued support until my stomach aches resolved.
This experience is what I draw on when I connect with patients who have digestive issues - I can fully empathize with the need to know exactly what is causing their symptoms. I take the time to explain each step along the way in treating the root cause of their digestive symptoms so patients feel empowered and hopeful that they can achieve digestive balance.
If my story sounds similar to yours, I encourage you to reach out or read about my approach in assessing and treating digestive health so you aren't waiting for relief any longer.
In support of your foundational digestive wellness,