Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I might be oversharing, but.....

For those that follow me on Facebook, Instagram, twitter or on my blog you probably already heard that April is IBS awareness month.   Again.  And again.  And again.   I might be oversharing for the cause but it is only because it is something I'm passionate about!   I am feeling so much better than I did a few years ago ( ).  I do believe I'm still on my "getting healthy" journey and will be for a long time but I want others to know there is hope too!  I want others to know they are not alone.

I can't remember the last time my doctor asked me about my bowel movements.  I honestly don't even know exactly when things went amiss.  I just know I started realizing that certain foods were not good for my belly and I gave up gluten and dairy and then I've spent the last few years figuring out exactly what else is bothering my belly.  Low Fodmaps were the key.   If you don't know what they are go check out Kate Scarlata's wonderful blog with a huge assortment of food lists and blogs about the topic.   Part of my journey also involves SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and it can't just be gotten rid of with healthy eating and exercising.   You need to bring out the big guns!   Rifaximin is prescribed for people who get a bad case of traveler's diarhhea dierreah  diarrhea (you'd think I'd be able to spell it by now!) and it's $1000 a pop.   I've taken three rounds of it!!!   Thank god my insurance company approved it.   Many don't.

Many doctor's don't believe in SIBO or have never heard of it before.   It's supposedly a new fangled disease.   The new popular diagnosis.  What people in the know actually think is that the majority of people who have been suffering all their lives with IBS actually have an underlying case of SIBO.   They've been told by their doctor's that it's chronic and to just deal with it and this is how they will live out their days.   In one international survey of IBS patients they determined that people with IBS would be willing to give up 25% of their remaining life to gain access to treatments that would provide symptom relief.   That is a scary statistic.   That makes you realize how much people are suffering.  This is not a disease that allows people to stay in bed or have a lazy day on the couch.  This is a debilitating, isolating, awful disease that makes people feel quite literally like SHIT!

And research for IBS and SIBO is completely underfunded.   20% of the global population suffers from IBS and the majority are women.   Yet is one of the most underfunded research out there.   IBS Awareness month and Kate's campaign #IBelieveinyourStory is critical for getting the word out and for educating health professionals and individuals suffering in silence about SIBO and IBS.

I will keep talking about food with random people, I will keep helping people figure out what is wrong with them, and I will keep talking about poop (much to my kid's chagrin!)  It is embarrassing but it is important.   Every person deserves to live their best life.  To feel their healthiest.  To find the tools to help them feel better.   To know they are not alone.  To know we are all in this together!
A sampling of #IBelieveinyourStory pictures and quotes posted on instagram with the #

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hoppy Easter to my Peeps!

I enjoy decorating and getting ready for holidays but truth be told I enjoy it more with the kids around.   They are busier and busier these days as are all tweens and teens and we haven't found time to decorate until today.   And we are hosting.  

It's been a busy week and somehow all my to-do's got piled up into yesterday and today!  All good things but busy just the same.  This week our town Neighbor Brigade collected items for the food pantry and people delivered breads, chocolate bunnies and paper goods to my house so I loaded them up and brought them over!  Our town is so generous anytime we ask for help with anything!  I love coordinating and participating in drives like this around the holidays.  So important to give back and to teach my girls to do the same!!

I got my license today, nothing like leaving it till the last minute as my birthday is tomorrow! While there I confirmed something that I already know about myself.    I truly am an extroverted introvert.   I left for the registry with sopping wet hair and was annoyed I'd be arriving there during the lunch hour rush.  I quickly got in line and filled out my paperwork figuring I'd have a long wait after for my number to be called.  I met a grandpa in line whose birthday was today and he and I were joking and laughing and wishing each other a Happy Birthday.   I was heading straight and hadn't even looked at my number when they announced a number.   I looked to see how long a wait I was going to have and realized they had just called my number.   So much for applying lip gloss and running my fingers through my hair so it didn't look wet.   The first picture she took I looked like I was rolling my eyes at the woman because I moved before it flashed.  She and I were laughing and chatting away.  It was quicker than I could have hoped and then I was done.   On the way to the bathroom after I saw someone who I recognized from town  Didn't even say hello or act like I knew them.   Cringe.   I can be so friendly with people I don't know and never have to see again but god forbid I have to make small talk with someone I sort of know.   Something to work on in my 46th year.  Or to just accept about myself.   I'll have to decide.  

After school I decided it was about time we got in the Easter spirit around here!  Tomorrow is my birthday and Saturday is clean the yard and house and bake and cook day so today was the day.   I convinced my youngest daughter to help since her sisters were off with friends and took her to Starbucks for an afternoon pick me up.     She tried the "Cadbury Cream Egg Frappuccino" that she had read about and had to look up the recipe on line for them to make it for her.   A little sweet she said but she liked it!

Haley helped me collect the Easter decorations from the attic and bring them down and then decorate the egg tree and the house.  It's finally looking like Spring outside with the forsythia and daffodils and hyacinths in bloom and now the inside of our house feels ready for Easter too!  

Simple and easy and such a fun Easter statement.  Branches from outside
with a few plastic eggs with ribbons to hang them.  
Chalk board and bunnies Haley made.  
My favorite Easter bunny picture.  I think we stopped going after this year! Haley was NOT happy!
Some wooden eggs, chicks and a wooden bunny add to the holiday spirit. 
More chalk art by Haley and I and a garland the girls made last year.  
All my chicks come in 3's.  
With a birthday so close to Easter I always got bunnies for my birthday.
This glass one is from my childhood.

Saturday we'll be baking and spreading more flowers around the house and the patio to make it feel even more like spring.  It was a long winter this year even for me!  Try this recipe by Haley for some homemade chocolate and peanut butter deliciousness.   (We can't make them too far in advance or they'll all be gone by the time our guests arrive!)

I've been busy helping Kate with her campaign "#IBelieveinyourStory" to make people aware of the number of individuals with IBS and SIBO during IBS Awareness Month, to give people a chance to share their stories and to raise money for IBS, SIBO and FODMAPS research.   To learn more about the campaign head to Kate's site.  IBS and SIBO are very isolating diseases and this campaign is giving people a voice and an understanding that they are not alone!      This is something I feel passionately about as I was misdiagnosed for years by my doctor until Kate finally suggested I get tested for SIBO.   One of the goals of the campaign is to post inspirational quotes on Instagram.  Below are some of the quotes I have posted.  On a daily basis I meet someone that is "intolerant" to certain foods or suffering with belly issues.   Gut health is so important to our daily satisfaction in life.    Let's hope they come up with a cure soon!


Saturday, April 1, 2017


I was sick for over a decade. I looked healthy but had so many strange symptoms that made me feel broken, like my body was failing me. After my 3rd daughter was born 12 years ago I suffered from post-partum depression but also had a lot of other strange symptoms. I was cold all the time and exhausted and just didn’t feel like myself. My friends Laurie Nealon and Kathy Piche encouraged me to have my thyroid tested. After scheduling the test I found out that thyroid disease runs on both sides of my family. I found out that I had Hashimotos Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune thyroid disease.  

After being on the thyroid medication for over a year I still didn’t feel like myself so I asked my doctor if I could be tested for anything that had to do with depression and exhaustion. It turns out I had stopped absorbing Vitamin B12 and vitamin D from the food I ate. At that time I was misdiagnosed with pernicious anemia (another autoimmune disease which inhibits the body from absorbing B12 from food) and my husband, Rod MacLeod, has given me bi-monthly B12 shots for the past 10 years to counteract the utter exhaustion I felt without those shots. Unfortunately my symptoms persisted and even got worse.  

I gained weight despite training for and running a half marathon at 40, regular exercise and eating healthfully. My joints hurt to the point of tears. Simply doing the laundry became a task that I could barely accomplish without pain. My joint pain seemed to move around my body from my wrists to my ankles.  No one could figure out what was wrong with me. I saw numerous specialists who said I had tendinitis of the achilles tendon, tight heel cords, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, the start of rheumatoid arthritis, permanent neuropathy, but none of these diagnosis held up and none of them explained all of my symptoms.   At the end of each appointment my doctor would simply tell me to keep working on losing weight. I was at my wits end so I tried a functional medicine doctor. My inflammation levels were high. He suggested I give up gluten and dairy and even chicken and my inflammation levels significantly reduced in 6 months.  

But I still didn’t feel quite right.  My hair was falling out to the point that my hairdresser was extremely concerned. At one point I even had a small spot of alopecia, bald as a baby's bottom. I cried. I knew I was sick but now I was losing my hair too? My eyes were extremely dry and I needed to start using eye drops and wearing glasses as my vision was getting extremely blurry from dry eye.  I started having diarrhea on almost a daily basis. Some days I couldn’t leave my house because truthfully I couldn’t leave my bathroom. My white blood count was low and I was exhausted ALL THE TIME. My friend, Kate Scarlata, who is also a registered dietitian, suggested I get tested for SIBO. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? But that’s what really sick patients have. And then I realized, I am really sick! When I was diagnosed with SIBO I took the medicine prescribed to me and started following a low-fodmap diet and FINALLY started feeling relief from ALL my symptoms.  

Just a few letters but they interrupted my life for 10 years.  
I also started doing Beach Body work outs at home thanks to the encouragement of a high school acquaintance, Wendy Schmidt Dartt, who is now someone I consider a friend and is a daily inspiration to me and so many others. I am now on the path to healing. I have lost the weight, my joints don’t hurt and my body is absorbing nutrients again. I don’t feel broken anymore and I am stronger than I have ever been!  

I believe in sharing my story because if my friends hadn’t believed in mine I know I would still be sick because truthfully no matter what I said to my doctor she just wasn't hearing me. #IBelieveinyourStory because I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence or to think they are alone! Share a quote or message of solidarity with the tag #IBelieveinyourStory if you have a friend or loved one who suffers from #IBS or #SIBO for IBS Awareness month in April. I feel fortunate to be working behind the scenes with Kate to get this campaign off the ground. I don’t want other moms, daughters, relatives, volunteers, colleagues and friends like me to feel broken and unheard any more. Please also consider donating to help make a difference in IBS/SIBO/FODMAPS research. "Research funding for IBS & SIBO is almost non-existent. For a condition that impacts 15% of the global population, this needs to change." Visit Kate's site for more information about this campaign or to donate to the cause. 
Together we can make a difference for so many!