My 2016 has been off to a chaotic start. The new job I started in November turned out to be a terrible fit for me, and I resigned earlier this month. I took a work trip in January that introduced me to an epic cold virus and I was coughing and congested for four very long weeks. Oh and the Supreme Court decided to take up a very historic abortion access case, and since I work in the reproductive rights/abortion access field, things have been busy.
Somehow in the midst of this, I realized I needed a new primary care provider, since I have moved and switched insurance companies in the last year. Given the stress of the job and the long illness, my ibs symptoms were not as controlled as they once were and I was struggling with anxiety and depression. I go to One Medical in DC, which is a sort of concierge practice (they charge a membership fee, but in return the care and access to doctors/appointments is so much better than anywhere else I’ve been in the city). And I chose a PCP in the office near my house who has experience working with LGBT patients, because it’s just a lot easier to work with a doctor who isn’t uncomfortable talking about my personal life. (You’d be surprised.)
I made and cancelled two or three appointments because of last-minute work things before I was able to get in to see the doctor. By this time I was pretty sure I needed anti-anxiety medication and/or anti-depressants, and probably an IUD because my period pain has also increased and nothing but muscle relaxers can tame it. I’ve been resistant to to all three of these things because I know that ibs is at the root of my problems, but also that doctors don’t generally know what to do with ibs except throw drugs at it.
And this is where things take an unexpected turn because this PCP happens to be a holistic doctor who specializes in helping people find the nutritional roots of their medical problems. This is the doctor I have been looking for since at least 2011, when my ibs started getting bad. And I found her exactly when I had given up on taking a holistic approach and just wanted someone to whip out a prescription pad and put a bandaid on my problems.
This was the first doctor I’ve worked with to talk about ibs beyond “eat more fiber” and “try meditation.” That’s the good news. The bad news is, I’ve been feeling surprisingly ambivalent about this development. Finding a solution to ibs requires work. And adjusting to new supplements. And possibly making some real exceptions to my 21 years of vegetarianism. Would all this be worth it if I actually got past ibs? Definitely. I’ve had symptoms for so long, I can’t really imagine my life without it.
So far, I’ve started taking a new multivitamin, an intestinal repair supplement, a new probiotic, and a liver support supplement (and to be honest, by “started taking” I mean “inconsistently taken for a couple weeks”). I’ll try an elimination diet after my trip to Jamaica in a few weeks. And hopefully, I’ll be using this space to keep track of my progress.