I want to share my healing journey to put things into perspective. I came to the U.S. as an exchange student from the Czech Republic when I was 18 (now 44). This meant a complete change of diet, habits and lifestyle. I came from a family where we grew our own vegetables and some fruit and made nearly everything from scratch. My movie snack was a bowl of sauerkraut, I walked everywhere, engaged in many sport activities and spent lots of time in nature. I now see that the diet was far from perfect but at least it was homemade.
After about 3 years in the U.S. (I was at college so eating only college food), I developed a severe and painful cystic acne that seemed to be getting worse every time I looked in a mirror. I went to a dermatologist who prescribed a course of antibiotics that did not help so I was prescribed different ones until I ended up taking several different antibiotics for nearly two years! Needless to say, my skin did not improve (probably got even worse), my self-esteem was non-existent and I developed other health problems, specifically digestive issues such as a chronic constipation, bloating, horrific PMS symptoms and hormonal imbalances, fatigue, anxiety and depression.
After 5 years in the U.S, I returned home (Czech Republic) and did a one year cleanse eating mostly plants, some clean protein, no sugar and no dairy. My skin improved tremendously, I felt much healthier and happier. However, the digestive problems lingered, although not as severe. Everything was going well until my dad was diagnosed with a stage 4 liver cancer and passed away a year later. He was only 48 at that time, I was 26. It was a very traumatic time for me and my health started to fall apart again due to the stress I was under.
Fast forward a little, I got relocated to Barcelona, Spain with my work where I met my husband and together we moved back to the U.S. for his job. While waiting for my green card, I got a master degree in psychology and was planning to become a mental health counselor. However, I got pregnant with our first child and decided to postpone my career plans and be a full time mom.
When I was about 5 months pregnant, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. After I gave birth to our daughter, she told me that the cancer spread to her liver. When my baby was 2 months old, I flew back home to the Czech Republic and stayed with my mom for 4 months. She died shortly after, one year after her diagnosis at the age of 59. This was the breaking point for me. I should add that both my parents were heavy smokers, moderate social drinkers and were under a significant amount of stress. I decided to change my career and began to study nutrition and how it affects our health as I felt that this is one thing that most of us can control. I was applying everything I learned to myself and saw a dramatic improvement in my physical and emotional health as well. Although, the gut was still not perfect.
Fast forward a little more, I got pregnant two more times and was pretty much consumed by taking care of our three little kids. About two years ago, I started getting mysterious hives that would come and go but were not serious enough. That changed a few months ago. I would get a very angry, itchy rash after nearly everything I ate. I tried an elimination diet, more gut healing, different kinds of tests, changing things in our environment, etc. but nothing seemed to help. I was afraid to eat anything because I would spend the rest of the day miserable. The hives were much worse at night, I felt like my skin was on fire, burning and itching uncontrollably. I was taking allergy meds which would help a bit but sometime they wouldn’t do a thing.
Thanks to my advanced training in functional nutrition, I finally got properly tested and got some needed answers. I did an adrenal panel and a comprehensive blood chemistry panel which helped me identify nutritional deficiencies and some underlying dysfunction such as impaired methylation (detox) which I’m addressing with dietary interventions and supplements. I also did a GI Map test to see the state of my gut which I suspected was in a bad shape due to being on antibiotics for two years for the skin problems. The GI Map test revealed a very low beneficial bacteria, two strains of pathogenic bacteria overgrowth, parasites, also lots of dysbiotic bacteria, gluten sensitivity, low gut immunity and some gut inflammation. None of these showed on a stool test I did prior to the GI Map test. I also did a food sensitivity test, MRT and tested reactive to many foods I was eating on regular basis like chicken, beef, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, white potato, butternut squash, cantaloupe, corn, tomato, maple, etc. None of these showed on a regular allergy skin and blood test.
I am now on a gut healing protocol, addressing the findings from the GI Map test while avoiding the reactive foods. After four weeks on this protocol, the hives are less frequent and less severe but still not completely gone. I expect that it will take several months to get everything back into balance and heal the gut. The constipation and bloating are pretty much gone which I’m grateful for. I will post an update when I’m done with the protocol and after I retest to see if the bad bacteria got eradicated and if the other markers improved. After that, I will also reintroduce the foods that were eliminated to see if they are still causing reactivity. It is a robust, very difficult healing protocol but I’m hoping I will finally see a resolution.