fitbeauties · recovery

My Parasite Story – Part 1

Here we are, Dec 31 2014, closing out the year.

As I reflect back on this year and think of all the struggles I’m so grateful for my dedication to my health and for everything I’ve learned along the way. Sometimes we need to really push for answers. You know your body best, don’t forget that!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I suffered for almost a year with an array of strange symptoms that left the doctors confused. By November I had a diagnosis – a Parasite! – but the road to feeling better wasn’t that easy. This blog post is all about that journey.

Last year at this time I was probably in the best shape of my life, not necessarily my leanest but the best shape with the most balance. I was at a place with my physique that I liked with my nutrition and training being sustainable, maintainable and enjoyable.

feeling fit
feeling fit

In January I committed to a photo shoot in March and upped my training intensity a notch and decreased my calories a tad. Nothing drastic as I wanted to maintain the balance I had and wanted to show up at my shoot with a physique that was a realistic representation of something completely attainable. Everything went well until I started suffering from some indigestion. At first I thought it was just from having less food in my belly. Sometimes that can mess around with digestion. I added in some digestive enzymes and kept going. I also noticed I was a little more fatigued and sore but again chalked it up to being in a caloric deficit and higher intensity training. I’d been seeing a naturopath and we decided to add in some adaptogenic herbs to help with the added stress from training and dieting and things seems to even out a bit. March came and went and I did two awesome photo shoots and ended up also competing last-minute just for fun with my photo shoot body. I was really proud to step on stage with my ‘everyday’ body. A body I had obtained without depleting water or taking fat burners or doing endless cardio or any of the other crazy things that I’d done years and years ago (whole other blog post). Anyway all in all I felt pretty good.

Jamie Watling

 

Avenida Garcia Photography

After the photo shoots I started slowing increasing my calories a little and really started to notice a lot of stomach pains. I started suffering with sharp pains, extreme bloating, distention and trapped gas. I also started noticing mental fog, fatigue and major muscle and joint pains.

By April I was suffering with a complete blockage in my upper abdomen. I couldn’t swallow anything. Food and liquid would get stuck in my throat or just under my ribs and wouldn’t go down. Often it would come back up right away or hours later. By this time I had been to my family doctor and had been referred to see a Gastro specialist. While I was waiting for that appointment my Naturopath and I tested for low stomach acid. It turned out that I did have low stomach acid so I started on a protocol for that. It really helped and food started to go down again. I was still suffering with a lot of bloating and distention though and because of that I started an elimination diet to determine if it was any specific foods. That takes about 4 weeks and based on those results I ended up cutting out dairy completely for quite a while.  I would go through spells where something would work and I’d feel better and then it would all come back again.

During this time my training suffered, I couldn’t get through more than 30min at the gym without a stomach attack. Serious pain, bloating and major fatigue. This is coming from a girl who’s been killing it in the gym since probably 1996. It was driving me insane!

To top that off because of the inability to digest my appetite was totally off. I wasn’t hungry but I couldn’t get full. I never felt satisfied while eating even though I felt overly full. It was like there was no room to put food in there but my body wanted more nutrients. That said I gained weight. Not just weight as in fat but I also started suffering with major edema ( swelling). I’d blow up overnight and I’d wake up 5-8lbs heavier and so swollen everywhere. My face, arms legs, abdomen, everything. In the morning my hubby would say what the heck happened to you? This went on for months.

My symptoms included:

  • inability to wake up in the morning
  • mental fog/fatigue/lethargy (including mega writer’s block!)
  • muscle soreness/joint pain
  • weakness
  • constant new injuries
  • back pain around my lower ribs from my belly pulling
  • dry brittle hair, hair breakage and loss
  • dry skin
  • skin irritation – I could no long wear any earrings at all, even the gold studs I’d been wearing for 5 years
  • more intense teeth grinding
  • anxiety
  • change in menstrual cycle (severe PMS and cramping)
  • strange body odour
  • strange smelling breath
  • extreme hunger but can’t get full cycling with no appetite
  • change in bowel movements (not feeling empty)
  • increased food sensitivities
  • increased digestive issues
  • severe stomach pain
  • severe bloating/distention
  • edema
Bloating
Example of the bloating, distention and edema all over

 

example of distention
example of distention

While I was waiting to see the GI specialist I started working a lot on my digestive system and I completed a 4 week gut healing protocol. Leaky gut can cause many of my symptoms and because I have celiac it was completely possible I have a compromised gut lining. Again the seemed to help but only a small amount.

The next protocol I did was one for adrenal fatigue and it was amazing. Again I felt better but still not 100%. A lot of this protocol is very much about reducing the intensity at the gym and allowing your body to heal through low impact cortisol reducing activities. I did a lot of walking, meditation and short slow steady weight training sessions. I really enjoyed this protocol but I was missing my training in a big way. That was another 8 weeks or so.

During this time I was waiting for my endoscopy scope procedure so the GI specialist suggested I try a prescription med for stomach acid ( the opposite of the low stomach acid I originally had) so I friend a drug called Tecta, it made things so much worse within days, my stomach blew up and all the pains ams back so she and I agreed and I stopped that and went back to what was working for me.

In the meantime my doctors kept running tests, I finally had an endoscopy a few months later ( scope where they look down your throat with a tube) and they took several biopsies – everything came back normal and actually even great, above average healthy gut- go figure.I also had so much blood work done ( one day I had 15 vials taken), my hormones checked, my cortisol checked, abdominal ultrasounds, food intolerance testing. I also saw a physiotherapist, massage and chiro for the muscle and joint pain.

The food intolerance test came back with 25 new intolerances  for me in addition to gluten including dairy, nuts, squash, flax to name a few. I cut these out and started to feel better. I took it up a notch and started following an anti inflammatory diet. One that’s recommended if you have autoimmune diseases like celiac, arthritis, Hashimoto’s etc. This really helped and I started feeling better again but I still felt off.

At this point I was getting comments like maybe it’s stress, take some time off work, you look well, you are the best looking sick person I know and and blah blah. I’m a high strung, high energy person, have been all my life, this was not stress and thank goodness for makeup because I was not looking that good, common!

Finally in one of my visits to the GP I asked if we should do a stool sample, they are not usually done if your symptoms don’t include diarrhea and in fact they are not very accurate in Canada but she agreed and said why not at this point.

Because we didn’t have much faith in that test (and because it’s a pain in the ass (heheh) to do) I set it aside and forgot about it. About a month later I saw my naturopath again and we decide the next step was to complete a parasite treatment. We agreed to wait until I was back from travelling to start it but to go ahead and do the still test. Well you won’t believe it but when I got back from my vacation my results were in. Tested positive for a parasite called Blastocystitis Hominis! The fact that it showed up is actually such a blessing, I had some answers!

Blastocystis Hominis
Not so easy though, the problem is that no one knew how to treat it so I had to wait. While I waited for my doctors to have their answers I researched the hell out of that thing. I scoured my nutrition text books and the internet. What I came up with was pretty fascinating. This parasite used to be considered non pathogenic was now being considered an issue and an issue for a lot of people all over the world! The problem is the medical community hasn’t quite caught up with the new findings.

So when I got the call back from the GI Specialist saying that they don’t consider it pathogenic and not to bother treating it I expected it but I didn’t buy it. With everything I’d read and because I was considered completely healthy except for that it just didn’t make sense not to look at this parasite as a potential issue.

Basically at that point I dove head first in finding out as much info as I could about this parasite and all parasites in general. I reached out to the Centre for Disease Control in Canada as well as other countries who deal with these issues more often and got some great information. Basically I was able to put together a treatment protocol and information to support it and went back to my family doctor as well as my naturopath.

We discussed it all in great detail and decided that treating it was worth a try. Some of the conventional medications suggested were not available in Canada so we came up with the close equivalents and she prescribed me a heavy dose of a double antibiotic for 10days. Those 10 days were brutal! Serious side effects like nausea, migraines, shakes, insomnia, yeast infections etc. Pretty nasty stuff.

I’ll write another post in more detail about the entire treatment protocol including side effects  but essentially the antibiotics combined with homeopathic, oils and herbal remedies seemed to work. Within days I was feeling better, better than I had in over a year and within a month I was back to myself including back in the gym.

 

December 17 - 1 month after treatment
December 17 – 1 month after treatment

 

It’s been about about 7 weeks since I started the treatment and my first re-test result has come back negative. I have another due next month to ensure the parasite hasn’t returned and that we killed it in all stages of it’s life cycle. If you don’t it’s possible to become re-infected.

I jump out of bed in the morning, I’ve got energy and clarity and my appetite is finally coming back. I can almost see the outline of my abs again and and finding my strength in the gym.

I’m still suffering with food intolerances, a side effect of parasites as well a muscular issue with by abdominal wall from the extreme distention called a diastistis (often happens in pregnancy) and I’ve got about 12lbs to loose before I’m back where I was last year but I’m slowly working through those. My skin, gut and lady parts are still unhappy from the antibiotics and I’m working on healing from that too. Other that that I’m feeling amazing and am so ready to tackle 2015!

Now that my mental fog and writer’s block has lifted I’ll continue to write more about all of this in more detail but what I want to say how important it is to really be an advocate for your health. No one knows how you feel unless you explain. Everyone is different and it’s so important to listen to what your body is telling you. Chronic aches, pains and digestive issues are not normal. Nutrition and exercise are a huge component of your health so that’s where to start but keep pushing and strive to feel your best!

Happy New Year & cheers to health!

 

15 thoughts on “My Parasite Story – Part 1

  1. thank you for your this post. i have been recently diagnosis (and relieved) with blasto for I have been struck with the similar symptoms of severe abdominal distention and discomfort. as someone who took pride in being fit and energized this problem has been quite the journey! are you glad you did the antibiotics and feel taking it in conjunction with the herbal remedies was the best protocol? i was rx Flagyl but I am researching whether or not I should try a more specific herb remedy instead of flushing out of my system of all good/bad bacteria. also, is there ANY way you can post the nutrition protocol you used during this time??? thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  2. Hi Maddy

    I had 2 questions about your experience.

    1) How long from when you began your antibiotics did you notice your distension go away?

    2) Did you ever see the parasites with your eyes? (hope this is not tmi lol)

    1. Hi Christine!
      ok so I noticed a difference within probably a few days. My stomach was very flat for about a week after however as I started taking more liberties with foods I noticed the distention flared up again. It was to a lesser degree and not quite the same symptoms but essentially the new intolerances I’d developed did not go away with the parasite. At least not yet.
      i didn’t notice anything in the eyes although the type I had was a microscopic cell so I wouldn’t have been able to see it if I had. There are many types though! Do you think you have something showing up in your eyes?

  3. Hi Maddy,

    I have been following your blog and this story in particular for a while. Thank you for sharing! Its been so helpful to me as I have been experiencing the SAME thing for over 8 weeks now.

    I am in Boston luckily and my doctor is at Mass General Hospital which is one of the best. Needless to say, they are at a loss as well! I have been seeing a GI specialist there who had me do CT scans and an emergency colonoscopy (which was SO inflammatory and painful on its own). I had dropped 10lbs in 2 weeks because anything I ingested, including water, would go right through me violently.

    The first tests they do here are stool samples for CDiff, parasites and bacterial infections. All my tests have been negative. Excellent bloodwork. Celiac was negative (but I don’t eat a high wheat or gluten diet anyway).

    I have an outstanding natural nutritionist who tests me regularly for my food allergies and intolerances though applied kinesiology. He was so surprised my parasite test was negative… So he is now treating me for a virus in my lower intestine and descending colon. My doctor also has me on antibiotics.

    I too have been on low stomach acid treatment (though my natural guy) for a few years now. I take HCL tablets with food. Makes a HUGE difference but hasn’t been helping too much recently.

    So I am waiting to hear back from my GI doctor and I’m going to mention the parasite you have. Since its pretty common and most of your symptoms are identical to mine, I wonder if its a possibility!

    I have lost over 6 weeks of training, which has made me depressed as I had my first photo shoot scheduled for this month. I’m competing again in the Spring. But I have only really been able to eat rice and oatmeal (blah). Life could be worse! 🙂

    Again, thank you for sharing and I really enjoy your blog posts! Happy New Year!
    🙂 Yvette

    1. Hi Yvette! I love your IG 🙂

      I feel your pain, so sorry about it all and about your training. What I can say about that is to be patient and gentle with your body while you figure it out. Our longterm health is so much more imprint than a photoshoot or show.

      Regarding the parasite yes absolutely it can go undetected, call the lab to make sure they testing for it (and several other parasites). Ask them what they are testing exactly so you know.

      Regarding the HCL you may need to up your dose. It’s called an HCL challenge, you take as much as you need until it burns a little and then you back off my one pill. Also the antibiotics will affect your gut quite a bot so that could be another factor!

      I hope this helps, keep me posted on your discoveries! I’ll be posting part2 this week or next.

  4. Absolutely love this post! Thank you for sharing! I’m SO glad that you are feeling better now. Good job in taking charge- thats exactly what I’ve been learning as well — only you know your body… and it seems as though the only way to heal is to take charge of your own health & not stop till you’ve figured it out!

    Do you mind sharing the protocol that you used to clear this parasite? I’m dealing with the same issue and would love to hear.

  5. This is such a fascinating post! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must have been for you to have no idea why your body was being your enemy. Shame on the doctors for not wanting to deal with it properly, but great job doing the research and taking charge! So glad you’re back on a path of wellness! ~Ree

    1. Thank you for the support Ree! I try not to blame the doctors, they really did try to help and it’s actually all rather difficult to diagnose. In any case I was reminded how staying committed to your own health and cause is so important. xoxox
      Maddy

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