Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When tests fail

For the last almost 16 months I've had a bacterial infection or overgrowth in my digestive tract, or at least I say it is and know from experience, but not all gastroenterologists would agree with that diagnosis, in spite of the evidence.

One, however, saw it not only wasn't normal, but clearly some type of infection, but all the tests for known bacterial infections and overgrowth were negative. And while many specialist might give up saying they don't know what it is, and as I've written before, "Patient heal thyself."

Last year were down to the last test, a colonoscopy, which was scheduled for last June but wasn't done, so he did an endoscopy on my upper GI tract, from the throat to the duodenum, where he found I had Barrett's Esophagus. Like I cared since it wasn't a problem.

Anyway, since last June the war between the body and the bacteria had good and bad periods, some where I lost 4-5 lbs in 3-4 day when the body was winning, and where I gained 4-5+ lbs when the bacteria was winning.

So we scheduled another colonoscopy, which was done today (2/9/16) after a weekend of two preparations kits to ensure the colon was flushed and cleansed. I had a day of fasting and then the  prescription preparation protocol each of two days before. Yeah, overkill it was, in every manner of speaking.

The colonoscopy proved effectively meaningless, finding nothing obviously physically wrong related to the bacteria or polyps (none), but finding two small other problems, normal stuff of age and consistent digestive problems, nothing worth pursuing, although he sent one out for biopsy.

What I was thinking before the proceedure and which proved with the proceedure - I was only mildly sedated to watch the monitor and talk with the gastroenterologist during the proceedure - was that colonoscopies have one major flaw.

Not so much the colonoscopy, but the whole proceedure with the preparation. A colonoscopy looks for physical problems in the large colon. It can't look for other problems, such as bacteria, tissue masses, etc. because they're flushed out with the preparation.

And unless they leave attachments or remanents on the intestinal wall, the gastroenterologist won't see them. It's the gap in gastroenterology, between the known tests for non-physical conditions and tests for physical conditions.

This gap, however, is huge, in part why they call it Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is short for "It's bets the Shit" out of us. They can't know what they can't identify, and therefore can't treat conditions they don't know.

And this is where I'm at. To me it's a bacterial infection when it flares up because not only does it hamper the large colon, it has extensive side effects throughout the body, often flu-like symptoms. But two labs have only identified it as "aggregate bacteria" from samples.

What's also frurstrating is that I've met other people with other digestive conditions to go through the series of tests and arrive at the same place with their specialists, it's unknown, and therefore untreatable, unless the specialist is willing to experiment with the patients approval.

So this is where I'm at, but my gastroenterologist is leaving the clinic for another job, so I have to find a new gastroenterologist, and effectively start all over, except we have all the tests results proving what we don't know and nothing of what we know.

What I've also learned, some at the recommendation of gastroenterologists or naturopaths, is that probiotics are a disaster. Four different brands of different single or multiple probiotics made matters worse, like sending more soldiers into an ongoing major battle.

Enzymes don't work, as has several other health supplements which are supposed to help fight digestive bacterial problems. All of these only made the bacteria condition worse. I've found fasting helps as does colds and the flu, because the immune system seems to fight anything it sees as abnormal, which includes this bateria.

Anyway, just some thoughts to date. Since mid-January, the body is winning the battles and war after 3+ weeks of the bacteria winning. I went from 144 lbs in early December to over 152 lbs in January and am down to 143 lbs this week.

That's the difference the bacteria adds to the body when it flares up, 5-7 lbs, and all in my digestive tract with all the associated problems in the digestive tract and symptoms in the body. And there's nothing doctors will do. They can prescribe universal antibiotics but won't without specific test showing it's an infection, which requires identifying the bacteria, which they can't seem to do.

While I still have some measure of confidence in gastroenterologists, the ones who care enough to keep exploring than be dismissive of the patient, I don't have much confidence they can solve my problem, so I live with it for now and try ways to keep it in check and hope the body overcomes it for good, some day.

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