And I WASN'T. Eeep.
Wanna hear about it?
About this time last year, my stomach was doing some pretty odd things. I would wake up with a totally flat stomach (not defined, mind you - just flat) and by the time I went to bed, I looked like I was about six months pregnant. I'm not exaggerating. Seriously - six months. I assumed it was food related, but couldn't figure out what the cause was. I didn't have any other tummy problems, for the most part. No gas (TMI!), no pains, and I certainly wasn't incubating a fetus to six months of age every day then magically and painlessly giving birth to it while I slept, so what the hell? I did notice that I had zero energy by the end of the day, was horribly grouchy (food babies will do that to you, I guess), craved desserts like a CRAZY woman and was horribly emotional.
I went to a gastrointestinal specialist, and he very dismissively diagnosed me with IBS, by just looking at me. That's it. Told me to eat fiber, take imodium. Neither of which did a thing to help my phantom six month food fetus.
I started spending way too many hours on line doing research on my symptoms, and after about two months of dealing with this, finally started getting somewhere. It looked like I might have something called SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. I started taking pics of my belly when I woke up, at lunch time, and when I went to bed. I tracked what I ate and when, and after reading a bit on SIBO, discovered that the only real "cure" is to eat as low carb as possible, since the bacteria that have taken over your gut thrive on carbs. Huzzah! It worked. But still... wth was I going to do the rest of my life? Live low carb? I still needed a doctor to figure out what caused it and how to make it go away.
More internet research brought me to a specialist at Emory Hospital. He was an endocrinologist that had started researching nutritional issues in endocrinology patients and was only seen after an interview. Yep, I had to interview to see this doctor. My case had to be special enough. It was.
I brought my pics, my diet, my argument to him, ready to fight vehemently that I did NOT have IBS. I didn't have to. He said it was 100% SIBO, and he didn't even have to perform a hydrogen breath test to know that. He told me to stick to serious low carb for three months (NO SUGAR), take heavy probiotics, take gas-x even though I had no gas (it did help), and gave me a prescription for Xifaxin, an antibiotic that was only recently approved by the FDA for travelers diarrhea which is absorbed directly into the intestinal lining instead of the blood stream, thereby killing the bacteria in a more vicious, gladiator manner. And it DID. Now, months later, I still notice that if I eat too many carbs in a day, my stomach will bloat up to about four months phantom food baby. I have an emergency stash of Xifaxin in case I have issues again.
What caused this? I have thyroid disease, and flip flop back and forth between hypo and hyper. When you go hypo, your body sloooooows dooooown, including your, uh, motility. That is, you don't poop often. Slowed down motility = bacteria hanging out too long = multiplying like a mofo = SIBO.
So what happened at the nail salon? Well, the nail technician asked if I was pregnant. This was in the very early stages, when everything first started, so I was aghast that someone would ask that! After yelling WHAT?!?! at her, she then acted like she didn't speak English. Awesome. I never went back there.
What did I learn from this? a) a big belly doesn't always mean someone is pregnant, b) but neither does it mean that someone is fat - sometimes it's an underlying problem that needs to be checked out. Don't ignore stuff like this. SIBO is a miserable little bastard of a problem, but at least now I know how to handle it, should it reappear and c) sometimes, you really do have to do have to take control of your health and research your symptoms and present a case to a doctor. If you can't get a doctor to listen to you, go to another one. Don't accept a dismissive diagnosis if it doesn't feel right or sound right to you. Take charge of your health. No one cares about it as much as you.