health

on the cost of having a digestive disorder

i have had a dodgy stomach for at least 17 years – my first memories of it are the crippling stomach pains I used to get when I was a teenager. Crippling stomach pains turned into upset stomachs at least every week, sometimes several times a week. I lived this way for so long without getting it investigated further, mostly because the one time I went to see a GP about it, he brushed it off as a sensitive stomach and IBS.

years of flare ups

since 2012 I’ve had at least one serious bout of severe stomach issues every year, with general ups and downs throughout the year – I have never been right in the stomach department. I guess things came to a head over the last couple of years as more and more things seemed to trigger me into a digestive tailspin. I have (somewhat) great powers of deduction and had figured out that I couldn’t tolerate corn AT ALL and had lactose and fructose intolerance. I also picked up on certain fruits/veggies that lay me low – I used to have horrible issues after eating jacket potatoes and apples did a number on me – holy cow, I a mess for at least a week.

i’ve had enough time over the years to see a pattern where (unbeknownst to me at the time) I was eating foods that were not good for me and I was overloading my system again and again and again until it just snapped and my intestines went into meltdown. Then, it seemed, whenever I touched that food that had triggered the issue, I’d have symptoms much more quickly. So, I just ended up cutting so many foods that I ended up on quite a restricted diet.

i didn’t hide it from my husband but I also didn’t go out of my way to tell him every last sordid little detail, so it wasn’t until we were on an extended holiday together last year that he truly saw first hand the struggles I was dealing with as we were spending every waking moment together.

time to do something

he basically won me over with pester power, convincing me I needed to see someone about my problems. By this point, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and so it didn’t really take much persuasion to spur me into action.

i was wary of doctors because of the way I’d been treated in the past and I didn’t feel like being talked at with condescension about a matter I knew was anything but trivial.

enter the nutritionist. I hadn’t a clue who to see, but a friend of a friend had had a good experience & recommended one to me. I went to see her, explained everything, she did an allergy test (corn allergy confirmed – knew it!) and recommended some tests for me to take – some blood tests as she wanted to check my vitamin & mineral levels, a liver function test and my thyroid function as well as a lactulose breath test as she suspected from all I’d said that I may have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

an answer

turns out I did have SIBO (pretty bad methane dominant) and some vitamin & mineral deficiencies to boot, so we came up with a supplement regimen that would hopefully tackle the issue.

i was so relieved to put a name to this issue and that it was fixable. Not an easy fix, mind, but I could do something to address it. All this came at a cost however. A cost that I was happy(ish) to pay as I knew I had a problem and I knew I needed to fix it. Not everyone can afford it though, which infuriates me that people go to their doctors with legitimate problems and they’re turned away and told it’s just a bit of tummy trouble. NO IT’S NOT, IT’S A CHRONIC CONDITION.

i thought it’d be useful to show just how much it’s cost in the 8 month period that I’ve been addressing this for.

categorycost
Nutritionist appointments£210
Supplements£424.87
Antimicrobial£386.74
Tests£419.22

Total: £1,440.83

there you have it – almost £1,500 on trying to fix my stomach. I know I’ve neglected the issue for so many years and likely caused a lot more damage that will take longer to heal but honestly, that’s a lot of flipping money. And I still have blips – I’m not fully well yet and it does frustrate me that I will need to continue to spend more over the coming months, perhaps even years. I know people will say, you can’t put a price on health and that’s true. But I also think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that it is expensive trying to get yourself healthy. 

if I were to give one piece of advice to someone struggling with gut issues – be persistent with your doctor – push as hard as you can for a referral to a gastro consultant. But also, seeing a nutritionist is money well spent. I don’t regret for a second seeing mine, she has been a crucial part of my recovery.

–NC

3 thoughts on “on the cost of having a digestive disorder”

  1. Good on you for prioritising your health! Even though it costs a fair bit of money, at least you’re more aware of what’s causing the condition, and how you can minimise the symptoms, especially after 17 years. I’m dealing with some new digestive issues as well. It’s only been 6 weeks of symptoms but I’m hating cutting out things I love to eat!

    1. I know, I’ve neglected my health for far too long – i just need to keep in mind I’ve had a dodgy stomach for so long it’s not going to right itself overnight!
      Cutting foods out to find the culprit of digestive issues is really annoying! You have my sympathy. Hope it sorts itself out soon.

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