My Story - Precursor to Fecal BacteriotherapyIBS-D IBS Major Depression Story Panic Disorder Panic Attacks Cymbalta Pristiq Antidepressants
Posted 04 October 2013 - 08:39 AM
Hello, I've read numerous articles on this site and also found "TheFreeman"'s cure using fecal bacteriotherapy. I've decided to pursue the same course of action and blog my results here in this forum. However, before I do that I want to give my long-winded history with this disease and share how severely it's impacted my life for the last 8 years.
It all started on Easter 2005. I had a severe case of gastroenteritis that caused an 18 hour period of intense vomiting and diarrhea; it was the worst I had ever experienced in my life. After this my gut/stomach always felt much more sensitive. I attributed this to anxiety, and indeed whenever my stomach felt yucky I would be borderline panic attack. At the time I believed the nausea was due to anxiety, and the anxiety was due to the memory of the traumatic gastroenteritis. I saw a doctor months later and was put on Zoloft for anxiety. Zoloft gave me nothing but side effects and lost sleep, so they switched me to Cymbalta, which did nothing for me either. I gained a deep distrust of anti-depressants as a result.
In mid-2005 I started feeling intense nausea/panic after every meal. I was missing my college classes due to eating breakfast. To make class, I would not eat breakfast or lunch, but instead wait until dinner. Sometimes this would lead to me wanting to pass out, though I never did. When I got home and ate dinner, regardless of what I ate, I would feel intense gut pain and desire to vomit, though I almost never actually did. This pain would manifest in panic attacks that lasted often until 3 in the morning – even when I had dinner at 4. IF I had to describe the pain, I would say it felt like there was a brick in my gut just underneath my belly button. At least twice, I went to the hospital emergency room when I couldn’t stop the panic attacks and was to the point of exhaustion. They would sedate me with Ativan and send me home. I was missing an unacceptable number of days at school. I immediately began seeing doctors and attempting to resolve the problem. After numerous tests including a stomach endoscopy that was negative, they decided to remove my gall bladder, and a biopsy determined my gall bladder contained “sludge”. It was around this time that I ceased taking Cymbalta because it had no effect on me and it was becoming clear there were other physical issues at work causing my anxiety.
After having my gall bladder out, I would still feel very sick after eating, but the majority of the time it wasn’t as “sharp”. In spite of how much school I missed, my college made an exception to allow me to finish classes, albeit with a reduced GPA. It turns out the college President’s husband had panic disorder, and she took sympathy on me because of my excellent college work prior. After college was the last time I had health insurance.
In 2006 I took a job in computer repair, but due to my illness I was let go after 2 months. I was missing up to two days of work per week due to anxiety attacks plus gut pain/nausea. I went to the doctor and got blood tests, and stool samples at the hospital. I do not remember which tests, but all were returned as normal. I was told I had irritable bowel syndrome, and given Ativan and Bentyl. The finance group wiped my debts since I did not have a job and no means of making payment. I was told I was not allowed to use their services again for a year.
Immediately afterwards, I started an IBS diet based on avoiding fats, insoluble fiber, and eating lots of soluble fiber. This was based off of the ...com website. This resulted in a lot of rice, pasta, bananas, avocados, and breads. In spite of the amount of carbs I was eating, my weight dropped to 130-135 pounds. My weight prior my illness was 190 pounds. I am 6 foot tall, so I was pretty skinny and unhealthy looking.
I still ended up in the emergency room a few times that year after having my blood tests(driving up my debts). One time I had taken double the prescribed dose of Ativan(I was prescribed 1 mg, but I took 2mg). In spite of that my anxiety did not let up, but instead made the panic feel more exhausting. After hours of nausea/panic I became desperate and I went back to the emergency room where they sedated me(further) and sent me back home.
After further doctors’ appointments I was convinced, in part due to the ineffectiveness of my medication, to pursue other tests to determine the cause of my discomfort because I could not accept that irritable bowel syndrome could cause such horrifying pain and anxiety. The doctor and I agreed to a colonoscopy to examine my bowel. The results of the colonoscopy were negative. There was nothing visibly wrong with my colon.
At this point I’d like to point out that I had a constant battle in my head. I realized I had racked up about 13 grand in hospital debt(that I could not excuse myself from) for nothing. The pain and panic was so horrifyingly real, but it’s also a common symptom of panic disorder to think there is something wrong with you when in reality it’s those thoughts that drive your panic disorder and keep you ill. My father helped me buy the ibs hypnotherapy sessions off of ...com, and I listened to them religiously every day. While listening to those sessions I would feel somewhat better(and indeed I come back to them years later to relax), but the pain and anxiety would never leave.
I continued to try to gain employment, but I never was able to keep a job. I took on a temp job at the local car parts factory, but after absences my temp job was cut several weeks short.
After my failure to find a job and my mother’s inability to support me, I moved in with my father, and took an unpaid internship working at my brother’s rental office. I took this internship so that way my brother could see why I couldn’t hold a job, and then he could explain that to my parents. In a cruel twist of fate, he tolerated my poor work ethic because he didn’t want to pay for someone to work the office front desk. He later offered me a job working a hotel front desk in a hotel he had just bought, but the stress of moving there and managing the hotel without any training for it aggravated my gut. Finally I overheard my brother claiming I was faking it for sympathy and entitlement. At that point I could not tolerate it any longer, I quit and moved back home with my mother. At this point I had dropped to 125 pounds and would struggle not to faint if I had to walk any more than a quarter of a mile.
At this point in my life, I found myself repeatedly wishing I would die. Because I am a Christian and a strong believer, I could never bring myself to suicide, but I prayed wishing it was cancer instead because I could not tolerate the idea of having this pain for the rest of my life and being a burden to everyone around me for meaningless decades. When the thoughts of death and wanting to die left me desperate, I convinced myself that I needed to reach out for help before these thoughts made me do something stupid.
I walked into the emergency room yet again, hoping they’d commit me, because it would be a relief to be taken seriously. I walked up to the desk and stated I was having a breakdown. When I was seen by a nurse she asked if I wanted to, in her words, “kill yourself”. She asked it in the most indifferent, if not outright uncaring, tone I could imagine. I struggled to answer the question. The idea of saying yes seemed so morally wrong. I couldn’t bring myself to say yes so I said no. They put me in a room in the back and made me wait for over an hour before being seen by a doctor. He gave me an antidepressant prescription (which name escapes me) and was free to leave. I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription, and they told me it would cost almost $200. I had them call the ER back to get a new, affordable, prescription, but they said they can’t do that over the phone and I’d have to schedule an appointment with my doctor. Since I owed my doctor money, I wasn’t allowed to see him. In short, I added several grand of debt because I was desperate for help, and got nothing in return. I never told my parents about this visit.
Realizing that I cannot hold a job, I couldn’t handle the calls from the hospitals to pay up the 15 grand of debt I’ve collected in that time. I applied for disability, and was denied. Because I was denied disability, the food stamps ran out, and I was back to my father supporting me, though he believed I was fully capable of working, since all the tests I’ve had showed nothing wrong. When my own father didn’t believe how badly I was suffering, this drew me into a deeper depression, and constant thoughts of wanting to die.
In 2009 after numerous pleas from my mother, my father paid for me to see a doctor to get on an antidepressant. Since I had been on antidepressants before and they did nothing for me but give me side effects, I didn’t want to do it. My reasoning was that the only reason I’m depressed is because I’m sick all the time. If I wasn’t sick all the time I wouldn’t be depressed. What was the point of being “happy” and sick, still unable to work and being a burden to everyone around me? Even though I had a full expectation for the antidepressant to do nothing but cause me side effects, I wanted my mother to be happy, and I went to the doctor appointment. Since I still owed my doctor over $400, I wasn’t allowed to see him, but I had a former doctor from when I was in high school who still had my record, so I went and saw him. I told him I wanted Prozac because my mom had been on it for almost a decade and she tolerated it very well.
I got the $4 generic Prozac and started taking it every day. At first I could tell no difference.
Around this time I started reading my Bible again for the first time since I was ill. I apologize for any non-religious person reading this, but I consider this integral to my story, and I’ve already suppressed the religious influence this experience has had on my life thus far. I read Jesus’s sermon on the mount, and a verse stood out to me, Matthew 6:34 which says (quoting from memory) “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus was speaking in the context of struggling to get food to eat, and clothes to wear – the bare essentials. This verse clicked in my head because up to this point my thoughts were centered on being a burden to everyone for the rest of my life, and never having a real life or anything worth living for. I didn’t know what to do with my life, or my debt. This verse said I didn’t have to worry about that and that I only had to worry about today. I read that verse again thinking that God knew in 2005 when I was sick where I would be in 2009, and realized every single day that I worried through those years was a waste of time. From that point on, every time a thought entered my head that was worrying about the future, I would remember that verse and cast the thought aside and move on to something else. That seems insanely difficult, and perhaps the Prozac was helping, but it felt like the “Almighty” said I didn’t have to worry about it, and was going to trust He was right.
After a week of being on the Prozac, something unusual started happening. At first it was that I was staying up longer. I used to sleep on average 10-12 hours a day, because early in the evening I would get migraines and dizziness and so I would go to bed early to avoid that. After being on the Prozac that feeling was almost non-existent. Then, my appetite increased. I was less nauseous, and was actually gaining weight. I was skeptical of the medicine’s help up until I got on the scale and realized I touched 140 pounds for the first time in years.
At that time I started pushing the envelope of what I could do. Could I drink a can of coke without feeling like I need to vomit? I decided to find out. I enjoyed a coke. After I drank I waited to see if the pain nausea and anxiety would come, but it didn’t. So I had another. Then later that evening, I had a 3rd coke. Finally my stomach started gurgling and I felt *a little yucky*. I felt satisfied that I had really put it to the test. I was still able to sleep that night. The next morning I had horrendous diarrhea. But I was actually smiling while I was going because it didn’t hurt *HALF* as bad as it would have if I had drank a single coke. I had started to feel better.
NOTE: To this day, I seldom drink pop.
After a few weeks of improvement I decided to take on a job. This was made much more difficult because the nation just experienced the market crash of 2009. In spite of my associate’s degree in computer programming, I instead took a job watching over mentally handicapped folks. I didn’t know if I could do that job, and some days I sincerely questioned it, but to my great pride, I did that job for TWO YEARS, never missing more than a couple of days a month due to illness, and even those days were rare.
I later moved on to a better paying remote technical support job that utilized my talents. I’m still at this job. In fact, I ended up marrying my best friend and we’re making it work with what little we have and the debts we need paying off. I would have NEVER dreamed I would be working a good job and having a wife to come home to.
My weight gain continued but now I am over 230 pounds. In fact, I can’t stop gaining weight. I went to the doctor and was determined to be pre-diabetic. I switched anti-depressants in an attempt to find something that didn’t provoke my appetite as much.
Up to this point, I still had stomach pain and yuckiness these last 3-4 years. The only difference is that it was reduced enough that I could hold a job. Now I was, riskily, trying to find a new medication that didn’t provoke constant and painful hunger pangs. I wanted to find a solution before I end up with more medical complications.
Well it turns out everything that doesn’t cause hunger pains, causes my IBS pain to come back full blown. I switched to Cymbalta again after all these years, and even though it helped my depression, my gut pain was roaring. I lost 8 pounds while on Cymbalta, but when I started missing work, I realized I couldn’t stay on it any longer.
I switched to yet another new medicine called Pristiq and it is working really well for my gut pain but it’s $185 a month, and my HSA that I fought for won’t cover a dime of it until I spend more than $3000 on medical(per year). Even worse, the painful hunger pangs are back and I’m finding it so very difficult to not overeat.
So now I’m in a quandary: I can keep taking expensive meds to hang on to feeling better(but still yuckiness and pains every day). This means I will keep gaining weight and potentially become full blown diabetic.
I go to a medicine that helps depression but leaves my gut in tremendous pain, but I’d have no risk of developing diabetes.
I tried finding a 3rd option, such as taking Cymbalta with Hyoscyamine/Dicyclomine but my gut still hurt too much for either to be effective.
So where I am at now: I am gaining weight, still holding a job, and still have a loving and supportive wife. I would’ve never believed I could have come this far. Still, I am on my way back into sickness, and I have to do something about that. I still have chronic, but managed, gut pain.
I’ve decided that I’m going to try Fecal Bacteriotherapy. I cannot afford it and insurance won’t cover it. So I have to do it myself if I want to take a chance to get better. I plan on coming back and blogging my progress on this site. Stay tuned.
Posted 04 October 2013 - 11:55 PM
Good luck. I'm trying the FMT tomorrow night as well. I'll be rooting for you!
"I could be wrong about everything." -Me
Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:21 AM
PD85, are you blogging this procedure anywhere? I'd love to see your progress and history. I'm delaying trying this until next weekend for my donor. I intend to blog it here in the comments as I try it.
Posted 14 October 2013 - 06:40 AM
My donor had diarrhea this past weekend, so I have to wait a few weeks before I can do the FMT, unless I find another donor. Looks like I'm still waiting.