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The Hot Dog That Ruined My Life (Kidding...Kind Of)

Gut HealthHolly SteinComment

Joking, but not...but seriously though, had it not happened, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I truly do believe that it all happens for a reason.  Maybe I would have never ended up on this path of gut health….who knows! But I really do believe this is how my gut issues started. Many of my close friends know about the “hot dog” and how I’ve had digestive issues ever since I ate it!

So anyways.  Senior year of high school I went to a Laker game with my h.s. boyfriend.  His parents had front row center court seasons tickets which was rad, and I was lucky to go to many games!  After games I always wanted one of those bacon wrapped hot dogs from the street vendors….they just looked and smelled SO GOOD.  Well, one day in March 2003, I gave some random guy $5 in exchange for a greasy bacon wrapped hotdog topped with grilled onions.  It was delicious. I finished the whole thing by the time we got to the car. About 25 minutes into our drive home my stomach started to hurt.  I didn’t think much of it and it kinda went away. The next day, Friday, I went to school and was totally fine. But that afternoon while watching our school’s soccer game I started to get super nauseous and weak so I went home.  I rested and it went away. The rest of the weekend was like that as well. I then started to have a lot of acidity and reflux symptoms and the only thing I felt like I could eat was bread.

A few weeks after that I went to a G.I. doctor.  He didn’t ask me about my diet and what I was eating (never mentioned to maybe try eliminating gluten for 30 days...although back in 2003 I guess it wasn’t a thing yet).  He didn’t talk to me much about my lifestyle or stress levels, and parasites were DEFINITELY not a though on his mind. He prescribed me some antacids and sent me on my way.  Well, that didn’t seem to help. So after trying different medicines without a ton of relief we did an endoscopy. I was told I was fine. That fall I started college and things started to get better on their own.  I tried avoiding a lot of fat in my diet because I felt like it was harder to digest...but by spring semester it seemed to be in the rear view mirror.

Well, spring semester sophomore year they started to come back.  I did another endoscopy and I was fine. I also did a 24 hour PH test where they stick a tube up your nose and down the back of your throat into your stomach.  You wear this little monitor and it constantly measures the PH of your stomach for 24 hours. It was a cool look for a 19 year old. I also did this upper GI test where I drank some sort of fluid and they scanned my upper GI.  Those tests also came back normal.

After that symptoms subsided again and things were “normal.”  I put normal in quotes because while I felt like I could pretty much live life uninterrupted, I was constantly dealing with constipation.  I also at that time didn’t know it was not normal to go days without pooping. And sidenote: Just because something is common, does not mean it’s normal.  

Then at around 25 other symptoms came back and I did a colonoscopy...which if I remember correctly came back normal.  I needed to just drink a lot of water, eat a lot of fiber, and exercise.

Let’s also sprinkle in many rounds of antibiotics for urinary tract infections over the years as well.  My last round of antibiotics was at 25 when I had a kidney infection. And back then I had NO idea about the concept of repopulating my gut bacteria.  

Finally, at 26 I started to awaken.  Eric and I watched Food, Inc. (Shoutout to the O.G. health documentaries!) and were aghast at what we learned.  We also watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and I did a 10 day juice cleanse. We started making major changes and making sure to buy organic/non-gmo/grass fed/pasture-raised.  I started to feel fantastic! We also went further down the rabbit hole and learned about the toxic chemicals in our skin care products, cleaning products, etc. and I’ve been making just about all of those products for the last six years.  And what I don’t make, I buy super clean non-toxic lines. In the midst of that I lost 30 pounds and felt like I had a new start at life.

From about 27 to 31 things were pretty smooth sailing in the physical health department.  I no joke didn’t even catch a cold for like 5-6 years. I was energized, my brain and focus were laser sharp.  I never got that afternoon slump, and my digestion was pretty on point as long as I started my morning with a huge glass of water with lemon.

Through my entire pregnancy (Feb 2016-Nov 2016) I felt great.  I didn’t have any aches or pains, and the only ailment I had to complain about was heartburn.  But as long as I avoided the super acidic foods it was fine. It was after the birth of my son that things started to unravel….

After my son was born I experienced a lot of the common post partum symptoms.  I was tired, emotional, a little brain foggy, bloated. And while I’m sure those things really were attributed to post partum, I blamed “post partum” for too long as to why I was not feeling up to par.  I breastfed Rory for two years, so for his first two years of life I kept saying, “Well I’m still breastfeeding, that’s why I feel like this… my hormones are still off.” And then I stopped breastfeeding and things didnt get better.  But they didnt get worse right away either. The symptoms were on and off until mid-January of this year.

Out of nowhere I was insanely bloated 24/7, had brain fog, crazy fatigue out of nowhere, headaches, dizziness, etc.  I knew something was wrong at that point that I needed to fix. If you read a few posts back you’ll see how I found out how I had parasites.

BUT...this brings us full circle with the hot dog.  Parasites are rampant in pork. After talking with my doctor that I am working with… it is likely that I contracted a parasite(s) from that hot dog back in 2003.  Parasites can stay dormant for years without wreaking havoc. It seems that they did wreak a little havoc over the first few years, but when I really started to eat cleaner and strengthen my immune system they laid low.  Parasites and infections will lay dormant waiting for the right opportunity to attack. My doctor ALSO thinks that due to the weakened immune system that comes with pregnancy along with the crazy hormone shifts...the parasites/infection found the window they were waiting for to make their presence more known.  Over the least two-ish years they have slowly started to take over until I got to a point this January when I really knew something was wrong.

However, as you can see, this story is all speculation and a bunch of things that could have likely happened, and I’ll never officially know the story of how it all went down...but for now, I’m still holding on my story of the “hot dog” that messed me up.

Maybe after reading this you have a similar story.  Or maybe looking back some pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together?  If you think you have some sort of gut issue and/or parasites...act now! Start doing some research and give yourself a cleanse!