Doctor #2 was recommended by a friend who had personal experience with the doctor. I felt like I would be in good hands and that this new doctor would be able to help me get back to healthy. My insurance at the time did not have many options that were close to home for me, so I decided to see him even though I would be paying out of pocket.
Unsatisfied with my previous colonoscopy results, Doctor #2 wanted to do his own examination. So colonoscopy number two, coupled with an endoscopy, yielded basically the same results: inflammation in the colon, but not in the esophagus. I was less than thrilled that I was put through all of the prep again for no new information and at a far higher cost.
He at least seemed to have some basic understanding of how foods can effect the gut so I will give him that credit, although it was pretty limited limited. He had me cut out nuts, seeds, greens, and anything too fibrous from my diet. Cutting out these foods was difficult at the time because that covered a lot of what I was eating as I became more aware of what a healthy diet looked like, but if it was going to make me whole again then I was willing to give those things up. He also had me try a couple other medications approved for UC while on the special diet.
After about two months, I was still not seeing any improvements. I was feeling very bloated all the time and still had bloody diarrhea multiple times a day. Doctor #2 wanted me to do a transit test where I would swallow a pill that would leave markers throughout my digestive system and then get CT scans to watch the progress of the markers over a few days (called a sitz marker test). I was excited for this test and really thought it would help give some clues as to what was going on and why I was constantly bloated. The results came back inconclusive and even the doctor couldn't understand how that was possible.
My symptoms were not getting any better but I kept trying all of his diet and medication suggestions which included anti-depressants. He told me that anti-depressants have been shown to help relieve gut symptoms but scientists weren't exactly sure why, they just knew that sometimes it helps- as I would later learn, so much of your neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are produced in the gut, and this is why anti-depressants can "help" gut issues. I was extremely hesitant to start anti-depressants because I knew they could be addictive and I didn't want to be dependent on them. but I gave it a try anyway because I just didn't really know what else to do at that point. I was losing weight because I had no appetite, was urgently using the bathroom 8+ times a day and felt awful and bloated everyday.
Then Doctor #2 wanted me to redo the sitz marker test, but I had to buy my own sitz markers through a third party (instead of him providing them like the first time) and I was starting to get a weird vibe from him. Around that time his very long term receptionist suddenly left his practice and after a couple more appointments I understood why. He was acting erratic and I wasn't comfortable seeing him anymore so I left his practice. Unfortunately I didn't have any other leads on better doctors, so I went back to my first practice, but was able to see a different doctor.
The new doctor at my first practice (Doctor #3) was curious if my original UC diagnosis was correct, but seeing as I already had 2 colonoscopies within a few months of each other he did not want to do another procedure so soon. Instead he ordered more blood tests that all came back normal just like they always did. So, all he could do was prescribe more medications as trials, but had no further information on what was going on with me, nor the desire to really find out even when I tried to push for more answers. So far all the doctors just wanted to treat my symptoms and their only tactic was trying different medications one after another in hopes of finding one that would calm my symptoms. None of this made sense to me as a 26 year old with no previous gut issues. I was suddenly extremely sick, but no doctor could even tell me why. Something inside me knew that this was not the life I was meant to live and that someone out there would have better answers for me.
This is when I found my first functional doctor (Doctor #4) who uses a mixture of scientific testing and holistic remedies to find and treat the root cause of health problems. Of course insurance doesn't cover any of this sort of expense so everything with this doctor was out of pocket, but at least this kind of treatment was something I could wrap my head around, it just made more logical sense to me. She promised me she could help and that healing the gut naturally was 100% doable. I did more testing-more thorough than any of the tests that any of the medical doctors had tried-with blood and hair samples. The results showed definite issues and deficiencies but I was excited that she found things to work on, unlike the other test results that always said I was "healthy". I followed her instructions to a T, desperate for the pain to stop and to be healthy again. I took tons of supplements, detoxed heavy metals, and tried a soft food diet. I eliminated gluten, eliminated nightshades, eliminated raw foods, eliminated sugars including fruits, eliminated more and more and more until I was on a bone broth and garlic soup diet and nothing else; and yes, you could literally smell me walk into a room, I know, super attractive.
After further testing Doctor #4 said that there must be a biofilm that was protecting all the bad bacteria and the reason I wasn't getting any better. So that's what we worked on next, but again after weeks of trying to break the biofilm and detox, no improvements. I was hell bent on healing myself and willing to try anything because I was living a terrible life in pain and fear. I was in my later 20's and almost bedridden. I couldn't eat without pain and urgent bathroom runs, I couldn't sleep without waking up in pain every hour, and there were days and even weeks that I couldn't even leave the house. It felt like my life was over, but I wanted this to work so badly because I not only wanted to be healthy, but I didn't want to be on medication for the rest of my life. It had been nine months, I hadn't improved at all, I had spent a very lot of money on these appointments and supplements. While I still wanted to continue a natural approach, I was at a point where my health was just continually getting worse and I needed medical intervention. I had already seen two doctors in the most recommended local gastroenterologist practice and left unhappy, so I needed to find somewhere new. My body was in such bad shape, I knew I needed to find someone that could help and fast, so it was off to New York City to see a top specialist that specialized in complementary medicine-a mix of holistic and traditional remedies, but unfortunately NYC would not be my last stop on this journey to find good health.
As a side note: I still think back on these times and realize how incredibly lucky I was to have these options available to me thanks to my parents helping me with my medical bills, and for that I am so incredibly grateful, I don't think I would have found the right path eventually if it wasn't for their constant support.