I’m almost too nervous to say it: I feel a lot better. This feeling, though, has been many years in the making, and even seemed unreachable at times. At others, I caught a glimpse of life on the ‘other side’ before something – such as the two stomach bugs I wrote about in a previous post – snatched it away again. But since then, my symptoms have stabilized month upon month, and I’m now at a point where I have to wonder: what is my new normal?
The truth is, I never really knew what 'normal’ meant. I knew that my symptoms were definitely _ab_normal, but not what a typically healthy person experiences in terms of gut function. My boyfriend simply said, 'I know it’s fine when I don’t think about it at all. Which is most of the time.’ But having lived with a condition for as long as I can remember, would I ever get to the point where I really didn’t even think about my gut? Or, through learned behaviour, will I always be wary of it?
I’ve mentioned the importance of finding a doctor you can trust, one who’s experienced in functional gut health, if you’re challenging these sorts of issues. Mine is based in Canada whereas I live in the Netherlands. We converse over Skype and e-mail, but this month I found myself in his neck of the woods for work. Finally, I could meet the man who helped to change my life.
After I explained where things were at, he confirmed that yes, we seem to have cracked it. I mentioned my struggle with finding a new normal. Which takes me back to my boyfriend’s statement about not having to think about his gut most of the time. The keyword here is 'most’. I may have a day or two each month where things don’t as well, but so do most people, my doctor said. The challenge for me is to not view these down days as backslides – to not feel as if my old symptoms are returning, but to simply brush them off. Therein lies the next step. Learn to trust my system again, rather than being a slave to it.