(Updates are at the very end of this post.)
In May, I wrote here about my chronic illness. Since then, everything has changed. In June, I cured my IBS and chronic fatigue with DIY fecal transplant, aka Fecal Microbiome Transplant, aka FMT. Which is gross, and weird, but also kind of amazing. And it worked.
(Everything you need to know about FMT, including detailed DIY instructions, can be found here- thepowerofpoop.com)
If you’ve never read my blog before, here’s a recap- In 2013, I walked from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was the first time I’d done anything very physical in my life, and I loved it. So in 2014, I hiked the PCT again. In 2015, I set out to walk from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide Trail. I was two months into this hike when everything changed.
I got giardia from drinking untreated groundwater. The doctor prescribed the antibiotic flagyl (metronidazole), and soon after finishing the antibiotic a dark sense of foreboding and fatigue that felt akin to the lead blanket that’s placed on you at the dentist’s office settled onto my shoulders, and it never left. Along with the chronic fatigue, I also developed IBS. I’d had digestive issues for years, but I’d always been able to manage these issues with light dietary restrictions (no gluten, dairy or soy). Now, along with gluten, dairy and soy, I couldn’t eat any grain, eggs or nuts without cramping and diarrhea. I began to follow the autoimmune paleo diet, which excluded these things as well, and this helped some, but I still had strange unspecified abdominal pain that came and went. I was also often dizzy and nauseous, especially if I tried to exercise, and constipated on the reg.
This wasn’t the first time I’d taken antibiotics, nor the first time I’d taken flagyl, but something about this combination of giardia + flagyl was the tipping point for my digestive system, and it was all downhill from there.
I finished hiking the Continental Divide Trail in September of that year, but the second half of the trail was not fun. Hiking, and exercise in general, had gone from something that consistently made me feel amazing to something that, about half the time, made me feel exhausted and sick. Over the next year I reluctantly dropped my physical activity level way down, and yet my health still continued to decline. In addition to the fatigue and IBS, inflammation appeared- my whole body would ache when I was stressed. I was occasionally feverish for no reason I could discern, or I would break out in hives. It was difficult to sleep well, yet if I got one minute less than eight hours each night I had flu-like symptoms the next day, and was hardly able to function. Even if I did sleep well, my chronic fatigue was often such that I needed to rest for an hour or two between each of the day’s activities- run an errand, lay in bed for an hour. Make food, lay in bed for an hour. Answer emails, lay in bed for an hour…
For that first year, I still had periods where I felt mostly normal, and I was able to twist my life around these. I was doing seasonal farm work as well as working as a writer, and when I felt sick I would work less, stop exercising, and rest as much as I could. This was actually enjoyable, at first. Who doesn’t want an excuse to lay on the couch all day, watching netflix? Eventually, my health would return and I would ride that wave, living my life as though I was healthy, until I had another flare.
Then, in late 2016, I had a particularly stressful month, and in the flare that came afterward, the brain fog appeared. I could bend my life around digestive issues, exhaustion, dizziness and gloom, but the brain fog was, by far, the most alarming set of physical symptoms I’d ever experienced in my life. Suddenly, I had difficulty organizing my thoughts. I couldn’t remember anything. I was confused. I couldn’t write. I could barely read. I couldn’t focus. The simplest tasks, like putting together supplies for a trip, were so overwhelming that I would cry. I felt like I had dementia, or was losing my mind, or both.
Also, the brain fog was embarrassing. Here is an example:
A friend of mine in Tucson, M, was waiting for her friend, S, to move to town, and into the spare room in her house. Each week when I talked with M I got an update about S- now she was on her way, she was almost here, she’d be here tomorrow. Finally S was moved in, and when I went over to M’s house, S was there. S and I talked for a good half hour- she’d moved into her room, she’d brought two kittens with her that she’d adopted on the way. She hadn’t had any car trouble on the cross-country drive. She’d already found a job at a restaurant! She was stoked to be in Tucson. I told her I was doing a training the next day for the organization that M and I both volunteered with.
“I’ll be at that training!” said S.
“Great,” I said. “I’ll see you there!”
The next day, during the lunch break halfway through the training, I walked around, introducing myself to people. I introduced myself to one young woman I’d never seen before.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Carrot.”
She looked at me like I was insane.
It was S.
Now it was early 2017, and my flares were growing progressively worse, and my periods of health more fleeting. There were entire weeks where I was too exhausted and low functioning to leave the house. I slowly scaled back all my activities, and began to self-isolate. For two years I’d been making my living as I writer, and several months previously I’d begun to volunteer with a humanitarian aid organization that did work around the US/Mexico border. Now each week there was less, and less, and less that I could do. The hours and minutes of my days were ruled by my black depression, my sense of impending doom, my leaden fatigue, my anxiety, my inflammation, my digestive issues, and my brain fog. I was having the worst mood swings of my life- even if I felt good now, in an hour I might feel awful, and I was constantly having to cancel the few plans I did make. I was still following an auto-immune paleo diet, I’d brought the level of stress in my life way, way down. I was getting acupuncture and I was taking an antimicrobial blend of chinese herbs called Thunder Pearls, as well as probiotics. These things lessened the intensity and duration of my flares, but overall, I was still trending downward.
Then, I had to take antibiotics for a deep dog bite. I didn’t want to take antibiotics again! But DIY wound care for a puncture wound that was very close to an artery was more responsibility than I wanted to take on. While on the antibiotics, I actually started to feel better. And once they were finished, I dropped into a flare so intense I could barely leave the house for an entire month.
I couldn’t write. I couldn’t volunteer. I couldn’t make plans. I could barely, just barely, walk my dog, but it left me so exhausted. I was making a small amount of money each month in royalties from my first book, and this is what I lived off of, unable to do any other freelance work or work towards finishing my next book. And yet, I was beyond lucky to have this little bit of money coming in. I have no idea how I would’ve survived otherwise. If I’d had a job outside of the house during this time, I definitely would’ve lost it.
I felt as though my life was over.
I was finally approved for medicaid in Arizona and had an appointment to see a general practitioner, and, after I described my symptoms, the doctor looked at me as though I was insane. I was only 34 and I wasn’t overweight, so how could I be sick? My blood tests and thyroid tests came back normal, which made the doctor even more dismissive. This, in turn, made me feel even more hopeless.
All around me was darkness, and I could no longer imagine a future. To quote a classic meme, nothing brought me pleasure any longer.
And while I was depressed, everyone else seemed depressed too. I mean, most of my friends do struggle with depression. The machinations of late-stage capitalism are attempting to destroy the last bits of what is right and good in the world, and this is a really hard time in human history to be alive. But, in spite of this, there is not only sadness. Humans (and other creatures) everywhere continue to experience joy, catharsis, contentment, inspiration… all manner of other things, in addition to/besides depression. At this point in my life, though, this was impossible for me to see. All I could see was sadness, sadness everywhere. Everyone and everything was sad, sad, sad. Sadness that had always been and always would be. If this is the embodiment, I thought, if this horrible nightmare of hopelessness is the sum total of embodiment, then what even is the fucking point.
One day in the midst of this terrible bleakness, I found myself describing my health struggles to a friend.
“I know someone who used to have a lot of the same symptoms as you,” she said. “And then she did a fecal transplant, and now she’s cured.”
The sound of a record stopping.
In the realm of chronic illness, “cured” is not a word that you hear. You hear “managed”, you hear “learned to live with”. You hear “in recession”. You do not hear “cured”. But the wild thing about this roller coaster ride called embodiment is that when you least expect it, things will turn on a dime. And this was that moment for me.
The next time I had a bit of energy I did some googling and found the website thepowerofpoop.com. I learned that the microbiome in one’s gut consists of around 1,000,000,000,000,000 (what even is that number) bacterial cells, which is about 10 times the amount of human cells in a body. I learned that while we have yet to fully understand the myriad species that exist within a human gut microbiome or what each species does, exactly, we do know that there are a heck of a lot of them and that they are necessary and helpful for things like digesting food, making nutrients available, protecting the gut lining, holding territory against invaders and producing serotonin. There are even fungus and viruses that play a helpful role in ways we have yet to understand! Antibiotics, especially broad spectrum antibiotics like flagyll, are like atom bombs in your colon- they wipe out large numbers of important species at once- maybe hundreds of different species! And once these helpful bacteria are gone, bad bacteria can take over, causing imbalances and making you super fucking sick. When this happens, it’s called gut dysbiosis. I imagined the colon as a mature forest- the indigenous plants and fungi work in concert with one other, holding the soil in place, moving nutrients around, breaking things down. If the forest is damaged or clearcut, invasive species can move in, choking out everything else. One would think that one’s microbiome could be healed with cultured foods and probiotics- but these contain, at best, half a dozen species, and these might not even make it all the way down to your colon. In our current dystopia of antibiotic overuse, one needs something more powerful than probiotics, something with all of the original species intact. One needs… poop.
Ten times more bacterial cells than human cells. What even are we. I imagined bacteria on swivel chairs behind my eyeballs, pulling giant levers, making my arms go up and down.
I imagined a village, bombed almost out of existence.
The original occupants, who carefully tended the land and lived in harmony with the earth, are gone. A roving band of derelict cannibals squats the half-burned buildings. They’ve strip-mined all the surrounding area, and burned the forests. The runoff from their mines leaks into the rivers, poisoning them. They’ve hunted all the animals to extinction. Everything in every direction around these villages is barren and dead. The cannibals are the only ones who can still survive in this toxic, blackened world. While these derelict cannibals have always existed, normally they would live in small, isolated groups far out in the hills, and most of the land would be occupied by the Original Creatures. But the Original Creatures are gone, killed by a bomb long ago, and only the cannibals live here now.
Worlds within worlds within worlds.
I learned from thepowerofpoop.com that if one has gut dysbiosis and one finds a donor whose microbiome is intact and makes a slurry of this person’s poop and gives oneself an enema with this slurry, one can re-introduce all of the original and necessary microorganisms that one is missing and possibly restore one’s health. There’s a “success stories” section of the site that’s organized by disease (here), and I read all of the IBS stories. Twice. Then I read them three times. Ok, full disclosure, I read them all five times. (I also really like this success story.) I felt a small candleflame of hope flicker on within my cold, dead heart.
It’s afternoon, siesta time, when the cannibals’ huts begin to burn. They’ve just drifted off in their hammocks when the smoke comes wafting in the open windows. The cannibals spring up and rush outside as the thatched roofs burst into flames, hot and red against the hazy 2pm sun. Alarmed and confused, they crowd in the center of the village. They’re not sure what’s happening, and then they see them- the Original Creatures. They’re astride their horses just beyond the last house, loading another round of flaming arrows into their bows. Their children sit on the backs of the horses, watching the huts burn. They’ve got their domesticated animals with them, and their carts piled high with burlap sacks of seeds. They’ve come to replant the forests and the fields. They’ve come to take back their land.
According to the website, I needed to find a fecal donor with good digestion, regular bowel movements, a limited history of antibiotic use, and no parasites, food intolerances, acne, anxiety, depression, or mood swings, as these things can all be indicative of gut dysbiosos. Well, I thought. That rules out pretty much everyone I know. Also, even if I did find someone who qualified, why would they want to give me their poop, so that I could squirt it into my butt? It was all just so… gross.
The universe works in amazing ways (although that can be really, really hard to remember when you feel like total ass nearly all of the time) and as it turns out, as soon as I started talking to friends about how I wanted to do a fecal transplant, people started to volunteer, and within a week I had two potential donors who each met the criteria for good poops. In a few days I was leaving Tucson to spend the summer on the west coast, and one of my potential friend donors was going to be in Petaluma, California, staying at her parents’ place. It would make total sense to pass through on my way to Oregon and we could do the transplant there, she said.
Everything seemed to be working out and yet, the small candle of possibility had died inside me, as I simply did not have the physiological and emotional health to maintain any sort of hope, about anything. I was still waking up exhausted each morning, attempting to get shit done (packing, moving out of my house, putting all in order for my trip) while navigating black, heavy fatigue, dizziness, digestive issues, brain fog and the most insane mood swings. Hanging with friends was excruciating- for an hour, maybe, I would be ok, and then suddenly all stimulus would become overwhelming, and the sound of other peoples’ voices would be like nails on a chalkboard. I would retreat to my dim, sweltering house and lay on the couch with a mason jar of icewater, cringing in my own personal hell. An unshakeable sense of impending doom hung over everything. There was no future, that much was certain. How could I possibly have hope?
The quiet solitude of long-distance driving through beautiful country was soothing, and even if I didn’t feel hope as I headed west, I did feel a sense of peace. I camped the first night amongst joshua trees on a dirt forest service road in Nevada, and walked my dog through the desert as the sun set over the mountains. The next morning I felt good enough to go for a very small run, and it felt exhilarating to be in my body again. I was able to pretend, for a moment, that everything was alright, but afterwards my body ached so badly, as one’s body does when one has chronic inflammation and one attempts to exercise, that I could barely keep driving, and every hour or so I had to pull off the highway to lay down on the bed in the back of my van and rest. This was nice though, too- lying in my shaded van in the desert afternoon, reading the copies of the New Yorker I’d stockpiled for the trip, small dog curled against my side. There, again, was that elusive sense of peace.
Driving through Death Valley brought back memories of the time, in 2014, that I’d hiked from Badwater Basin to the top of Mt. Whitney with some friends- The Lowest to Highest Route. One of the hardest hikes in the world, and I had loved every minute of it. (I wrote about it here and here.) There was Telescope Peak, still dusted in snow, now, in early june- a ten thousand foot climb over fourteen miles, cross-country, and by the time we’d reached the top I was so high on endorphins I felt as though I could fly. We hadn’t brought enough water for the climb, and were pretty dehydrated by the time we reached the hidden spring in Tuber Canyon, on the other side in the dark. Every night of the L2H we had either hiked late, woke before the sun, or there were some sort of insects that wanted to drink the moisture in our eyeballs- and so for six days, we barely slept. It was fun, though. We became one with the lonely beautiful desert and it was so, so, so fun.
I was relieved when I reached Lone Pine, not only because the temperature gauge in my van had stressed me out a bit on the steep, narrow highway through Death Valley. Remembering the time when my body worked the way it was supposed to made me feel so sad, and I wasn’t trying to feel sad right then. I don’t need to be able to climb Telescope Peak again, I said to myself. I just want to be able to walk my dog without feeling as though there are lead weights tied to my ankles. But they were one and the same, weren’t they? I was either sick, or I wasn’t. And I was sick. This was where I was at, and there was no changing it. No hope, no hope, no hope.
A few days later I arrived at my friend’s parents’ beautiful house in Petaluma. The weather was cool here, near the sea, it even rained a little. At walgreens I’d picked up everything on the shopping list from the Power of Poop website (here), with a few modifications- I wanted to be able to throw everything away after each enema, instead of having to wash things for reuse, because that, to be honest, is fucking gross, so I got disposable fleet enema bottles, the kind with the saline solution inside, with the intention of emptying the solution out and using the bottle, instead of a hanging enema bag. I knew that, in theory, a hanging enema bag would move the solution farther up my colon, but I’d also read online reports of people having success with the bottles, and I just really, really didn’t want to have to touch poop any more than absolutely necessary. I got latex gloves, as well. No touching poop for me!
I slept badly in the quiet indoors and the next morning, June 7th, 2017, I woke up feeling horrible, per usual; chalk full of dread and exhaustion. Well, I thought. Here goes nothing. We had breakfast and hung around waiting for my friend to have a bowel movement, which was funny. At last she pooped into a tupperware, which was also funny, and I set everything up in her bathroom- doubled gallon ziploc bags, paper towels, etc. (I won’t go into more detail here about my process to spare you the grossness, but I basically followed the DIY instructions on the Power of Poop website to the letter, except for using disposable enema bottles instead of a hanging enema bag, and I chose to use plain tap water instead of saline or distilled. Read those instructions here.)
Everything was done and in the trash by mid afternoon, and a few hours later we decided to go out for thai food. The inside of the thai restaurant was quiet and peaceful, and when my yellow curry arrived, it was incredible. That first spoonful of the warm, spiced coconut milk with vegetables and chicken was, somehow, one of the most pleasurable things I’d ever experienced.
“This is the best yellow curry I’ve ever had,” I said to my friend, surprised. I looked around at the low tables, the other diners murmuring quietly, the mirrors on the walls. “This thai restaurant is amazing. Is your food this good?”
“Mine’s alright,” said my friend.
“I feel happy for no reason,” I said. It was true. But probably, I figured, it was the curry. This incredible, incredible, curry!
Next, we drove to the ocean. And, I mean, have you ever driven to the ocean? Better yet, have you ever driven to the ocean on a winding country road with the windows down? While listening to pop music? In the fog? Because, I tell you, it is incredible. It is beyond incredible. It is euphoric! And then, I mean, the fucking ocean! There are so many things happening, sensory-wise, at the ocean. There are smells, and air, and the sea itself, all calm and knowing, and more fog, and sand, and one’s dog being free, and wet stacks of sea-soaked rocks to climb over. And if you are there with a friend! My god, have you even ever had a friend? Because I tell you, having a friend, especially at the sea with the waves doing things and also a dog along with you, is amazing. I mean, human connection at the fucking ocean! Have you ever even hung out with another human? Really talked to another person? Because it is just beyond.
We walked along the wonderfully-textured sand with its ribbons of pleasing detritus talking and laughing, and the waves made charming splashing noises as they moved in and out amongst the nice rocks, and the warm-cool sea air caressed my skin the way I imagine it caresses the skin of people in romance novels.
“I feel happy for no reason, I feel happy for no reason,” I kept repeating. And in my mind, I said to myself It’s probably just because it’s fun to hang out with a friend at the ocean, nevermind the fact that for the past 2.5 years off and on, and for the past six months consistently, I’d been unable to have “fun” at all, no matter what the circumstances, and every time I’d tried to have “fun” it had felt as though I had no skin, and sensory stimulus was physically painful, to the point that I’d decided that “fun” wasn’t even real, and was some sort of cruel joke that popular culture had invented to torture all of us.
That night I went to bed happy but still, more or less, without hope. I mean, what were a few good hours, really? In the face of everything?
I slept for eight complete hours minus getting up once to pee and when I woke in the morning not only was I not exhausted, but this world, this new world into which I’d woken, didn’t seem like such an overwhelming place after all.
Waking up not just rested, but happy?
The morning doomcloud of dread which had informed so much of my life was, inexplicably, gone.
This. Was fucking. Insane.
“I’m cured!” I said to my friend. “I’m cured I’m cured I’m cured I’m cured!!” This was, I knew, preemptive, but I didn’t care. My own good attitude, this morning, was irresistible, and I didn’t try to fight it. I just felt so fucking good. Not only could I not remember the last time I had felt this good, I had completely forgotten that feeling this good was even a THING. But, dear reader, it is. It fucking is.
My magic new feeling wasn’t edgy-good, anxious-good, manic-good, or any other sort of shaky good that would come and then be gone in a blink of an eye, dropping me lower than I had been before. My new feeling wasn’t mood-swingy good. It was a solid, down deep good, like a cold volcanic lake in the middle of a huge forest, like a steel pole ran through my body straight into the center of the earth, like this good had always been here and would never go away again. And the very best part? The very best and most unexpected part of all of it?
My mood swings were gone.
My mood swings, which yanked me with clocklike precision from anxious to sad to fearful to sleepy and back again, were gone. My mood swings, which randomly dumped shame, regret, and/or foreboding in my lap when I least expected it. My mood swings, which dredged up bad memories when I was trying to, like, hang out at a party, or shop for groceries, or walk my dog, and played them over and over again in my head, until I was exhausted. The mood swings which destabilized me until I didn’t know what was real anymore, and what was coming from my own broken body. My mood swings.
Were fucking gone.
(One month later, my mood swings still haven’t come back. My mood hath not swung one single time since that first fecal transplant.)
The day after my first fecal transplant, I did another. My goal was (is) to do ten transplants total, as that is a number that other IBS sufferers, whose accounts I’ve read online, have had success with. While it’s been shown via science that fecal transplants are helpful for a variety of conditions rooted in gut dysbiosis, c-diff is the only condition that’s shown to have a high success rate with just one transplant. And even with c-diff, doing two treatments will give you an even more stellar success rate than one. A fecal transplant is, in essence, a super-probiotic, and doing multiple treatments gives the bacteria more opportunities to take root. It’s also shown to be helpful to have multiple donors, as different people carry different combinations of species and you get even more gut diversity this way, and have a better chance of replacing key species you might be missing. It’s the pokemon of gut microbes and you’ve gotta #catchemall, as they say.
My second fecal transplant was uneventful, and I continued to feel, weirdly and amazingly, cured. My fatigue had lifted, gone like a storm in the night, the sky blown empty and clear. I looked around me, at this brand new world I had been born into. This world, this life that was so hard, so hard for all of us, but hard, now, in a rewarding, heartening, almost tearfully beautiful way, and why hadn’t I been able to see that before? The human struggle, our struggle, was beautiful beyond belief, and I had, suddenly, the beating heart and the good blood to live this life. To face the constant deluge of bullshit that each day brings, and to see, through all of it, the beauty. My “new” self felt familiar- it was the me of three years ago, the me of five years ago. I felt as though time was moving backwards, and all the stories I’d told myself while I was sick- that my life was over, that I’d lost everything, that there was no hope left in this world- all these stories started to fall away- and I felt turned around and upside down and as though I no longer understood anything anymore. What was sickness, and what was health? What was real, and what was not? And was putting poop in my butt really all that it took to give myself the will to live again? How strange and surreal was that. And did it really matter, if nothing made sense to me? I felt alive in my body again, did I really have to understand?
I left Petaluma and my incredibly generous donor friend and drove north through the redwoods, en route to Oregon to spend some time working on a friend’s farm. My plan was to space the fecal transplants out over the summer, and continue to find more donors as I visited friends. Although I felt good now, I had no idea if the feeling would last. Along with atom-bombing one’s microbiome with antibiotics, and killing species that way, stress and trauma can create environments in our guts in which helpful bacteria have a difficult time staying alive. This is why stress management is so important in maintaining longterm gut health. But we can only control so much of what comes into our lives- existence throws us curveballs of stress and trauma. They say it takes a full year for one’s new gut bacteria to take root, and there are anecdotal reports of people who’ve had success with FMT but then had a traumatic or stressful event within the first year and have lost their new microbes, after which their chronic illness returned.
If there’s anything I’d learned in the two and a half years I’d been bringing the activity level in my life down lower and lower, it’s that the amount of stress that the average american takes on is fucking insane. Of course, we all have to navigate capitalism. We all have to hustle. But we place so much social capital on being busy, on productivity, on not even having one single bit of chill, and it’s fucking bonkers. We can’t remove all stress or trauma from our lives- life is suffering, after all- but we can prioritize cultivating better coping mechanisms and stop placing value in productivity above all other things. Having a chronic illness wherein one single drop of stress or five minutes of sleep deprivation could send me into a flare of IBS and chronic fatigue had made me very, very aware of the sources of stress in my life, how that stress felt in my body, and the ways in which I could manage my response.
Basically, meditation. Meditation, I’d found, helped me manage my response to stress more than anything. I resolved to get more serious about integrating a meditation practice in my life, something I’d been trying to do off and on for a year. And if I did somehow, in spite of stress management, still have a gut environment in which good bacteria were unable to thrive, or if a traumatic event killed them all off within the first year? Hopefully it wouldn’t come to this, and I’d be able to cultivate my own healthy gut universe that could withstand many things. But if not, I was willing to do fecal transplants every month for the rest of my life. If that was what it took. For now, though, I would start with 10. And see what happened after that.
That night I parked my van in a less-than-ideal spot and slept poorly, worried about being towed. In the morning, even though I’d slept less than eight hours, I felt good. This was unprecedented, as when I was sick, sleep deprivation would automatically trigger a flare. But not today, not in this heartening new world into which I now woke. I had no fatigue, no brain fog, no crushing depression, no digestive issues. I found a nature trail along a creek and went on a slow, loping, six-mile run in the heat, my chihuahua padding along beside me. The run felt great. Afterwards, I continued driving, and I had no pain or inflammation. At no point, that day, as I continued north into Oregon, did I think “I just need to lay down for an hour”. My constant need to rest was, amazingly, gone.
I kept running. I was no longer in the great running shape I had been at other times of my life, but running felt good again, thank god, and I knew I would get stronger. I worked on my friend’s farm in Oregon, and working felt good again, too. I found another friend willing to donate, and I did four more transplants. I didn’t feel 100% every day, some days I felt 80%, but that seemed normal. I definitely still got sleepy faster than my 25 year-old friends, but as I was 34, this seemed normal too. I no longer felt eighty, and that was the most important thing. I felt solid and strong, and each week I continued to improve. I even had one really stressful week- my dog was super sick, and I didn’t know why (he’s fine now, thx)- and still my health did not break, my chronic illness did not return. It’s 7/9/17 as I write this- a little over a month since my first transplant- and I’m still cured. I’ll continue to post monthly updates here, as time goes on.
The forest is back, now, with its dense tangles of plants, animals and fungi, and the Original Creatures move amongst it, harvesting food and scattering seeds, their babies in slings on their backs. The rivers and air are clean once again, and everything is as it should be. It’s been a good century (bacteria time), and so many new generations have come and gone that you’d be hard pressed, these days, to find someone who remembers the time when things were barren. The Original Creatures carry spears as they walk the forest- not just for hunting, but in case they happen upon a band of cannibals. The cannibals are rare, now, and some of the Original Creatures have never even seen one, and don’t believe that they exist. What could threaten this perfect life, this world of abundance? And yet they stay alert anyway, as they dig up tubers from the rich dark soil. They’ve heard too many stories from the elders to relax completely, and they’re ready to defend this land again, should they need to.
Here’s a graph I made of my mood changes with FMT:
Update 8/16/17- It’s been 2 months and 9 days since my first FMT. I’m still cured of my IBS and chronic fatigue. I just finished hiking 500 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail through Washington, and I feel awesome! My inflammation and fatigue related to exercise has not returned. I’ve done 8 FMTs towards my goal of 10, with 3 different donors. As far as diet goes I’ve been able to move from autoimmune paleo to regular paleo with no ill effects, which is more liberating than it sounds. And I’ve been slowly reintroducing (gluten-free) grains, eating them every few days- and each week I seem to tolerate them a little better. I’ll update again in two months, or earlier if my CFS/IBS symptoms return.
Update 4/24/18- Still cured, 10 months after my first transplant. No IBS or CFS symptoms. I’ve done 11 transplants total, the last one months ago, and feel as though their work is done. I can now eat everything but gluten!
Update 12/14/18- Still cured, 1.5 years after my first transplant. My health, in particular my mental health and gut health, keep getting better and better. I can’t remember when my last FMT was. FMT rules!