An Exact Breakdown Of The $1,100 I’ve Spent Trying To Cure My Stomach Issues Over The Past 2 Years

For the past two years, I have struggled with unknown digestive issues. I had never before experienced such constant constipation and bloating. For a year and a half, doctors dismissed my complaints of, “This is not normal. Something is wrong,” by telling me to eat more fiber, exercise more, and drink more water. These were all things I was doing (and tracking in a food/exercise/water/poop journal), but no one wanted to listen.

In August, I met with a naturopath who looked at my 13 months of notes about what went in and out of my body. She heard my concerns and worked with me to recommend different possibilities as to what was causing my body to turn against me so.

Here’s a complete breakdown* of what I’ve spent (so far) on my journey for gut answers:

*Note that all amounts listed here are in CAD unless otherwise noted

March 2017

I am constipated for a week and think it is due to a hemorrhoid flare-up.

Hermoval (oral pill): $23.72

Total spent so far: $23.72 CAD ($17.79 USD)

April 2017

The Hermoval doesn’t work, and thinking it’s still hemorrhoids causing my constipation, I buy Preparation H. I see a doctor at a walk-in clinic and he writes me a prescription for a hemorrhoid cream he says is “stronger than the over-the-counter stuff” and tells me to buy Metamucil. I cry over Easter weekend because my stomach is so distended. I see another doctor a few days later and he tells me to get more fiber.

Preparation H: $15.24

Prescription Cream: $10.10 (this was on my old insurance, so I’m not sure how much I saved, probably ~$20)

Metamucil: $22.59

Total spent so far: $71.65 CAD ($53.74 USD)

May 2017

I go away with my friends for the May long weekend and change my diet of smoothie bowls and salads for burgers and alcohol. My stomach and bowel movements momentarily return to normal?

Preparation H: $12.98

Total spent so far: $84.63 CAD ($63.47 USD)

June 2017

I’ve noticed that I have proper bowel movements the mornings after I drink alcoholic ciders.

Alcoholic Ciders: $13.40

Total spent so far: $98.03 CAD ($73.52 USD)

July 2017

I see a different walk-in clinic doctor who prescribes me Constella, a pill that fights constipation by increasing fluid in the digestive tract.

Constella: $45.60 (this was on my old insurance so I’m not sure how much I saved, but likely ~$300)

Preparation H and Laxatives: $26.23

Alcoholic Ciders: $5.90

Total spent so far: $175.76 CAD ($131.82 USD)

August 2017

I get my own doctor by having a coworker and her sister tell their doctor that I am their cousin who has just moved to the city. My new doctor tells me to buy laxatives.

Alcoholic Ciders: $10.60

Laxative: $13.55

Total spent so far: $199.91 CAD ($149.93 USD)

September 2017

I travel to the west coast to my friend Nathalie, and my stomach looks like I am carrying a child. We spend the weekend talking about our poops. Fun fact about Nathalie: in our youth, we went to Paris and thought it would be fun to poop in the washroom at every big attraction. Eiffel Tower? Pooped there. Arc de Triumph? Pooped there. Ohhh what I wouldn’t give to return to 2011!

Alcoholic Ciders: $22.80

Total spent so far: $222.71 ($167.03 USD)

October 2017

I change up hemorrhoid cream brands! I buy a pre & probiotic powder called “Regular Girl” that claims it’ll keep ya regular! I start on probiotics! My grandma tells me to try mineral oil! My aunt tells me to try molasses! I buy a detox tea for my bloat! I attend a “Banish Bloating: A Naturopathic Guide to Overcoming IBS” talk!

Anusol: $12.74

Probiotics and Regular Girl powder: $50.09

Detox Tea: $10

Mineral Oil: $10.16

Molasses: $4.19

Total spent so far: $309.89 CAD ($232.42 USD)

November 2017

Most of my spending this month was included in my grocery bill, so hard to say what exactly it was I spent it on. But we can all imagine it was prunes (recommended by a co-worker), rapini (recommended by my boss), and the ingredients for a great laxative fruit spread as given to me by my friend’s mom.

December 2017

Probiotics: $22.02

Anusol: $11.85

Total spent so far: $343.76 CAD ($257.82 USD)

January 2018

My apartment gets bed bugs this month, and for 4 days I’m so stressed and nervous all I do is drink coffee, eat no food, and stress poop a LOT. My stomach is finally not bloated for these 4 blissful, bug-filled days. My dad’s girlfriend saw a picture I posted of my abs and said if bed bugs will give her “a body like that” then she’d gladly take them.

Probiotics: $28.24

Regular Girl powder: $36.15

Total spent so far: $408.15 CAD ($306.11 USD)

February 2018

I have my first appointment with a Gastroenterologist. When I tell her I’ve been reading online and I think it may have something to do with bacteria in my gut she tells me, “Probably not. You’re probably just stressed.” She doesn’t want to see my months of notes. I get an ultrasound, give a stool sample, and have some blood taken.

March 2018

My doctor tells me to switch to an IBS specific probiotic. (Months later, my naturopath will say, “What?? Why did she tell you do go on that?? That’s for people who have diarrhea-prone IBS.”)

Align Probiotic: $45.19

Total spent so far: $453.34 CAD ($340.00 USD)

April 2018

I read that moringa powder has lots of fiber and iron.

Regular Girl powder: $28.92

Moringa powder: $7.55

Align Probiotic: $50.84

Total spent so far: $540.65 CAD ($405.49 USD)

May 2018

My ultrasound showed a small cyst on one of my ovaries, but apparently, they come and go with your menstrual cycle. I have a follow-up ultrasound, and the cyst is gone. I have a recital for my stand up comedy class and do a hot five minutes about how I always look like I’m pregnant. It’s a hard sell, though, because I was so nervous I pooped seven times that day. I debate making this my new career.

Align Probiotic: $41.82

Total spent so far: $582.47 CAD ($436.85 USD)

June 2018

Anusol: $14.11

Total spent so far: $596.58 CAD ($447.44 USD)

July 2018

Align Probiotic: $33.89

Total spent so far: $630.47 CAD ($472.85 USD)

August 2018

A new IBS product comes on the market! They are little capsules full of peppermint balls that you take 30 minutes before eating and are supposed to help with bloating. They work okay, but mainly just make any gas I pass have a minty tingle. I’ve included a hole-in-the-wall dumpling restaurant in this month because I immediately get diarrhea after and I’ve never been so excited.

IBS Gard: $40.67

Dumpling House: $15

Total spent so far: $686.14 CAD ($514.61 USD)

September 2018

I see a naturopath for the first time, and she thinks I might have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and wow BIG SURPRISE, I do!! She also recommends a product called IBS Relief which is a guar gum based (fiber) powder to add to beverages. I literally go to another dumpling restaurant and hope I get diarrhea (I don’t).

Initial Naturopath Appt: $205 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

SIBO Test: $150

Align Probiotics: $63.27

IBS Relief: $15.81

Meet Dumplings: $15.58

Total spent so far: $930.80 CAD ($698.10 USD) 

October 2018

My doctor refuses to prescribe me the antibiotic my naturopath says can help kill the SIBO. Because of this denial, I have to take the naturopath cure. Sadly, naturopathic pills aren’t covered by insurance. I finish my food journal and have to buy some new ones.

Naturopath Appt: $80 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

Bio Film (pill): $64.35

LIVCO (pill): $53.10

New food journals: $15.75

IBS Relief: $15.81

Total spent so far: $1,079.81 CAD ($809.86 USD)

November 2018

My naturopath gives me a bunch of pills. After December, I will do two weeks of liver pills, then 2 weeks of 3 pills, then 2 weeks of another 3 pills, then 2 weeks of another 3 pills to hopefully eradicate the SIBO.

Naturopath Appt: $80 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

Naturopathic Pills: $131.59

IBS Relief: $15.81

Total spent so far: $1,227.21 CAD ($920.41 USD)

December 2018

I see another GI who tells me to get celiac testing done. She also writes me a prescription for the SIBO antibiotic (which I haven’t filled yet, as it’s about $500 and not covered by insurance) and for Constella. I get acupuncture for digestion.

Celiac Test: $60

Preparation H: $11.76

Naturopath Appt: $80 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

Initial Acupuncture Appt: $110 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

Total spent so far: $1,298.97 CAD ($974.23 USD)

January 2019

Come mid-Jan I have finished 8 weeks of naturopathic pills and start on a 30-day SIBO elimination diet.

IBS Relief: $15.81

Vita Aid (pills): $63.22

Naturopath Appt: $25 ($55 was covered by insurance)

Total spent so far: $1,403 CAD (1,052.25 USD)

February 2019

The re-introductory period has my stomach freaking out with bloat again.

Naturopath Appt: $80 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

Acupuncture: $65 (fully covered by insurance, so $0)

Vita Aid (pills) $63.22

Constella: $11.99 ($354.73 was covered by insurance)

Total spent so far: $1,478.21 CAD ($1,108.66 USD)

March 2019

I am 18 days into reintroduction. My naturopath said if I relapse in the first 6 days, it’s a sign the SIBO is still there, but if it happens from day 7 onwards, it may be a FODMAP intolerance. I meet with her again in a few days and we’ll figure out phase 2. I am attending the inaugural event for a Toronto-based gut health instagram (@thegutgazette) where we will do some mediation and movement for digestion.

Gut Gazette: $43.45

IBS Relief: $31.62

Total spent to date: $1,553.28 CAD ($1,166.06 USD)

I have become the kind of person who talks about my digestion and my bowel movements loudly and proudly. Almost every time I mention my problems, someone (whether I know them or not) turns to me to confide that they have been having some stomach/poop issues lately. Why are we all keeping this a secret! Why are we suffering behind closed doors!! Ladies! Be loud and proud of your gut issues. Hopefully, you don’t find yourself in a similar ordeal as me, but if you are struggling, reach out to someone. Mental health and gut health are so closely linked that if you’re feeling stressed then it’ll only serve to lengthen your recovery rate. After all, how are we going to be able to “trust our gut” if we don’t care for it?

Hailey is a homebody. Follow her social medias @hailmast.

Image via Unsplash

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