Like how it’s time for another round of test results. This time it’s double the fun because it’s test results for my daughter and me. We’ve both had a lot of GI problems the past year. A round of testing in the fall showed candida and bacterial problems for me along with the low SIgA issues I’ve had for years. My daughter had a parasitic infection and high markers for colonic inflammation. So I did some intensive probiotic supplementing, quercetin for food intolerances, and some dietary changes. She did a prescription anti-parasitic, an herbal antiparasitic, a probiotic and some dietary changes. Results show that I cleared the yeast and bacteria problems and the SIgA is now a bit less non-existent. Her results show that she still has the parasite and high inflammation. Neither of us feel any different.
So we’ll talk to the EI specialist and the family doctor and maybe the allergist again. Maybe we’ll try another pediatric gastroenterologist. Some of these doctors will insist that she does the prescription again, or that we both do a lower and upper endoscopy, or that we don’t worry about it at all. Then I will have to make another round of decisions on treatment. Here is an unfortunate truth – advocating for your own health is a constant job. After you’ve researched and interviewed and finally found some experienced physician with whom you’ve got a good rapport, you are still not done. You are never done with the researching and thinking and weighing your options and calculating cost vs benefit and making critical decisions. It’s exhausting.
In the interest of making the process a bit more streamlined, I have compiled a list of questions to ask whenever a physician wants to do tests, especially if he/she jumps right to expensive or invasive testing. Often there is no need for a fishing trip if the physician works through a complete medical history and is willing to have a thorough conversation about your concerns and needs. These admittedly time-consuming steps often rule out more issues than a test will.
What will this test confirm?
What will this test rule out?
What will we learn from the test that will determine or modify my treatment?
Will that treatment modification address the health issues that concern me the most?
What other test can tell us something similar?
What is another way we can rule out or confirm the same suspicions?
How precise is the test; will we have to repeat it?
How accurate is it; will we able to trust the results?
If the test results use a reference range, what population is it based on?
The tests from which I have learned the most are SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Panel and DiagnosTechs GI panel. My EI physician Dr Ziem relies heavily on the Spectracell blood test results to fine tune the neural sensitization biochemistry through my diet and supplements. This test measures how micronutrients are actually functioning within the white blood cells in contrast to serum level tests, which are not always representative indicators for how those nutrients are being metabolized. The GI panel is a saliva and stool sample collection that provides information on intestinal and immune system health; detecting the presence of yeast, bacteria, parasites, inflammatory biomarker levels, pancreatic digestive strength, and genetically inherited food intolerances through secretory IgA. During my initial health crisis and diagnosis, which came after years of working with organo-metallic gases, I relied heavily on urinalysis for toxic elements, but that was obviously a specific situation. I don’t think everyone in our chronic illness community has heavy metal toxicity, but I do believe we could all benefit from a reliable assessment of our nutrient levels and GI health.
So I will go talk to some doctors, make some decisions, and implement some new treatments into our lives. But I will also trust that I have done all the due diligence possible in the process so that at the end of the day, I can close up all my files, tabs, and windows on health issues and get back to what I am interested in.