Pushing my plate away, I rubbed my swollen tummy.
‘I look six months pregnant,’ I moaned to my mate.
‘The same thing happens to me when I eat pasta,’ she said.
She was trying to be sympathetic but I wanted to scream.
What I was feeling was so much worse than being a bit bloated. It was excruciating. And all I’d eaten was chicken and veg.
My problems had started back in high school. First, I developed intolerances to dairy and wheat, then eggs and lentils. My stomach would go rock hard and sometimes I couldn’t poo for a week. Tests for Crohn’s or coeliac disease came back negative. In the end, doctors diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome.
It might sound gross, but I didn’t care. I would’ve tried anything.
‘It’s more than that,’ I cried, frustrated. ‘I feel like all my organs are being compressed.’ I couldn’t even eat a banana without my belly ballooning and pains ripping through my middle.
Last year, I was referred to a specialist who took a stool sample to analyse the levels of bacteria in my gut. The results showed an imbalance – there were too few beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of bad bacteria. And it had a name – dysbiosis. ‘Finally!’ I said. ‘So how do we treat it?’
The doctor explained I needed a course of antibiotics to kill all the bacteria. Then they’d do a fecal microbiota transplant. It meant donated poo would be put inside me to replace the good bacteria.
A poo transplant! It might sound gross, but I didn’t care. I would’ve tried anything.
This May, I had a colonoscopy and a healthy stool sample was placed inside me. Over the next few weeks, I used an enema kit at home to insert another nine.
Amazingly, the poo procedure has already changed my life.It’s not a quick fix but I’m sleeping better and have more energy. I can’t believe I was saved by poo!
What is fecal microbiota transplant (FMT)
➜ Stool is collected from a tested donor, mixed with saline or other solution and strained.
➜ It’s placed in a patient by colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or enema.
➜ The purpose is to replace good bacteria that has been killed or suppressed, usually by the use of antibiotics.
➜ The success rate is estimated to be well over 90 per cent.
If you would like to help emma, go to www.gofundme.com/emstransplant
This story was originally published in that's life! Issue 24, 9 June 2016.