IBS: My Gut Healing & Symptom-Free Journey

by | Jan 3, 2020 | Digestive Health, Inspiration

Today I’m sharing a gut health update: where I’m at today after years of struggling with post-infectious IBS from having a C. difficile infection 7 years ago.

Many of you know about the digestive struggles I’ve had over the years. If you’re not familiar with my full story you can read about it here, but for a brief overview, I had a gut infection known as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) back in 2012. While the infection was successfully eradicated through treatment, it wreaked havoc on my digestive system for years after, causing a diagnosis of post-infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Unfortunately, it also led to a severe IBS flare up in 2016 that involved chronic symptoms that took over 3 years for me to recover from.

Today I want to talk about my gut healing journey and where I’m at today — at the end of 2019 — after several years of coping with seemingly impossible-to-solve IBS symptoms and working diligently to get myself out of what was once a debilitating condition.

I am so far out of the darkness I was in that my level of gratitude for the health I now have is immeasurable. You really take health for granted when you have it. Or in my case, normal bowel movements.

Note: some of the information shared in this post is a wee bit descriptive of the symptoms I used to have. Just a heads up if you don’t like reading about toilet things!

Healing is not Linear

When my digestion was at its worst a few years ago (this was during my major flare up), I was waking up in the morning to urgent, nauseating diarrhea every single day, multiple times in a row. I also struggled with chronic abdominal pain, severe gas, the passage of mucus, hives, and an inability to tolerate many foods at all for nearly two consecutive years. It was unlike any degree of IBS discomfort I’d experienced in the past and to say I was distraught about my new standard of living would be an understatement. I had a very hard time coming to terms with it.

There were times when I really doubted that I’d ever recover or experience normal digestion again. My discomfort engulfed my life. It was all I thought about because my life became dictated by what I could or couldn’t eat, frequent trips to the bathroom, chronic pain, and anxiety about it all. My symptoms were so persistent that on days when I’d lose hope, it was unfathomable to me that I’d ever get better.

But fast forward to the beginning of 2018 when I started to make significant improvements from the work I’d been doing on repairing my gut. I was tolerating food more, having more good days in a row, experiencing less diarrhea and less gas. My food journal was filling up with more pages of “today my gut was perfect!” And “I had a normal bowel movement!” Or even better, “I’ve been symptom-free for a whole month!”

Ah, the joy of re-living those moments.

While I certainly had days when I felt immensely discouraged by a relapse in symptoms after one or two “good days” in a row along my healing journey, it became really important to me that I never lost hope and that I kept pushing onward. It was not a pleasant time in my life but maintaining a positive outlook as much as possible made the world of a difference. I knew my body could heal. It just needed the right tools and time to do its thing.

How I Healed My Gut

As a holistic nutritionist I knew to do some specific things and to do immense amounts of reading and research to try and understand every possible angle of what was going on inside my body, but I also underwent rigorous protocols with the help of other healthcare professionals throughout 2017 and 2018.

What I fundamentally needed was support in rebuilding the health of my microbiome which had taken a hit from the courses of antibiotics I had been on and the serious infection I had. My intestines were so sensitive and irritated and they, too, needed help to repair. This is what my “gut healing” journey consisted of.

For more information on the steps I took to heal my gut, you can read this blog post.

One of the most frustrating parts of my journey was that there were times when it seemed like nobody could help me. I followed many different recommendations that didn’t always help. Why? Because there are so many possible underlying factors, and also, because these things usually take time. I didn’t get better after one weekend of taking my probiotics. I didn’t address my dysbiosis — an imbalance of good:bad gut bacteria — in just a couple weeks. While eliminating a few trigger foods helped initially, I didn’t improve after just a couple days. The low FODMAP diet was an integral part of my symptom management later on in my journey, but I had to stick to it for a few months to really give my body the support it needed.

Where I’m At Today

It took me around a year to start noticing more significant improvements, but a total of around 3 years to have proper, good digestion on a regular basis again. That is not meant to be disheartening — if anything, I hope it gives you hope knowing that things simply take time. If you’re struggling, it’s important to keep in mind also that everyone’s digestive systems and gut health histories are different. This means that some may notice improvements rapidly because their underlying issues are easier to address, while others may take longer (like myself) because there’s more complexity involved (e.g. past infections!)

Today, the problems I used to experience everyday are now a blur; a thing of the past. 2019 was the year where I continued to make even more improvements, from okay digestion to pretty good to really good.

As I sit here typing this, I now experience:

  1. Normal, formed stools each day (by normal and formed I mean that I do not experience diarrhea anymore, nor do I experience loose stool. For a long time during my healing journey, I’d still deal with loose stool fairly regularly even after my diarrhea subsided)
  2. I no longer pass mucus! *applause*
  3. I don’t deal with chronic hives anymore! *also applause*
  4. My dietary range has returned to normal
  5. I’m still somewhat prone to getting more gassy than the average person from certain foods, but it’s no longer severe whatsoever. Most of the foods that were problematic for me in this way no longer are.

A few months ago I had a Comprehensive Stool Analysis done and after all I’d been through with my gut, I almost expected the results to show some kind of residual bacterial overgrowth, or even some C. diff toxin still present. But to my delight, my results came back very positively with no signs of harmful bacteria or parasites present, and certainly no C. diff. If anything, my results helped me see that my microbiome is thriving.

Do I Still Experience Symptoms?

Generally speaking, I would say no. But if I do, it’s occasional and it’s mild. If I go overboard with certain foods, if my stress levels get out of hand or if my sleep schedule is off, my gut isn’t gonna be particularly happy. But it’s very important to note here that nobody on this planet — regardless of how robust and healthy one’s gut may be — has perfect digestion 100% of the time. There will always be the odd time that something makes you feel off, or worse, makes you run to the toilet. It happens!

What matters most to me is that I no longer live in a state of daily discomfort. I enjoy food again. I can live my life. My ‘normal’ may be different than yours, or even different than what mine was when I was younger, but I’m no longer sick and I’ve reached a far better outcome than I ever could have imagined. I’m so proud and thankful to be where I am today.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into this subject for your own gut health, we cover all the specific strategies and foods for supporting and improving digestion in The Digestive Wellness Program, a 4-week self-paced online course I designed to help you reset and revive your gut.

The body is resilient, I can tell you that. No matter what health problem you’re facing, know that there are answers and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

by Meghan Livingstone

Note: this post may contain affiliate links. Learn more here.

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  1. Bernadette Furlong

    Hi Meghan, I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m 11 months past my cdiff infection, and still am experiencing some gut pain (although it’s better than it was) food intolerances, and loose stools. I don’t eat sugar, gluten or dairy, and mostly follow low fodmap. There are some foods that are low fodmap that I can’t tolerate (some veggies and fruit). I was beginning to think this was going to be my way of life forever and I’ve been very depressed. Reading your story gives me hope. I’m beginning work with a naturopath next week, and I’m praying she can help me. I didn’t realize that healing could take this long. Is there hope for me?

    • Meghan

      Hi Bernadette! I completely, wholeheartedly know the struggle you’re facing. It’s a scary place to not know if we’ll “ever get better”. You can definitely improve your gut health and it is wonderful you’re working with a Naturopath. It takes time! But never ever give up 🙂 And yes, there is hope! xoxo

  2. Jamie

    Hi Meghan – just wondering if you had difficulty tolerating fiber in your diet when you were in the initial stage of post infectious IBS?


    • Meghan

      Hi Jamie! Sorry for this late reply. Yes I did have difficulty digesting fibrous foods; although I had trouble digesting MOST foods in general. When I began following the low FODMAP diet for a while, that helped me a lot. Now I’m able to tolerate fibre much better 🙂

  3. Susan

    Hi Meghan, I am so glad to have found you! I had c-diff after the birth of my second child ( contracted from overuse of antibiotics while in hospital) This was 7 years ago and I still have on and off IBS. I don’t know anyone else who has had c-diff and my doctor was not very helpful. I have felt very much on my own trying to figure out why I can’ t tolerate certain foods or amounts of certain foods like everyone else can. I am still on my journey but I feel like things are a lot better but I can do better with my diet for sure. I am going to go binge watch your videos now…thank you for all your information/advice. It is much appreciated!


    • Meghan

      Hi Susan! I am so sorry to hear you’ve had to deal with C. diff, too. It’s such a scary and uncomfortable infection. I’m so happy that my story was of help in some way! Reach out if you have any questions 🙂

  4. Miguel

    This is a pretty inspirational story. I hope it’s true, because I’m pretty beaten and I don’t want to have false hopes. I was wondering if your urine had sediments in it while your gut was in bad shape? Like a bit cloudy but not candida or bacteria… just particles from food leaking into your body from your gut. I’m trying to get that to go away, because I’m worried that that is retarding my healing.

  5. Alicia

    “Healing is not linear” ahhhh I resonate with so much of this article!! It has taken 10+ years for me to heal my chronic constipation after bouncing in and out of so many different specialist offices.

    I’m so glad you are living relatively symptom free now – well done!

    I am finally on the right path now and it feels so good! I wrote about my journey too https://feedthatblonde.com/my-gut-health-journey/

  6. matina

    Hi Meghan,
    First of all, i am so glad you manage to cope with the psychological stress that come with problems in gut’s health and also thank you and congrats for sharing this. Your journey gives me hope to my chronic gut and digestion problem. In my case, it started in my first year in university at 2017. After my period my gut stopped working without taking laxatives and other medicine until now. My digestive system saw also affected, to the point that until now i can eat certain and only homemade foods. I dropped from 67 to 44 kilos, my hair started falling out, my period never came back until now. Those 4 years i still take laxatives in order to go to the toilet and pills to digest, and the last 2 years i struggle with mixed depression- anxiety disorder and anorexia. I really hope i can find a way to overcome this. The doctors cound not find the cause for my sudden intestinal dysfunction and they don’t know the solution and how long it would take to come back in it’s original state. I really hope it will actually go away at some point, i want to live without thinking what to eat or feeling a burden to my friends and family, and my consistent intestinal colic pain and bloating stops. Thank you idf you are reading this, keep going with your videos!! you are amazing!!


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Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, blogger, and YouTuber with a passion for healthy, simple living. I’m here to inspire you to listen to your body, eat mindfully and wholesomely, and create a fulfilling life that’s completely unique to you.