This is my account of receiving a Fecal Microbiota Transplant for IBS/SIBO/gut dysbiosis at the Taymount Clinic in Hitchin, England.
My treatment plan was 5+5, which means that I received 5 implants at the clinic and did the other 5 myself at home.
Read here why I decided to try FMT (and be part of the research)
The months leading up to my FMT treatment at the Taymount Clinic I decided to do a bit more testing and resolve any remaining issues that could negatively impact the treatment.
I tested for SIBO, H.pylori and thyroid hormone. My thyroid turned out to be under-active and the hydrogen levels on my breath test were elevated, which pointed to bacterial overgrowth in the upper gut. Luckily I tested negative for h.pylori. All digestive juices and enzymes also seemed to be low.
Therefore I just decided to try anything to resolve all these issues as quickly as possible.
I took adrenal and thyroid glandulars for the hypothyroidism.
Moreover, I tried the liver and gallbladder flush a few times and started taking betaine hcl, digestive bitters and enzymes to sort out my digestive fluids. I couldn’t afford to retest for SIBO but my symptoms seemed to improve as did my thyroid (I’ll be blogging about these issues soon).
The clinic also requires every patient to go through a preparation period.
To prepare for FMT I had to start taking a stool softener (Oxyklenz) a month prior to treatment. Ten days before treatment start I had to have a colonic irrigation and then take a laxative (picolax/moviprep) 2-3 days before traveling to the clinic. This is to make sure the colon is nice and clean so that the microbes can colonize.
I had no problems with the preparation though the colonic wasn’t very pleasant as I was pretty impacted.
There didn’t seem to be much left after that so the picolax was nowhere near as bad as expected.
Generally though I felt like all the ‘flushing’ had taken a bit of a toll – I lost some weight, my skin and hair got worse again and my cycle became irregular. However, I was really excited to finally meet my new microbes (if a bit nervous)!
For some reason I was pretty nervous when I arrived at the clinic. But this soon eased as the staff at the clinic were really friendly and caring and really took their time.
To start with, I had to have another colonic irrigation to make sure my colon was clean. It was easier than the last one but gave me extreme cramps.
The treatment itself was pretty straightforward and didn’t take long.
A catheter was administered and then the first implant went in, followed by a saline solution to push the microbes further up the colon.
This was followed by an abdominal massage to help the implant spread throughout the colon. It was slightly tender but the cramps that had started after the colonic disappeared.
Then I had to lie in different positions for half an hour to let the microbes spread and colonize throughout the large intestine. I noticed a strange warm sensation in my gut.
After the treatment I felt slightly drained and tired. The clinic advised to keep the implant in as long as possible and I managed to retain it until the next day.
Throughout the day I felt tired and headachy and there was quite a bit of rumbling going on in my gut.
I decided to feed the new bugs straight away so I had some roasted and cooled RS3-rich potatoes (i hadn’t eaten any starches in over a year!) and the Bimuno (the prebiotic recommended by the clinic).
There was some more rumbling and bloating going on at bedtime but nothing extraordinary- which was great considering I had added new foods for the first time in ages!
The procedure today was a lot shorter.
I had some cramping again and this time it was harder to retain the implant but I managed anyways.
Throughout the day I felt full and bloated and slightly crampy. There was a lot of rumbling again, especially after food.
I had some prebiotics again and that seemed to be alright despite the previous SIBO problems.
Generally I felt fatigued, headachy and a bit lethargic again.
My sleep was interrupted and I felt slightly ‘hungover’ in the morning. After having been to the loo my belly was flat and calm for the first time in ages though!
The procedure again was quick and uneventful today.
I retained the implant no problem and even had enough energy to do some sightseeing and walking. Hitchin is quite a nice little town.
Overall I felt less tired but my belly was still bloated and big after eating food.
Again, there was more rumbling and gas in the evening. I introduced more new foods including raw lettuce, plantains and blueberries. Happy days!
I woke up early again and finally got my period (nurses said that most women get it during treatment, must be to do with the body getting a bit messed up). My belly again felt quite calm and flat.
Tried adding more prebiotics in the form of inulin-FOS and acacia fibre (bionic fibre) and again there seemed to be no major adverse effects apart from a bit of bloating and slight cramps (which is my normal state anyways).
I felt pretty rough today with my hay fever really kicking off for the first time and horrible period pains. The nurse said that issues like allergies can get worse during FMT as the immune system reacts to the foreign microbes.
I also had less energy again.
I was taught how to do the implant myself in preparation for the home treatment. This went pretty well and I felt confident continuing the treatment at home.
Later, I introduced more new foods and ended up with a bit of a headache after lunch.
Otherwise I experienced pain around the ascending colon and was still crampy around the belly button area (ileum).
However, there seemed to be no major reverse affects from the prebiotics though my belly still got big and bloated after food. Also noticed that my skin was worse and my hair was falling out a bit more again.
Generally I’ve had less indigestion but the bloating always gets worse in the evening.
Today was my last day at the clinic, the week flew by.
It was kind of nice and relaxing as I had no other commitments apart from the one hour at the clinic each day.
I managed to see most of Hitchin and went for walks and read a lot. The clinic advised me to get as much rest as possible and I certainly tried that. The sun finally came out as well.
Unfortunately my hay fever was killing!
Otherwise I had no pains though.
The last implant went fine, I did it myself again and managed to spill a bit but luckily the nurse was there to assist. I’ll sure be more careful next time…
The clinic staff were super nice again and showed me how to put the home kits together one more time.
The patient liaison manager came to speak to me about my progress and the future and said it was a good sign that I had eaten more foods without major reactions.
There’s a chance that I’m a fast responder, but we’ll see.
I also received my home implants in a massive insulated box.
Before I left, I had a chat to a fellow patient who had her last day and said she felt super great! This gave me confidence.
The plan forward is to space the remaining implants out and have maybe two next week and then one a week.
I was told again that it takes three months for the microbes to really be mine as the immune system has to produce new antibodies in reaction to the new microbiota. So in any case I’d have to wait that long to determine whether the treatment has been successful.
The staff at the clinic have been really great, I was almost sad to leave. They’re just really caring and really take their time.
The clinic stressed again that the progress of the treatment is very individual and that it might get worse before it gets better.
In their experience they’ve seen patients who get better straight away, patients who have ups and downs before they get better, patients who need more continuous implants before they get better and then some patients who don’t get better through FMT at all.
I am now half way through my treatment and for now it seems that some symptoms have come back and/or gotten worse. They include the hay fever, skin breakouts, hair loss and bloating/cramps.
Overall I’ve felt quite drained this week. The treatment is definitely taking a toll on the body and I can tell that my immune system is working hard.
What about the ick factor?
I’m sure that’s one of the first questions many people will think of. I have to say that it wasn’t disgusting at all and I barely ever thought of the implant as being ‘someone else’s stool‘. There wasn’t even any smell. I really only thought of it as ‘my new bacteria’!
The plan for the second half of the treatment is to wait a few days and then have two treatments per week and after that maybe once a week until I’ve used them up.
I’m also planning on adding more prebiotics.
Generally I’ve switched from GAPS to a paleo type of diet including potatoes, fermented dairy and white rice.
After reading Dr Grace Liu’s recommendations on the gut institute blog I’m convinced that all the gut healing protocols are great to lower the pathogens and toxins but they overall starve the beneficial bacteria in the long term as well.
So feeding rather than starving will be my new strategy.