Blair spent the majority of her life struggling with debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms that limited the way she was able to live her life. She sought, but received no answers for decades. When her gastrointestinal symptoms escalated to the point of significant weight loss and malnutrition she turned to Spruce MD to help her find answers.
Spruce MD member Blair Hunnicutt shares how Spruce MD helped resolve her digestive issues.
Honestly, it is hard to paraphrase my lifelong “stomach issues” but here goes.
My earliest memories started at the age of 11. I remember having accidents because I was unable to get to the bathroom in time. It was humiliating and left me with shame and fear. Because of this uncertainty I did not want to go anywhere, spend the night with friends or leave my home. My parents sought medical advice on more than one occasion. I was essentially told time and again that I just had an upset stomach. The prescribed medications proved to have long and short term side effects. They did not help my symptoms and often my parents decided against them. I continued to live with severe abdominal pain and unpredictable episodes. My childhood development was truly affected by my stomach issues.
Throughout adulthood, I tried different food plans, varying diets and exercise routines. I continued to seek medical attention in order to resolve and identify the underlying problem. The pain and constant diarrhea continued to affect my way of life. A few years before seeing Dr. Blankenship, I was truly fed up. I was in my mid-thirties and returning to my hometown of Greenville, SC. I was dealing with other scary medical issues and was at my wits end dealing with heightened digestive issues on top of everything else. My primary care physician referred me to a gastroenterologist. I underwent rigorous tests: colonoscopy, endoscopy, blood work, stool samples, etc. All tests continued to come back normal with no explanation for my symptoms. How could that be? How could I have diarrhea 15 to 20 times a day and nothing be abnormal?
My cousin, also a member at Spruce MD, had shared concerns of my medical issues and we together decided that my next appointment should be at Spruce MD. I liked Spruce MD’s different approach to care and that Dr. Blankenship treats holistically and thinks outside the box. I needed that. I was tired of just trying medications and tests with no results. I needed a doctor who truly listened, wanted to help and who would explore avenues that I had never been introduced to. I was also encouraged by my numerous family members and friends who had received successful advice, treatment and recommendations at Spruce MD.
I was blown away by my first impression of Spruce MD. It was requested that I complete an extensive questionnaire prior to my first visit. My initial appointment was more than I could have anticipated, hoped for or imagined. The atmosphere at Spruce MD is comfortable and inviting. There is no doctor’s office feel, but rather a personal atmosphere. I was in awe that both my physician and dietician had actually already read my intake information. Dr. Blankenship and Katherine were both good listeners and showed interest in hearing my story. I never felt rushed, sitting and talking in their offices for well over an hour about my past experiences. I was able to relax and explain my goals, concerns, as well as past and present frustrations. At the end of my first visit, we discussed a plan of action moving forward. The well kept documentation is uploaded to a patient portal that I was able to review later so I didn’t feel pressure to remember everything during our conversation.
Additionally, both Dr. Blankenship and Katherine are available anytime by phone, email or the patient portal and their response time is incredibly fast. I have never experienced such thorough communication, documentation, care and concern as I feel at Spruce MD. In the past I left doctor’s appointments with no plan of action and not feeling if I had been heard. Appointment times are easy and accessible, whether in person or via a virtual visit. All information is readily available for me to review, digest and ask questions if they arise. DR. BLANKENSHIP gets back to me promptly. The DOCTOR – not a nurse or medical assistant. She shares in my frustrations and she celebrates with me in my successes.
I was ultimately diagnosed with small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. This is where bacteria overgrows the large intestine and extends into the small intestine. In all of my previous testing, this was never considered. Through carefully guided dietary changes with Katherine, two rounds of treatment and a very personalized health plan, my dietary issues are completely resolved. I am truly free! I can go anywhere, do anything and not feel anxious or nervous. For as long as I can remember I always needed to be close to home or somewhere I felt comfortable due to my unpredictable digestive issues. In a matter of months, my decades of suffering abruptly ended. My repeat SIBO test showed that my numbers had normalized and I am now focusing on daily maintenance and continuing to eat healthily. Beyond resolution of my stomach issues, I also have more energy, gained some weight back and sleep better.
Throughout this entire process I felt cared for and knew that both my providers had my best interest in mind. Every decision being made was leading to a better life. Instead of continual recommendations to see another doctor, Spruce MD handled all of my care. The majority of my testing I could do at home and then ship off seamlessly.
I don’t believe “everything happens for a reason” but instead believe God is in control. I think finding Dr. Blankenship was part of his ultimate plan. I wanted to share my story so that others might find hope. Being a patient at Spruce MD has made a tremendous difference in my health and confidence, and my faith in the medical field has been restored!