I’m a 74 year old male who retired about 10 years ago. My career was in executive staffing and I owned and operated a successful executive search firm. Recently my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.
Some more about me:
We live in CT and spend the winter months in Fl. I played the guitar and bass professionally while in college and still study and play the guitar. I also play tennis and golf and remain very active physically. In retirement I’ve become a student of Shakespeare’s plays.
Currently and for the past 18 months I’ve been close to, but not quite in remission. No blood, mucous, urgency, etc., but in the john usually 3x in the morning. After that I’m OK for the rest of the day.
Are Probiotics the Answer?
Following my UC diagnosis about 8 years ago, I was prescribed Asacol, Mesalamine, and a number of other drugs. Evidently these drugs are sulfa based and I’m allergic to sulfa. I was also allergic to 6MP and had to stop it in a couple of weeks.
I was finally put into remission with a combination of cortisone enemas, and HC Acetate suppositories. A year later I flared again, this time requiring prednisone to get the flare under control. When in the 1st 2 flares I couldn’t leave the house. Although there was no bleeding and I didn’t feel sick, I did need to stay very close to the bathroom because of extreme urgency. At times I needed the bathroom 15-20 times per day.
Then, about 5 years ago, I flared again due to serious stress. This flare was not as serious as the earlier ones. I learned through trial and error that a suppository would give me about 4-5 hours of protection (not needing a bathroom). Although I was able to manage things and function normally, I couldn’t eliminate the symptoms and was getting increasingly frustrated and very nervous about the extended use of prednisone. I’d taper down to 10 or 5 mgs of prednisone and flare again.
This lasted until about 18 months ago. At that point I asked my Gastroenterologist about diet and probiotics, which I had been hearing about. He was pessimistic about diet, believing as other GI’s I’ve spoken with do, that there is no solid evidence that diet is helpful. Although also pessimistic about probiotics he did say there was one that is worth trying – VSL#3. Evidently it is the only one that has been clinically tested with some, but not complete, success.
I then went on a gluten free, dairy free diet and began taking VSL#3. Eureka! They worked!
These steps have worked extremely well for me. The only downside is the cost. There’s no insurance coverage for VSL#3 and the DS (double strength) version was costing $300/month. However after about 6 weeks my symptoms improved enough for me to try the less expensive dosage form (1/3 the cost), which continues to work very well for me.
I’m not on any medication at all at this point and am keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll remain this way. I’m gradually introducing dairy and gluten into my diet, so far with positive results.
written by Steve B