Hey everyone. I have been posting here for a little over a week. I thought I would share my story so you can know me and maybe I can post a picture and become a part of this place. Please feel free to laugh at my expense anytime. :)
My name is Steve. I am a 30 year old living in small town Pennsylvania, just outside the historic grounds of Gettysburg(if anyone ever cares to visit, give me a heads up and I’ll be happy to show you around as long as you promise to be as non-touristy as possible :P). I have a pit bull named Kieran who is an amazing dog and a great example of what pit bulls can be. My hobbies often include camping, climbing, reading, learning, music, and so much more. One thing people are often surprised by is how quiet I can be(I can be shy sometimes)…I have an addiction with tattoos, meeting awesome people of all sorts, and always trying to be the best person I can be. Nice to meet all of you and I would love to hear from you, no matter who you are.
Right now, I am experiencing loose stools and frequent BMs…with only a little blood and mucus. Comparably, I have had horrible days I wish not to remember so I will not take this time for granted.
My story began in the summer of 2005, as I was about to start college after taking a few years off after high school. At the time, I was working a blue collar job here in Gettysburg and everything was going well for me. I had great friends, a family that was growing with a niece on the way, an awesome relationship, and more. I felt like I was finally finding myself, my place in this world, but little did I know it was all about to change.
I kept it to myself but I was really stressed about starting college—how would I do, would I have enough money being an adult student, etc. My worries led to some stomach discomfort a few weeks before classes were to start but I didn’t think much of it. It was not until the night before classes that I had my first real UC symptoms…urges, cramps, a little blood, etc. I went to the emergency room but the doctors could not find anything so I was told to see a GI doctor. I went on with the semester, experiencing steady symptoms not knowing what I had because I did not get in to the GI until November. He scheduled a scope for a week before Thanksgiving and I learned that day I had UC. He told me then to expect my entire life to be different.
Honestly, up until that point, I had done quite well managing things. I only missed part of a morning thanks to the craziness that is digestive issues(the professor probably figured I lied because he saw me on campus later—I didn’t want to miss a full day of classes—, gave me a pop quiz, and probably docked me attendance points). I ended up with an A- in his class because of it, with all other classes being As. And to think…what if I had not gotten sick?? My subsequent classes have been the same when I have been able to attend…all great grades.
So my mom drove me home that day and I started on prednisone. I saw instant improvements but knew I could not stay on steroids for life. For one, I was never one to take medicine(I didn’t take my first pill until I was 16—I practiced swallowing M&Ms :P). Two, I have always loved studying the human body so when I read up on all the treatments for UC, I started to feel awkward. It all sounded like band-aids to me…not true fixes of whatever the underlying issue was. That felt very wrong to me. I had already discussed the possibility of foods being a trigger with my doctor as it was what I noticed. He told me it was not likely but avoided the questions saying we would talk more in time. Regardless, I tapered off the prednisone in December as I was starting asacol. My symptoms started to reappear, specifically painful cramps and a little blood that my doctor considered par for the the course.
When he told me that over the phone, I stopped and immediately looked up the side effects of asacol. I read some positive stories but I also read a lot of horror stories with symptoms like mine showing up…needless to say, that was the end of the asacol for me. I just couldn’t fathom taking a medicine that was supposed to put me in remission making my symptoms worse. I remember sitting at the computer crying just wanting real answers. I ended up finding a story on some crazy old internet database about a doctor who had UC in the 50s I think…he didn’t believe in a natural treatments given his training but his wife read a book by a gentleman. She repeatedly would leave the man’s number under his dinner plate and he called it one evening. The man lent him a book and within a few weeks, the sick doctor was no longer sick. He was vibrant, alive, and no longer in fear of losing his colon…all from altering his diet.
I was inspired but skeptical so I did more research and I found David Klein’s story…a fellow UC sufferer who was near losing his colon who also saw correlations to his health and his eating. I bought his book, Self Healing Colitis and Crohn’s, with a great deal of hope because I felt without it, I was going to die. I know, probably a little extreme but I was just finding my way and now I have this illness that doctors do not seem to understand. Their treatments are drastic and often with serious side effects. I didn’t want to be a shell of myself. I wanted to be able to take my dogs on walks, backpack across Europe, hike the Appalachian trail, etc.
I remember waiting for the book like Adam describes waiting for his yogurt maker on another part of the site :) I was so happy to get it and I read it within the hour. I was all about it. Everything made sense. So I made plans to heal and rest over my break. I also planned to take a semester away from school, hoping the extra time would put me in a great position for the fall. I just had to wait to taper off the tiny bit of prednisone and I could start juicing. Over that break, thanks to my UC, the relationship I was in ended abruptly so I was torn apart without ever getting a chance to get better.
I kid you not but I didn’t care about getting better anymore. All of it was a constant reminder of her because she was there through it, even the awesome store I found where I could get organic produce. I got sick of sitting around in my own pity so I went back to work at a pizza shop I worked at in high school…still sick. I hoped to heal while working but it didn’t work. I ended up giving away my dogs so they could have a life where people could play with them(by the next spring, I adopted Kieran because I couldn’t be without a dog and he helped me not give up). Long story short, I worked, attended school that fall, and did everything without medicines. I just dealt with the symptoms and put on a brave face…never letting anyone see my weaknesses.
That was about two years into my UC…in the five years since, I have tried different doctors, different medicines, all made me worse, had one short hospital stay from severe dehydration, low blood counts, had jobs, been out of work, etc. I’ve been raw at times with great health, others so addicted to cooked foods I felt like I would never win. I can be honest and tell you for most of it was mildly depressed…living with very little money, having almost no life whatsoever, just stuck…being the only one to help my mom after a heart attack when my brothers have their health and I do not…having a friend kill himself and knowing I had suffered like I think he was…even talking about all of ii here makes me feel pretty horrible because I have let this illness control so much of my life and that is so unlike me. I am persistent. I am a fighter…but I have let UC win when I know better. Fast forward to a few weeks ago…
I had some pain in my side that was new. It was paralyzing when it would strike and I would have the urge to vomit. I knew something was wrong so I started juicing, just trying to get nutrition to my body without eating anything my body would have to breakdown. At all costs, I wanted to avoid the hospital and put an end to this illness once and for all(I knew if I went to the hospital I would be stuck on medicines again and be forced to eat their food, most of which is not good for a UC sufferer—soda, coffee??) Oddly, juicing seemed to increase the pains intensity—maybe because my intestine was narrower—but it passed. I think it was an a partial obstruction so I said that was it. I had to win this battle and get my life back. Eating raw is pricey when I have to travel so far to get food a few times a week so I was just searching YouTube one day. I found Adam and heard about SCD…he had some bacon and some sort of squash I think. This excited me because there are only s o many ways you can eat raw. Now I can go into a regular store and actually make a meal. I can lift and workout without emptying my wallet on calories. I will get to be an uncle again and also plan awesome dates for ladies I meet…lol. The list of perks goes on and on. I love the idea of eating mostly raw but eating with SCD in mind as well. I think it will offer me great health in the future.
I know it is quite the road ahead of me until maybe I am fully happy…not so much in getting well but getting my life back to where I want it…I want to climb by the end of the year as a goal….but this place has given me hope and ironically, I love reading about all of you so I thank you for that. I hope to be around a lot so I can help you and you can help me. Thanks to Adam for creating this place, thanks to all of you for reading, and may you find great health in your lives.
Where I’d Like to be in 1 year:
I want to be working consistently obviously, maybe get back to school but more importantly for me would be the small things…like being able to go on a road trip on a whim to see friends and meet many new people or being able to finish work on my mom’s house for her, saving her money and raising the value of the house. Or even being able to sit through guitar lessons or be able to finish/start new tattoos. I want to definitely reconnect with my brothers as we have not been close in over a decade and the same with my dad. I would love to get Kieran certified so we can visit sick people in the hospital. Oh, so many dreams…if I put them here, I will have to make them happen so if you’re wondering why…now you know!
My experiences with medications have not been great and my studies have shown the body goes into a UC state because it is trying to rid itself of toxins. So unless a doctor tells me I may die, I honestly will try to avoid medications at all costs…short of a probiotic or the like. Speaking as someone who at one time wanted to be a doctor to help kids who grew up with orthopedic deformities like I did, I think western medicine is great…but at the same time very centered around using medications and surgery as treatment. All medications have side effects and will change the body in unintended, possibly negative ways…it reminds me of when I was making windows in 2005. If my frame saw was not cutting properly, the maintenance guys would adjust the frame welder to skirt the issue, and eventually, my saw would get worse and we would have to shut down production until it was fixed. Why not fix the saw where the problem is originating?? Just like our health…why not look at the actual underlying causes of the illness and attack it there? In the end, we have a better chance of reaching lasting health that way, with no ill side effects or new illnesses as a result. Just my two cents…
written by Steve
submitted in the colitis venting area