Are you starting to view your health condition as a lifetime prison sentence?
If you’ve convinced yourself there’s no way out, we need to talk.
I’ve been there. Back when I was sick, I was so sure my health would be the end of me that I wrote out my own will.
I broke free of those chains and so did our friend, Teresa.
Despite the fact that her symptoms were so bad she was forced to quit her job, she refused to just accept it as her normal.
She is now a happy and healthy person, who spends her time camping and traveling the world.
If you’re needing some hope today, don’t miss Teresa’s inspiring story.
I Saw Blood in My Stool and I Was Scared
In January 2015, I stopped at the restroom on my way out of a yoga class. I was shocked to see blood in my stool. As I walked back to my car, I called my Mom in hopes her wise words would console me and offer reassurance that it was probably no biggie. She advised me it was probably nothing to worry about but that I should get checked out by a doctor.
The joke in our household growing up was unless a bone is popping out and you’re bleeding out of a large artery then a doctor was unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong though, we always had our physicals, dental cleanings and shots. I made the earliest appointment I could, 3 weeks out, with a random general practitioner I found online and decided worrying about it wasn’t going to help my situation.
The Pain Began to Worsen and I Knew Something Was Horribly Wrong
Fast forward 2 weeks. Blood had been in every bowel movement since that day at the gym. I was lying on an air mattress lining the Hard Rock Hotel’s floor with a bunch of friends. We had spent the night in the Gaslamp district of San Diego drinking and eating. Lots of beer, Jameson and deep dish pizza.
I awoke to agonizing pain. I urgently had to use the bathroom while trying to mask the pain and worry that swept over me. I managed to use the bathroom probably 5 times within the hour and got myself up and into the car without causing too much concern. My friends figured I was probably just hung over. I knew something was wrong. I knew the stomach pains were like nothing I’d ever experienced. The urgency and diarrhea was worrisome too. I managed to sit through breakfast and a beach day of volleyball grasping my abdomen reassuring my now concerned friends that it was probably period pains. I knew it wasn’t but I didn’t know what to tell them.
I was embarrassed and scared.
They wouldn’t understand. I didn’t even understand. “Oh fyi guys I’m having a lot of bloody diarrhea and feel as though my insides are being ripped out. All good!”
I Went to See the Doctor, But Left Feeling Worse
The general practitioner told me rectal bleeding is 99% of the time hemorrhoids and of very little concern. She gave me some suppositories to use every night and told me the inflamed veins would eventually lessen, the bleeding would stop and I’d be worry free in 2 weeks time.
The bleeding worsened. Every morning began worse than the last. I was extremely uncomfortable for a couple hours each morning as I sat on my bed waiting for the next urgent, bloody, diarrhea filled bowel movement. I would get up a couple hours before I had to be anywhere so I could get my weird ritual out of the way before I actually had to leave my apartment. Mornings were the worst. I went back to the doctor. She told me to see a Gastroenterologist – whatever was ailing me was pretty serious and clearly was not hemorrhoids.
The next months were spent getting really acquainted with all things gastro related. I reveled in lots of suppositories, enemas, blood work, stool tests, anal exams and a colonoscopy.
My initial gastroenterologist saw some inflammation and diagnosed me with Proctitis. I started losing weight, losing energy and losing even more control over my body. I had called out of work a couple times that past week – something I prided myself in rarely, if ever, doing.
I had gone gluten free, hired a holistic nutritionist and started reading. I started reading a lot. I was scared. My parents were scared and one of the more alarming moments was when my gastroenterologist told me he was scared for me. He decided an iron infusion was what I needed due to my drastically declining anemia.
Exhausted and Rapidly Losing Weight, I Had to Quit My Job
I will never forget that day.
I was scheduled to bartend that evening and I spent the morning sitting in a room with chemo patients being infused with iron. Here I was – a normal”ish” 23-year old woman sitting next to mostly older people who were fighting cancer. Cancer.
Why was I here? A weirdly stark contrast I remember thinking. I was just getting some liquid iron and was going to be on my way to shake some martinis and pour some beers. Little did I know that very iron infusion would be the last straw leading to my rock bottom descent.
At work, I could barely count my drawer and walk out to the bar top without wavering in exhaustion. My coworker, who was always anxious to take off immediately as he sees his relief, took one look at me and knew he had to stay.
I remember being in my manager’s office. I broke down crying, not understanding why I was so quickly deteriorating right after I was supposed to be injected with energy and strength. I am a strong-willed, happy, hard-working person and all I wanted was to maintain that composure. But simply put, I couldn’t. I was weak, exhausted, in pain and sick. That iron infusion had poisoned my already diseased body.
That was the last time I stepped into BJ’s as an employee.
Unable to Eat or Stand Up, I Went Straight to the Emergency Room…
Within 2 weeks, I had dropped 15 more pounds, couldn’t stand in the shower, couldn’t eat and could barely get myself to the bathroom. My parents were out of town, so my older sister and brother-in-law came over to help with laundry, heat me up broth (pretty much all I was ‘eating’) and take care of me.
As soon as my parents returned home, they picked me up and I never spent another night in my apartment. I awoke one morning and could barely roll over in bed and sit up. I looked at my mom and burst into tears. My eyes were completely sunken in, bones I didn’t realize I had were protruded out of random places and my strong will was being checked by my body. I needed to go to the hospital.
On July 20, 2015, Mom and Dad drove me 2 hours north to Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles – a very well respected hospital with an exceptional gastro department. My EKG revealed the severity of my condition allowing me to jump the 4-hour emergency room wait (figuratively speaking of course). Steroids, IV’s, X-rays and lots of questions ensued. I had been bleeding out of my rectum for 7 months straight, but luckily no blood transfusions!
Finally, I Received a Diagnosis
I spent a week in the hospital, had another colonoscopy and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis because of the extreme inflammation of my entire large intestine. Leading up to the hospital with all of the reading I had been doing, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I would treat and heal myself as holistically as I could. I had learned an exceptional amount during my deterioration and read books about people using food as medicine.
I would not accept a life of handcuffs. I would not accept a lifetime of harmful immunosuppressants and steroids with terrible side effects. I would go back to basics and do whatever I could to heal myself through natural remedies. No wavering. I would summon my mental strength at a time when my physical strength was non-existent.
I Decided to Follow the SCD Diet
My holistic nutritionist had exposed me to the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) but my new integrative gastroenterologist up at Cedars informed me the best results he had seen from patients attempting to treat and heal themselves through food was through the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
That was all I needed to hear to make the commitment.
My appointment with him a week out of the hospital gave me the tools, strength and support to take on changing my life through food. He emailed me a list of tips and tricks to gain weight (at this point I was underweight and 30 pounds down from a month earlier), Elaine Gottschall’s book Breaking the Vicious Cycle and pictures of a few cookbooks – including Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain.
The next couple months, while I was either lying in the hammock at my parents or on their couch trying simply to focus on eating and sleeping, my Mom went to serious work in the kitchen. I started with the intro diet and quickly transferred into full SCD. I incorporated a lot of homemade bone broth, probiotics and vitamins into my diet as well as all organic fruit/veggies, grass-fed meats, wild fish and organic pasture-raised eggs. In essence, I have always followed a GAPS style diet while staying within the parameters of SCD.
After 2 Weeks, My Bowel Movements Decreased From 20 to 5 Per Day
For about 6 months (before the hospital and after), I remember getting up all throughout the night – at the worst it was every hour – having terribly urgent (and still bloody) bowel movements. But my BM’s started decreasing from 20 times a day to 15, to 10 and then finally around 5. Within a couple weeks of being on SCD, my body was getting stronger, BM’s were lessening and I was beginning to sleep more and more throughout the night.
Food saved my life. Real, organic, simple food has been my medicine for the past year. I was weaned off of steroids 6 weeks out of the hospital and took my last anti-inflammatory pill in December 2015.
I Would Not Accept Ulcerative Colitis as a Lifetime Prison Sentence
The biggest influence for me to try to heal myself through food and SCD was that I simply wanted to give my body the resources it needed to heal instead of suppressing its biological systems with prescriptions drugs that DO NOT CURE your disease. If I could feed my body with what it needs to stop fighting itself off then of course I would choose that path rather than throwing a pill down there and crossing my fingers that I didn’t have a flare up.
I never want to experience what I did a year ago. According to the doctors in the hospital and other gastros I talked to, a diagnosis like Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s was a lifetime prison sentence in your own diseased body. They told me hospital stays and flare ups are just a part of these diagnoses and that was something I would need to accept.
I am 24 years old. Accepting that was not going to happen. There was no option for me. It was either I try to gain control of my own body or I lie down and let life pass me by.
I thought I may lose friends or that people wouldn’t understand. Well, luckily I have some amazing friends and family who understood my new lifestyle meant my health and happiness would be restored. They supported me and still do.
My parents jumped on board, cleaned out the fridge and pantry (although they are quite healthy anyway and always have been) and eat every SCD meal with me. My dad helps me smash open coconuts in the backyard and my mom tries my weird fermented ginger bug creations I make in the kitchen.
I realized people are a lot more understanding when you give them the chance to be.
The Tools I Used to Keep Going
I definitely focused on your success stories. Those were seriously gold for me. Besides reading through your SCD descriptions and all of the recipes, I would say reading the first-hand accounts was what really gave me hope and motivation to stick to it when it all seemed really hard and tedious. I don’t remember one sticking out much more than another – I did realize that if people with a range of varying digestive diseases were seeing such improvements through SCD, then the idea of it actually helping me seemed much more likely.
I would say if I had to pick one, my initial starting point was reading Breaking the Vicious Cycle. That scientific evidence, along with the success stories from SCD lifestyle blog were really my framework for success and motivation.
From there, I’d say using a lot of the recipes from the blog helped me keep my sanity in the beginning. I have always enjoyed food and finding recipes that made my new restricted diet less binding was key.
The SCD Diet Saved My Life and Has Allowed Me to Live Again
I can’t express how happy I am to have chosen this path. Yes, if I eat too much fruit, nut flour, dairy or peanut butter, I get bloated and my BM’s become very loose and more frequent… but on average I function normally. I have a couple BM’s a day, have plenty of energy (as long as I take my multi, vitamin D and B12 supplements) and do not worry about scoping out a bathroom everywhere I go. I eat delicious food every day and have learned to find beauty in nature’s fruits and veggies. I’ve been camping, traveled across the country and live with very little fear that a flare up will throw me backwards.
As long as I stick to my diet the fear of my own body turning on me is slowly diminishing. I am unbelievably thankful for the HOPE that my integrative gastroenterologist and SCD gave me. It is because of that hope for health that I keep going.
-Teresa C. of coconutmilkandredwine.com
Wow. I absolutely love her determination and the fact that she followed her intuition about natural health.
It’s truly amazing what the body can do if we provide the right tools.
If you’re ready to take back your health, or are just plain stuck, join us for a FREE webinar on how to heal a leaky gut here: