Have you seen the movie “The Butterfly Effect?”
It’s a powerful movie that shows the effects of how single events in our lives shape them.
If you search your history, it’s likely you’ll find an event or two in which everything changed for the worse with your health. I have them, Jordan has them, every coaching client I ever worked with had them.
Sadly, we don’t typically see the unravelling of our health until we are really suffering.
Petra’s story is a courageous tale that shows this in great detail. I only wish more people knew how quickly one stressful event, or one round of antibiotics can begin the downward health spiral. If they did, they might not end up in the hospital being diagnosed with scary diseases like Crohn’s.
If there’s one thing you take away from this story, I hope it’s the fact that almost all of our health symptoms are connected and if the root issues aren’t addressed, our bodies will continue to break down.
I have been following you guys for over 2 years now and finally commented on a status on your facebook page where you then asked me to tell you guys more about my story.
I’m not sure if people will be helped by my story and I have to admit, it took some courage just to put it in words for you.
So here it goes…
I Always Had Some Trouble with Lactose and Gluten…
When looking back, I just told myself that if I just ate enough ice cream it would be worth the pain.
But my story really starts with the point I call the beginning of my “bad luck,” which was in August 2007. I had a bad work accident, where in normal situations the person would have died but somehow I survived without a scratch. This was the point at which everything went south! I became more vulnerable to stress, school was difficult, and the family was having a hard time, which took its toll on me.
Then, in August 2008, I had to have a surgery on my thyroid because of inflammation and stage 1 cell changes where the cells were turning black. I consider myself a lucky person since only half of it was taken and the rest is hyper enough for me to avoid medications.
After that in April 2009, I got my first Iritis (an inflammation in the iris) in the left eye. During this time, I would say that I got worse with food sensitivitites but I had so much going on that I didn’t realize how bad it was getting. Then, things got worse in Nov/Dec 2009, at the age of 22, I had bad, constant diarrhea for 6 weeks. At that time, my doctors told me to take Imodium and do all kinds of tricks but nothing helped.
After 1.5 weeks without digesting the food – it went through in whole and what came out was bloody – my mom said “enough is enough.”
She took me to the emergency room and refused to go back home until the doctors had found out what was wrong. I got two liters of IV infusion and was booked for a colonoscopy a few days later. At that point, I could not eat anything solid; food just gave me pain and toilet trips. The only thing that made me feel better was drinking Gatorade.
During this hospital stay, I realized my whole University semester might just go down the drains as I had no focus whatsoever during the examination period. After all kinds of tests and the colonoscopy, the doctors finally diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease. I was relieved and shocked at the same time. I had gotten an answer to my questions, but also told I would have to live with this for the rest of my life!
I Was Finally Put on Entocort…
On December 23rd, 2009, I was finally put on Entocort. I recall how happy I was to be able to sit for Christmas Eve Dinner for over an hour before I had to go to the toilet! This was a big improvement.
Five months later, I was taken off the Entocort and put on Imurel since I was feeling better and was able to digest my food again. I was happy I was “better,” but hadn’t accepted the lifetime medication situation. That was mostly because my GI Doctor told me we could see how things would go in 3 years and that there could be a possibility to quit the Imurel. I had asked him hundreds of questions about Crohn‘s disease, food and possibilities of curing it naturally. I guess my positivity moved him, as even though he didn‘t admit that eating certain foods could help he nevertheless said that avoiding certain foods was known to help people.
A Spark in My Heart Was Lit…
During this time my immune system was much weaker, as I always caught the worst case of every flu very fast. A person could not sneeze in the same room as me without making me sick. Therefore, I was often put on antibiotics, which usually made me have flare ups. The Iritis reoccurred 2-3 times a year.
The tip of the mountain was in 2012 when the Iritis got so bad, that my eye doctors were afraid I would lose my eyesight. As a result, I was hospitalized for 6 days. At that time I had moved from Iceland to Germany due to my postgraduate studies. The German doctors thought that the Imurel was causing my eye troubles and wanted to change my medication to Humira.
I wasn’t too happy about it, so I went home to Iceland during my holidays and met a new Icelandic GI Doctor with the previously mentioned suggestion. He wanted to up my doses of Imurel and told me to send him the blood results in 4 weeks from Germany. I did as told, but things simply got worse.
At this point, I decided to go to a GI Doctor in my hometown in Germany to get a second opinion. I told her about the suggestion from my first doctor about quitting the medication one day. She was skeptical but did a new colonoscopy to see the current situation.
I tried to eat as clean as possible the weeks before and the results were amazing! She did not see any wounds or inflammation and it looked as if I had never had Crohn’s. At that moment, I was so determined to do anything in my power to quit the medication that I surfed the internet about Crohn‘s disease and how to reverse it for days. It was then that I came across the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall, and the SCD Lifestyle blog. I read everything I could and slowly started changing my diet to SCD (without the intro diet). I saw specialists in Heidelberg a few months later, both GI and Eye Doctors. Both of them “gave me permission” to try to stop the medication, but under the control of the GI Doctor in my town.
It took me a month of discussions with my family and boyfriend before I found the courage to do so.
I Decided to Go 200% on the SCD Diet…
On April 11th, 2013, I went all in with the intro diet and created my “food safe zone.” I started noticing how the toilet trips became more regular, I didn‘t get the flu as often, my pain was reducing and I had more energy than ever. Since then, I haven‘t gotten flare ups, gone to the hospital, and my body can fight the flu on its own!
Now, almost 2 years later, I am still cautiously widening my “food safe zone.” I can go out for dinner with friends and family without any major problems. I eat my SCD yogurt every day and try as hard as I can to simply follow what is now known as “Petra’s diet,” a.k.a. a diet based on SCD, but also consisting of some non-SCD foods. My diet is all natural, and if I eat something that makes me feel bad (gas, cramps, bloating), or if I fall off the wagon, I will immediately stop it and go back to the homemade chicken broth and my “food safe zone.”
Every day is a worthy challenge, as I have to stay strong to follow my own guidelines. I read the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle every now and then to remind myself why I eat the way I do. I follow the SCD Lifestyle blog for pep-ups and more information. I sometimes feel disappointed I can‘t eat like “normal people,” but to keep me going I have two sentences hanging on the door of my bedroom to remind myself every morning to keep on track: “Health is a choice” and “You are strong enough to do this!”
To everyone thinking of trying SCD to help their health, I say go for it! What have you got to lose? Your health is one of the most important things you have and you should do everything in your power to keep it in the best shape you can.
The courage it takes to vulnerably share your story is magical. Thank you for going there Petra, it allows those of us who read your story to go there in our lives. It causes us to reflect on our health histories and gives us hope that we too can defeat the health issues we are struggling with!
If you’re reading this and need more help customizing the SCD Diet to work for your body, our book will help you do that: http://scdlifestylebook.com/