March of 2017 I was first diagnosed with an infection in my colon. The ER doctor I visited gave me a 2 week prescription for antibiotics, but * PLOT TWIST *, that wasn’t the right diagnosis. I took the 14 days worth of antibiotics which only hurt my gut more. I finally visited a gastroenterologist who told me I was likely to have either Crohn’s (inflammatory bowel disease of the entire digestive tract) or Ulcerative Colitis (inflammatory bowel disease of the colon and rectum, often resulting in thousands of ulcers, oh boy!) After a colonoscopy, it was confirmed that I had Ulcerative Colitis.
I was told to take a steroid directly after my diagnosis to help me gain back my strength. I was severely nutrient deprived and dehydrated. I was also told to start taking an inflammation management pill everyday, twice a day. The management pill would mess up my iron levels, so I also had to take an iron supplement. At one point I was taking 8 pills a day. I was eventually able to wean myself off of the steroid, which had horrible side effects: weight gain, mood swings, and hair loss. At one of my follow up appointments with the gastorenterologist, I asked about eventually lowering my dosage of the management pill. She looked surprised and told me that I was already on the lowest dosage possible. She could tell I was eager to be off of my medication. She told me that if I ever stopped taking the medicine, my symptoms would get worse. She told me I would eventually have a flare up worse than the original and that it would be extremely detrimental to my overall health.. Scare tactics much??
I continued on with my medication for about 3 months. At this point I had considered going back to work, but I was still using the bathroom more than usual and had stomach cramps on and off. I started googling things like ‘what diet is best for people with ulcerative colitis?’ Or ‘foods to avoid when you have ulcerative colitis’. I kept finding the same information over and over. Headlines like “genetics play a bigger factor in your diagnosis of autoimmune disease than anything else” or “diet and lifestyle does not cause ulcerative colitis” (not to say these things don’t play a factor, but you’re trying to say my diet doesn’t count for anything??). I felt like there was no way to approach this disease without accepting that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life. I felt so hopeless. It’s hard to just suddenly have to be ‘okay’ with having your life turned upsidown.
One day while I was on one of my googling sprees, I saw something different. I forget exactly what it was that I searched and exactly what it was that I clicked on, but it brought me to a website that suggested its readers watch a documentary film called ‘Forks Over Knives’. I had a Netflix subscription and I was still unemployed at the time. So what started with me watching this one simple documentary, turned into a full day of binge-watching multiple documentaries on food and health, tons of youtube videos, and spiraling down a rabbit hole of scientific articles about gut-biome and vitamins. I felt a spark of hope and just like that I made the decision to eat nothing but raw fruits and vegetables for a week.. just to see how it made me feel.
I wish I was joking when I say that after just a day of eating just plants, I wanted to scream from the top of my lungs “VEGETABLES MAKE ME SO HAPPY!!”. They say it’s normal to get a kind of nutrient high when you’ve been nutrient deficient for so long, and I guess it must be true because I felt absolutely amazing. What started off as a week turned into 2 weeks, then 3, then finally I stopped counting. Although I didn’t go into this lifestyle with the intention of becoming vegan, that’s what happened. I started feeling better and better. My stomach cramps were going away, I had so much more energy. I started doing yoga and journaling. Not only was my body becoming more healthy, but so was my mind. I’ll have been vegan for a year this upcoming March. I’m happy to say that not only has my body healed, but i’ve been medication free for about 5 of those 12 months.
I hope that this blog can approach disease and health from a perspective different from the status quo. I believe many autoimmune diseases are preventable and that the health of your ancestors, does not necessarily dictate the health you create for yourself. I hope that people struggling right now can use this blog as a source of information and hope.