Healing the Best (And Only) Ways I Know How

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This is the third instalment of Crohn’s Week. For a continuous version of the story please check out parts 1 and 2.

I now knew that I had Crohn’s Disease. With a name for the pain I had been feeling, I knew I could do something about it.

I had already started feeling less tired as a result of the B12 and iron supplements I was taking to combat my anemia. For such a long time I had taken for granted that sometimes I felt tired and/or dizzy and always assumed that it was because I was so busy. This was not the case at all. The iron and B12 gave me more energy and the dizzy spells went away. Isn’t it amazing how a small imbalance in our body can truly affect our day to day lives?

The medications Dr. A had recommended had helped a little bit, but I was still going to the washroom fairly frequently, with a lot of urgency, and there was still blood and pain. While I was following his advice of a “healthy, well-balanced diet” and taking my pills like a good girl, I knew there had to be more to it than that. I didn’t want to put a band-aid over my problems and work towards going on bigger, more powerful medications and potentially surgeries (as I liked my colon on the inside), so I followed my gut. After a little Nancy Drew-like stealth, I made an appointment with a naturopath that one of my WW members had recommended. This decision changed my life.

I liked Dr. M from the first day I met her. She was kind, caring and down to earth. Even from my very first day she gave me some small suggestions to implement in working towards healing. I compiled an extensive questionnaire and food dairy for her and on our second visit she walked me through her recommendations including:

  • Increase intake of warm, cooked foods to enhance digestive healing
  • Increase foods naturally rich in iron & b12
  • Take a probiotic (HMF Forte by Genestra) as well as other supplements and teas
  • Physical therapies including the use of castor oil packs and abdominal massage
  • Decrease dairy, sugar & caffeine
  • Food sensitivity testing

I started the supplements slowly, followed her other recommendations and made the decision to do food sensitivity testing. On one of the worksheets she gave me there is a quote from Hippocrates that reads:

Let food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food

I say that Dr. M changed my life, because with her guidance I drastically changed my eating habits and then I started to feel like me again.
My bowel movements calmed down.
The runs to the washroom slowed down (and I no longer had to get off busy subway cars to use the disgusting washroom in the station for fear I wouldn’t make it to work “safely”)
My stomach cramps diminished
and I stopped seeing blood on the tissue after I wiped

It was amazing.

These changes did not happen overnight, nor did I magically wake up one day feeling better. It took a lot of work, but the rewards were so great that it was absolutely worth it. I came off the Flagyl because after I started taking it I began getting terrible night sweats. Dr. A was concerned that I was running fevers in the middle of the night (which is a sign of inflammation) and once I stopped taking the antibiotic the night sweats disappeared.

Following my initial visits with Dr. M, I went gluten & dairy free in March and over the summer went vegan. I feel fantastic. I’ve had a couple instances of pain and 1-ish flare up (which I blame the brown rice protein powder for entirely), but otherwise it has been clear sailing. Eating this way is second nature to me now and it really comes down to feeling good vs. feeling bad. I like feeling good, so I will continue on this path I have formed for myself.

While food and supplements were a giant component in my healing, there were other pieces in the puzzle as well. Joey was a constant rock for me throughout everything that happened. November 11 is my mom’s birthday and is traditionally a challenging day for me. Last year on November 11, it had been about a week since I had been diagnosed. I was feeling crappy physically and emotionally in the morning, but had to get to work because I had a busy day ahead of me. I called him later that morning nearly in tears because I was in a lot of pain and I was feeling pretty sad and missing mom. Around lunchtime the receptionist called me to say that a package had been dropped off for me:

IMG00076-20081111-1254 with this card

SANY2352“I’m here for you always. Love, Joey xoxo” 

It was such a thoughtful gesture that was amplified by the unconditional love and support he gave me all along. I have been so blessed to have him in my life. My friends and family also have played huge roles in my healing. Everyone was so caring and kind throughout my diagnosis and supported me in all of my decisions along the way. These people have helped me to stay strong, even in moments when I did not feel that way and I thank my lucky stars for them each and every day.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the last element in my healing, which has been achieving balance in my life. I’m going to share the news I was alluding to last week, tell you how this disease has changed my life for the better and explain why I’m so thrilled for January.


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Love the "Nancy Drew-like stealth" term for your mission - totally necessary, for sure! And what a beautiful card. Here's to healing continuously xo

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) said...

You were given the best advice. But most importantly of all, you followed it and had the mindset that it would work. And you had a super boy!

Lauren said...

I am enjoying this story so much. My husband stayed in the hospital with me and slept on ta chair every night the first time I went in (the second time I made him go home to sleep). Just shows you how good our men are!! I swear, some of my ex's would of ran the other way, if I was sick then.

K8 said...

As always Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. You are a strong woman, who is a role model for so many people... whether IBD, WW or just your overall positive outlook on life. Thank you.
Lots of love..

Pure2Raw Twins said...

Having a good support system is so important when you are trying to heal!! So glad you listen to your gut, I am trying to do that more often.

Megan said...

Everyday this week, as I read your story, I feel like I am reading about myself.
I am so happy you are doing this!
And I hope you are doing okay today!

Anonymous said...

I would love if you could do a post about the castor packs and abdominal massage. I have been looking into them but I would love to know more from someone who actually uses them. Thanks.

Alex said...

That quote is one of my faves...My mum (a holistic nutritionist) actually has that quote framed in her office! I guess it's a fave of all foodie healers :)

Hurray for answers and hurray for amazing boyfriends! I'm lucky to also have an incredible "rock" of a bf...he's so supportive and patient.

Hurray for no more peglyte too...ew.

Ashley Gibson said...

Best readers ever. Seriously!I'm so happy that I can just be open and honest with y'all.

An amazing support system and a positive attitude is absolutely KEY in dealing with anything!!

organicgirl - That will be a post in the future for sure!! I haven't explored either as much as I could, but would like to.

GF Gidget said...

Love it "Nancy Drew"! I have been thinking about taking Probiotics. I am still have some GI problems even on a strict diet. What do you take?

Emily said...

Again, I love reading your story. And I love that you went to a naturopath. I am very interested (and plan to) use complementary and alternative medicine in my future nutrition practice, and it's great to see another example of the fact that it does work!

Anonymous said...

I am reading through your story. You have much to share and I hope others are blessed by your journey to date.

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