The next morning, the doctor came into my room bright and early, and with a confident look on his face, delivered the news that would change my life forever. He told me that I tested positive for an autoimmune disease called Ulcerative Colitis, for which there is no cure; he told me I would need to be on medication for the rest of my life. He continued that lifestyle and diet have absolutely nothing to do with the disease, that I may not be able to ever run again, and that my chances of having children in the future would also be greatly affected by this disease. Talk about a bombshell! Now I realize that there are much worse diagnoses given out to patients every day, but to a young and extremely active individual who has had specific dreams for the future since childhood, this news was a devastating blow to say the least.
I’m sure there were other things spoken about in the couple minutes the doctor took to explain my diagnosis, however the aforementioned statements are the only things that I recall. Those statements are what stuck with me, and would later come back to haunt me in the months and years to come.
Once the doctor left, the tears and sobs began to flow. The initial sense of relief that an answer had been found to explain the symptoms I had been surviving through for the past eight months, was quickly replaced with feelings of shock, devastation, anger, and frustration. I had no idea what “autoimmune” even meant, and up to that point in my life, I had never known anyone with this particular disease. As I watched the fireworks in the distance through my window the following day, I remember feeling more alone and scared than I ever had.
Upon discharge, I was given 3 prescriptions to fill and begin using immediately. Ironically enough, even though I was told that diet had nothing to do with my illness, I was given a strict list of foods to avoid “until my symptoms improved.” It was called a “Bland Diet,” and basically consisted of breads, crackers, and pasta made with refined white flour, with little to no fruits or vegetables, basically anything with fiber in it. To top it off, I was told I needed to gain the weight back that I had lost ASAP, so try to eat as much high calorie foods as possible. Candy, chocolate, cookies, ice cream, and lots of it, were all on the table.
When I arrived back to my parent’s home, I proceeded to get dressed in regular clothes for the first time in almost 2 weeks. I grabbed a pair of jean shorts that had fit me just weeks prior, pulled them up and fastened them, and to my horror when I let go, they slipped down to my ankles. Needless to say I began sobbing again, and didn’t stop for quite some time.
In the days and weeks that followed, I carried out my doctor’s instructions to the T. I ate what he told me to eat, I started taking all the medications as prescribed, yet my condition worsened. I was basically bed-ridden, as I had no energy whatsoever, and I couldn’t travel very far from a bathroom. About 2 weeks after my hospital discharge, I became even more sick, and this time started throwing up everything I attempted to eat. More tests and doctors visits, and results finally showed that I had picked up another infection called C. difficile, most likely from my hospital stay. Another medication added to my regime.
By this time, I was getting extremely depressed. I spent my time scrap-booking, and watching reruns of show after show. Due to the Prednisone I was taking, I had terrible insomnia and was unable to fall asleep before 3 AM every night. It was in those late night hours, after everyone else in the household had gone to sleep, while munching on the candy, cookies, and chocolate that my doctor was encouraging me to eat, I began searching for answers online. Before long, I found a few sites that offered information very contrary to what I was being told by my doctor. As it turned out, many others were sharing stories about how they healed themselves by changing their diet and lifestyle; so I studied, and read, and read some more.
As I continued to research and learn, I quickly became overwhelmed by the drastic measures that others with my disease employed in their lifestyle; I could not for one second imagine a life without being able to eat bread, pasta, grains, and *gasp* SUGAR?! However, as time went on and I didn’t improve, I knew that I would eventually need to embrace a change, and quickly. I no longer enjoyed food and even got to the point where I didn’t want to eat anything, because the excruciating pain experienced within minutes after eating anything was almost too much to bear.
Slowly, my journey at this point took a turn, and I began to embrace the fact that anything, would be better than what I was going through at the time. I had hit rock bottom. It was at that point that I started changing my mindset. For the first time, I started becoming more open minded and encouraged by the information I was gathering. I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of embracing such a strict diet that much of my research pointed to, however I kept on researching and learning.
How many of you can relate to such an experience in your life? Have you ever found yourself in a place similar to the one I was in ten years ago? Were you able to find answers and advice that helped you begin your journey of healing? Or are you still searching for answers?
As I continue along with my blog, I will share about the various stages of my journey to healing that I have been on. My hope is that it will inspire and encourage you, regardless of what you may be dealing with in your life. The biggest message I wish to pass along is that there is hope! The answers may not necessarily be what you want to hear, but I am living proof that embracing the right kind of change can be effective and life changing.
Thank you so much for reading along and sharing in this joyous journey with me! I would love to hear from you about issues you may be struggling with, questions you may have for me, or topics you would love to hear me address. Leave me a comment below or shoot me an email!