In the summer of 2004, it had been 31 years since my own experience with ulcerative colitis. One day I received a phone call from a young man named Grant. He was 22 years old and had been suffering from ulcerative colitis for almost four years. He was at his wit’s end and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His life had become totally unbearable to him. As he described his symptoms and condition to me over the phone, so much of what he had been suffering from reminded me of my own experiences so many years ago. As he started to get better soon after following my suggestions, I knew it was time for me to write this book. I started writing this book in September 2004. RM
Here is Grant’s story in his own words:
At the start of my sophomore year of college I began to notice blood on my toilet tissue. At the time I felt healthy and decided to continue on with my normal business, which meant ignoring the situation. I took this approach for about three months until I began to notice that my bleeding was progressively getting worse. I began to get really worried for I knew that the sight of blood in a bowel movement was not a normal part of the process. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it wasn’t good. I discussed the situation with my parents and they immediately set up an appointment with a gastroenterologist (GI doctor) to have the situation checked out. The GI doctor performed a sigmoidoscopy and told me that I had a mild case of proctitis and that it wasn’t anything serious and I didn’t need to worry about it.
Out of curiosity, I began to question the doctor as to the cause of the proctitis and whether this condition could lead to anything more serious down the road. The doctor told me that they didn’t know what caused the bleeding and the best thing for me to do was to take anti-inflammatory suppositories and just forget about it. Relieved that my situation wasn’t more serious, I continued on with my life as a regular college student.
Gradually, over the course of the next several months, I began to see more and more blood in my stool and I started to get terrible cramps in my gut. I went back to my GI doctor and expressed concern that my proctitis seemed to be getting worse. He assured me that the cause was unknown and that the only thing that he could do was to prescribe more suppositories. I felt an overwhelming innate sense that my proctitis had a simple solution and that the doctor was leading me down the wrong road. As I began my junior year in college the blood in my stool was increasing, my gut began cramping severely, and I was battling constant fatigue.
I could no longer participate in the active lifestyle that I was accustomed to and became extremely discouraged. My parents made an appointment with our family physician to see if he could offer any suggestions about relieving my discomfort and fatigue. I explained to the physician how bad my situation had become over the past year and how it was ruining my life. He told me to bend over and he gave me the old rubber glove treatment. He told me that proctitis was a general term and that I probably just had a hemorrhoid. Like the previous doctor, he told me that I should take an anti-inflammatory suppository and to just forget about it.
I explained to him that I had been taking suppositories for many months and that they were not working. He got defensive. He told me that he was the medical professional and that I should just listen to his advice and not self-diagnose.
Discouraged after my visits to the first two doctors, I went to another GI doctor who performed another sigmoidoscopy and gave me a new diagnosis: Ulcerative Colitis. He told me that this was an auto-immune disease and that there was no cure, an answer that I really didn’t want to hear, considering the fact that I was 21 years old and didn’t want to live with this painful and distressing ailment for the rest of my life. This doctor then prescribed an enema product called Rowasa, and the drug Coloxyl, in an attempt to control my symptoms and alleviate some of the pain. I took these drugs for three months and saw no improvement in my condition.
As a result of taking these newest drugs, the only thing I noticed was that the pain and bloating in my stomach seemed to have become worse. I asked whether diet was a possible cause and the doctor said that diet had nothing to do with it. He told me that I should eat a well-balanced standard American diet, but he gave no direction or guidance as to what a well-balanced standard American diet was. As I left his office I felt as if the medical community was really letting me down. They were not being helpful at all, but rather than apologizing for not being able (or willing!) to answer my questions or reduce my pain and discomfort, they made me feel that it was all my fault, and worst of all, that my symptoms might just be the result of “my thinking or emotions” that somehow, it was all in my head. What, as if I were making all this up to get their attention? Right.
I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and started researching ulcerative colitis on my own. I decided to give certain diets a try to see if I could get my incurable condition to improve. I experimented with paleo-diets, low-carb diets, vegetarian diets, and even a strict raw food diet. Nothing worked. I kept getting worse.
Out of deep concern for my health, my parents forced me to go back to the GI doctor who always said the same thing: “We don’t know the cause” and that “you should just eat a well-balanced standard American diet.” This time, however, he added something new. He said that I shouldn’t worry because if things continued to get worse he could give me immune-suppressing steroid drugs and if necessary he could just remove the problematic sections of my colon. This did not seem like a proper solution to me at all.
I struggled my way through my last semester of college and ended up graduating, but I was so debilitated by that point in my life that I could barely make it to my final exams. I actually missed my graduation ceremony because I couldn’t leave the toilet for more than thirty minutes at a time. My parents were getting increasingly scared as they saw my once big, strong, athletic body wither away, and my emotional health along with it. Hey, I was scared too! I went to chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists, massage therapists, yoga professionals, anyone I could think of that might help my condition improve at all.
The proctitis that I was told was nothing to worry about had evolved into a monster that was destroying my life and leaving me with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I finally reached a point where I couldn’t leave my apartment and would spend the majority of the day on the toilet and then curled up in my bed in pain. Out of desperation, my mother contacted a family friend and neighbor, Scott Ohlgren, who is a natural health educator and writer. He recommended that I call Russell Mariani.
I found out that Russell had healed himself from ulcerative colitis (back in 1973) and that he had a great success record helping people with all kinds of intestinal problems. After the first ten minutes of my first conversation with Russell, my spirits were lifted and I knew that this guy knew what he was talking about. Instead of giving me more hyperbole about how ulcerative colitis was an autoimmune disease with no cure, he started to explain to me how my digestive system is supposed to function. He then explained that one of the causes of ulcerative colitis is the depletion of the mucus lining of my colon from years of dry, hard and difficult-to-pass stools. He talked about dehydration and probiotics. He talked about whole foods, acid and alkaline, and the kind of dietary fiber that would begin to gently restore the lining of my colon. It all made sense to me.
Russell had me change my eating habits and almost instantaneously my cramping and discomfort were gone and my bowels began to function properly for the first time in years. I felt relief in a matter of days. After just three weeks of working with Russell, I was confident that my years of suffering were a thing of the past. At this writing, it has been six months and I am completely pain-free and symptom-free. My “incurable ulcerative colitis” is nowhere to be found.
I’m baffled and angry that I had to endure years of pain and misery because the medical profession apparently didn’t know what they were talking about. They led me down the wrong road while destroying my hopes of ever healing my condition. What is up with that?
I feel extremely fortunate that circumstances led me to Russell. Without the nutritional guidance and weekly coaching and support from him, I would be living a nightmare of pain, misery, and hopelessness. I know that there are thousands of other individuals in the same situation that I was in and I can only pray that they are eventually presented with a similar opportunity to get well.
The moral of my story? Don’t ever let anyone make you believe that there is no cure and that you have to live with the pain and discomfort of ulcerative colitis for the rest of your life (or any other digestive system problem). The key to wellness is proper nutrition and learning about and then practicing the fundamentals of natural health.