Hilary’s Story – Ulcerative Colitis
My entire life I thought it was normal to feel bloated or gassy. I spent most of my life constipated. I made no connections between what I ate, how I ate, or when I ate to how I felt. I knew no other way than to feel bloated and gassy all the time.
Later in life, I began to feel crampy too at random times after meals. In graduate school, I would have such severe cramps I would have to stop whatever I was doing, lay down and breathe deeply. The doctors at the health center diagnosed me with IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They prescribed something to help the cramps, but it didn’t work. I was told there was no cause or cure for IBS and they sent me on my way. The IBS continued intermittently for 8 years.
In 2001, I began bleeding rectally. I was gassy, crampy and bleeding. I sought help at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic. My GI, Dr. Paaso, did a sigmoidoscopy and confirmed that I had Ulcerative Proctitis. I was prescribed mesalamine enemas. I dutifully followed the enema routine for several months and my symptoms subsided. I hoped that was the end of the Ulcerative Proctitis. Unfortunately, every major stressful turn in life brought on another flare. I managed my symptoms well, preventing flares for long periods of time, but they always came back eventually.
One year later I was sick again. More enemas treated the symptoms. When they reoccurred shortly thereafter, I was put on asacol medication. I took those pills for several months and the symptoms dissipated. Another year later in 2003, I flared again and spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy on medication. The symptoms subsided once again.
Finally, in 2004, another flare started. I tried to deny what was happening and continued on with my life. Two months later, I was back at Palo Alto Medical Clinic to see Dr. Babb. This time, a sigmoidoscopy confirmed that my Ulcerative Proctitis had spread from 3 inches to a flaming 2 feet of my colon which made it Ulcerative Colitis. I was very discouraged. More enemas were started. At the same time, I started losing my hair. A dermatologist at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic confirmed Alopecia Areata; yet another autoimmune disorder. Now I was on enemas and getting cortisone shots in my head. No explanation could be provided and the best I could do was manage my symptoms. I felt depleted, defeated and discouraged. There had to be another way.
I turned to alternative practitioners. A homeopath named Karen Cohen treated my immune system with a constitutional remedy. After months of shots in my scalp that weren’t working, she convinced me to stop and let the remedy work. My hair stopped falling out. I felt a bit stronger. At the same time, I went to see Dr. Audra Foster, a naturopathic physician. She started me on Vitamin B injections that gave immediate energy to my body. She prescribed an arsenal of supplements, all of which I took dutifully. I felt better, my colitis symptoms were subsiding and I was tapering off the enemas.
I still wanted to discover the root cause of my troubles. I began a series of testing for food sensitivities. A blood test for celiac disease was inconclusive. I gave up gluten. I felt less irritated but was still gassy and bloated at times. I took a very expensive AlCat test that gave me an extensive list of things to avoid until I became desensitized. I was doing all sorts of treatments, my symptoms seemed to be under control and I felt less depleted. It was short lived.
A final flare in January 2007 threw my frustration level over the edge. If I was applying so many alternative approaches, living with a hugely limited diet, and still flared, what good was it all doing? I learned about Russell Mariani from a friend, Mara Shamaya. I read his book. I phoned him to find out more information.
I was convinced by reading the testimonials of others with colitis (Russell included) that I should try his program. I wanted the promised outcome of being able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. I had a consultation and began working with Russell right away. (April 2007)
I was full of doubts and concerns starting the program. It was scary to give up western medicine’s treatment for ulcerative colitis for the unknown, non traditional approach. (unknown and non traditional to me that is!) I thought the products Russell recommended looked unscientific and ineffective. Yet, at the same time, the program Russell described made sense to me and I was desperate to try anything that might work because nothing else was. When I finally did start the program, things got worse, not better. Symptoms of a flare persisted for over 2 months. I continued cleansing and nourishing and Russell coached me through it all. After 2 months I could see and feel big improvements, but I still had symptoms. Russell was patient and resourceful. At times I was doubtful this was leading anywhere but he remained confident and I remained committed. Russell helped me stay committed. After tweaking my functional habits and cleansing my kidney and liver, things turned around completely. I believe that I needed to be entirely retrained on my functional habits. I also believe that I was extremely toxic! After months of cleansing, my body finally began to heal and strengthen. It wasn’t any one piece of the program, but all the pieces of the program working as a whole that allowed me to heal.
It is now September 2007. I didn’t know how good I could feel inside my own skin! I am no longer gassy, seldom bloated, I sleep well at night, my immune system is back, my hair thicker and I am at an optimal weight (15 pounds thinner than when I started). Best of all, a colonoscopy in September, 2007 revealed that my “inflammatory bowel disease is in remission.” I expect all of these benefits to continue as I now know how to heal myself. I like my new body and want to keep it. I now value the sensitivity of my body instead of ignoring it. If I listen to my body, I can give it what it needs to be healthy. Imagine that!
I think the most important things I learned about during the Intestinal Regeneration Program were how to use food, water, algae, and various cleanses to heal myself from so many troubling symptoms. The complementary habits of Functional Nutrition are the keys to everything: the watercure, the Essentials, effective colon cleansing, kidney cleansing and liver cleansing: chewing, not eating late at night, not overeating. It all seemed unlikely to work in the beginning, too simple, but it worked and I am very grateful. If healing is about building something you and your program provided me with all the tools. I will miss talking with you on the phone every week and all the supportive emails. I am so grateful to you for the gift of healing you give!