Sara’s Story: Ulcerative Colitis

My symptoms with Ulcerative Colitis started about four and a half years ago. I had just had my first child and was a stay at home mom. Being in the house by myself allowed me to cope/ignore the severity of my condition. In the beginning I would eat breakfast and need to move quickly to the bathroom with what felt like diarrhea but resulted in a small amount of mucus in the toilet. Over the next few months the urges went from five to 25 visits a day, now with blood and mucus. I would run to the bathroom in the morning, after breakfast, and sometimes not make it leaving a trail of blood and mucus in my path. The final straw for me was being frozen in my tracks at the grocery store, unable to move for fear of a blood and mucus accident. The problem was that sometimes the urge would be so strong and nothing was left, but you never knew. So I made an appointment to see my doctor. She immediately sent me to a Gastroenterologist and the following day I had a colonoscopy. It really went that fast, from complete denial to full medical treatment.

The results from the colonoscopy came back with this diagnosis: Severe Ulcerative Colitis and a polyp that was removed just to be safe. Since I was in my early thirties the doctor said it was nothing to be too concerned about but to be safe she would have it biopsied. It came back as a stage three adenoma which if left would have turned into full blown colon cancer. She said I would not have made it to 40. That was horrifying to hear for a new mother with a young son.
So I felt a little blessed by the UC, maybe it saved my life. I started taking medication that made me feel amazing for about a week until I broke out in nasty hives. I was switched from one medication to the next until we found one that worked. (Asacol, Prednisone, Bentyl, Colazal, etc) I still had symptoms here and there but not as frequent or severe as before. I thought I felt pretty good. Of course I was comparing how I felt to those early months at home alone not to the healthy person I once was. I started getting bouts that were more severe and with it came bloating and cramping. I would bloat so badly that I would not be able to close the pants I had put on that very morning. I was given a dose of steroids which was the worst drug yet. I stopped taking them and got back on my normal pills. This same cycle would repeat itself over and over. Sometimes I felt great, sometimes I did not.

This past December, 2007 turned out to be my breaking point. I was bloating and cramping after almost every meal and started taking a strong muscle relaxer to alleviate the pain. I would lay on the couch and read a magazine at night and take my pills after I ate. All of a sudden I realized that I could not read any of the words in the magazine. I told my husband that my eye sight was going and made an appointment with an eye doctor. But as the days went on the blurring got worse. I went to my primary doctor and found out it was an adverse side effect of the medication. I backed off a little but the cramping was still there. I had to take the pills. On Dec. 15, 2007 my family had to leave a party because I was in so much pain I could not stand up straight. I ate a small piece of salmon and when I got home I was on the toilet on and off for three hours getting it out of my system. This was my worst nightmare come true. My body was completely failing me. I was in bed in pain for days. The cramps were unbearable and I could not eat.

My doctor was out off town so I went to see her office mate, a real old school doctor with very bad advice. He upped my meds and I followed orders but I knew this was the end of a road for me. I knew I had to do something different. I was very scared and felt like I had lost myself. That is when the miracle happened. Through a friend of a friend I was given Russell’s name and advised to phone him. I called him in desperation and was shocked when he actually answered his own phone. I was holding back tears as we spoke. I felt pretty helpless, a broken woman. I signed up and followed his plan. Within a week I felt like a new person. A month later I was shocked to discover how much control I had over the supposedly “incurable disease” I once had. I had been led to believe that my “disease” was out of my hands. I now realize it is all under my control. At times that is scary too, but in a different manageable way. I now realize that my own health is my own responsibility. And now that I know what to do, I do it gladly most of the time. Especially knowing what the alternatives are. I had suffered long enough. I have completely changed my diet and lifestyle and thank Russell with the great health and energy I am now experiencing every day!

Sara Vincent Maldonado