Back when I was in the throes of Celiac disease – when I would be up all night with horrible diarrhea and cramping – I used to wish I could just “go back”…
Back to before I was sick…
Back before I was worried I would die before I got to see my kids grow up…
Back to the carefree days in high school when I felt like I was invincible…
Back before IBD.
Guess what though?
Right now, my health is way better than it was before I was ever sick…
Now you couldn’t pay me to go back to before I was sick!
And it’s not just that I feel better (or look better, because there is that too) – it’s that being sick and overcoming it has given me a whole new perspective and appreciation for life.
If I hadn’t gotten sick, I wouldn’t be in the best health of my life right now.
I wouldn’t know my mission in life was to help other people heal their digestive issues.
And I wouldn’t get to meet awesome people, like Kyle.
Today, I’m honored to give Kyle a platform to share his story with you.
Like me, Kyle isn’t looking to “go back” to before he was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease… instead he’s embracing a bright future and awesome health with the help of SCD (and his lovely wife).
My name is Kyle. I am a 32-year-old teacher who lives in a small town in North Central Washington. I absolutely love my job – I work with middle school kids, 7th grade primarily. I have an amazing wife who has walked with me through every step of this journey. We have a one-year-old son, who is all boy! Oh and I have Crohn’s disease. I always include that piece last because I never want to be defined by my disease, Crohn’s disease is a piece of my story, but not the whole thing!
Here Is My Story
I was 6 months into my first year of marriage, but little did I know that the next 2 years would be the most difficult stretch of my life.
It all started with a few little spells of sickness here and there. First, a week’s worth of diarrhea in February that led to losing 5 pounds. I had stomach cramps when I ate certain things, my energy was lower, and I had leg cramps periodically at night…
Then, in April 2012, I was hit with a 2-month long flare up – though I didn’t know to call it that at the time. I lost 15 pounds and was completely depleted of energy and my normal color. I spent the evenings lying on the couch until the next morning when I had to get up enough energy to get through another day of teaching middle school kids.
It was at that point a friend who had Ulcerative Colitis asked one question, “Are you seeing blood when you use the bathroom?” I nodded and she responded that it was time for me to seek some professional help.
Fortunately, things evened out in June and I actually started to feel a little like my normal self. I continued the process of getting plugged in with a GI doctor and in July was given my first colonoscopy. I was diagnosed with a “mild case” of Ulcerative Colitis, I was given a drug called Lialda and told things should clear up within the week. Well… things didn’t clear up, in fact, things began to spin out of control once again.
From Mild Case to Tough Case
My one-year wedding anniversary came and that very night, everything BLEW UP (pun intended).
I was unable to sleep at night because the stomach pain was so intense. I was going to the bathroom 20 or more times per day and each time seeing a darker color of blood. I had sweats and chills, cramps, and dehydration. I was told by my GI to go to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital.
While I thought I was having a colitis flare, after a week and a half in the hospital I was also diagnosed with a C. difficile infection. Over the next 29 days, I would undergo labs nightly, 2 blood transfusions, 2 rounds of different antibiotics, 24 hours of TPN, and more pain management meds than I could count.
Eventually I was able to return home. Over the next year, I tried several different medications for colitis. I’d see some improvement, but looking back, it was just a temporary mask for the beast dwelling in my gut.
One year later, almost to the date, the spin cycle started back up again. I had a colitis flare, then an antibiotic-resistant strain of C. difficile. I spent the next 2 months of my life laid up and unable to do my job. My body was in such a depleted state that I didn’t recognize who I was.
During this flare, I had an abscess appear outside of my colon and a fistula formed. I had to have my first seton placement. My diagnosis changed from UC to Crohn’s disease – an “acute case.”
Reaching My Breaking Point (And Starting SCD)
It was at that point that I decided I wanted to find another way. The next option for me was to start cutting things out.
Luckily, I had a friend who had used SCD to treat their UC.
When I suggested trying SCD to my doctor he said, “Go for it.” Though he didn’t have much confidence in the diet, he was out of other ideas, too.
So, on November 9, 2013, I went off all meds to treat my Crohn’s and my wife and I began the journey of SCD together.
A Big Transition to SCD
We took SCD very seriously. This was our last option, our only option at this point.
So we looked at the phase list from SCD Lifestyle website and followed it religiously. I waited 3-5 days for every single item. I made notes on any changes that I noticed. I actually had a copy of the phase list on my fridge that I checked off as we went through the process.
Was this hard? Absolutely!
At first, I was hungry all the time. Before SCD, I was a major snacker, so not having much to snack on other than homemade applesauce and scrambled eggs was a challenge.
But I began to notice that things were getting back to normal in my daily life. We stayed true to the list the first 6-8 months. For the first time, I was noticing that I was not taking any steps back in my Crohn’s journey.
3 Years, No Flares
Three years after starting SCD, I have been on the longest stretch of health since being diagnosed back in 2012. I have not experienced any major flare symptoms.
And I have the support of my GI doctor for using diet to treat Crohn’s disease. While he wasn’t a believer when I started SCD, my success has convinced him SCD can work.
It has been very much a learning process for both my wife and I. Grocery shopping is no longer a mindless task. We read everything, we are in the kitchen a lot, and we make big amounts of everything, so there is always something on hand if I need something on the go.
I do not act like I have the magic bullet because I don’t. But I have found something that I believe has given me my life back. Crohn’s disease is a terrible disease, but using SCD has allowed me to take control of my health and not only keep it status quo, but rise above!
SCD Gave Me Control Again
Do I still feel like I have Crohn’s disease? Yes. I am not saying that SCD took everything away, but it gave me control again.
I still experience a cramping feeling daily in the left side of my gut. Sometimes it is a major discomfort, some days it is just a dull ache that I have learned to live with. I still have days where I notice an increase in bowel movements, sometimes I have looser bathroom trips than normal. But, now, my symptoms are a learning process. Instead of just suffering, now I am looking back at what did I eat? How did my body respond? Etc. It’s not just about what you are eating, but learning to listen to your body.
SCD Gave Me a New Normal
I think the advantage we have living today with IBD is there are so many more resources out there than even 20 years ago.
People like Jordan and Steve have put the time and energy into getting information out there to people. They help people not only believe that it is possible to heal through your diet, but also it isn’t a “foreign way” of living. In fact, SCD is a very healthy way of living. I know that my immune system is stronger as a result of how I now choose to eat.
In the end, what I want for those who read this to take away is it is possible to achieve a new normal in your life living with IBD.
I was able to use the SCD to take back control of my health. Is it for everyone? Maybe not, but it is possible. Crohn’s and colitis may be a disease that you have, but it is not who you are. I hope my story is a small piece of encouragement in your life.
I can’t thank Kyle enough for sharing his story with us.
Are you ready to take back control and find your new normal?
Do you want to join me and Kyle in becoming better after IBD?
In good health,