How long did you struggle with your digestive pain? Did it feel like a black cloud was following you everywhere you went?
Because that’s how my life felt, as I struggled with Celiac disease. Honestly, battling this illness for the better part of a decade was mentally and physically draining. I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes didn’t know if I’d ever get better.
I got really good at doing one thing that really made a difference, though. Sure, all of the diet, supplements and lifestyle changes were absolutely vital to my recovery, but it was pain that got me through and out the other side. I got really good at using my pain to push me through all the tough times.
I’m so grateful now to be able to say that my gut is healed and more and more time has passed since I had agonizing diarrhea 10-15 times per day. But I’ve got to say, the memory of that pain is still right there. It keeps me focused on continuously taking care of my body, so I can be the best father, friend and health engineer I can be. And every once in a while we get an email, seemingly from out of nowhere, from someone who is totally on the same wavelength.
With that said, I’d like to introduce you to Nina, who fought her way through diagnoses of Ulcerative Colitis AND Celiac Disease.
Her story is filled with inspiration because she never gave up…
And now her life is completely different.
Read on to learn what it took for Nina to heal and feel better than she ever thought she could.
I had been pretty healthy all my life, up until 1995. Our little girl was 6 months old when I was told I had Breast Cancer; I was 32.
The first doctor said it was the worst kind and that I was going to die. It was horrifying.
My husband and I refused to believe him and went through two other doctors before we found one that was truthful and helpful. I had a partial mastectomy and radiation therapy of my left breast and by the grace of God have been cancer free ever since.
At that time, I was helping my body heal by using a holistic food program and supplements. I went on to have 2 more girls, and after the 3rd daughter was born my body started to act up. I ended up with NASH, which is a non-alcoholic sclerosis of the liver. I got really sick and had to change my diet and had blood drawn to check liver enzyme levels every month for a year.
During this time, I started having allergies. I would get hives all over my body, including my face. We had no idea what was causing them.
Along with the hives came ferociously debilitating headaches.
So, kind of ignoring the reasons and not figuring anything out, we went on a scheduled trip to Hawaii, my husband and our three daughters and my mother in law. Our girls were 8 months, 2 years and 4 years old. The second evening after arriving in Hawaii, I suddenly went into anaphylactic shock right there on the street. My husband rushed me into an air-conditioned hotel lobby and I was able to breathe again and called for the medics. I ended up with a Benadryl shot and instantly felt deflated.
But the trauma of having that experience never went away.
For Years, I Lived in a State of Anxiety
Upon returning to Alaska, I went to an Allergy specialist and was tested for everything. I was allergic to 5 different kinds of mold. I had allergies to Birch trees, Cottonwood trees, all local grasses, and then the food allergies started.
My body was in full breakdown mode, so I went on allergy medicine and coped with all this for a couple of years. I was also experiencing hormone problems and decided to get a full hysterectomy (which sent me into full on menopause).
That’s when things really started to change. I couldn’t eat certain foods. My weight changed from being at 120 pounds nearly my whole life to 140. I felt bloated and sluggish and just sick most of the time. I was taking compound mixed Progesterone, not knowing whether it helped or not.
After a year of this, life became even more stressful, and I developed severe blisters and canker sores in my mouth, and I would get these very bizarre headaches. There would be so many sores in my mouth, and they’d get so large, that I couldn’t talk or eat.
I was losing weight and no one could tell me what was wrong – this went on for a year.
One Day, I Woke Up with Horrendous, Bloody Diarrhea
I panicked and called my gastroenterologist. We scheduled a colonoscopy, and wham, I diagnosed with UC.
It was pretty bad, they sent me on my way with Asacol and told me what foods to avoid.
I took the Asacol for 3 days and got violently ill. The blisters were still there, and by this time I weighed about 115 pounds. I tried all year to feel better – different foods, different doctors, acupuncture, massage therapy – anything that would help and I knew I couldn’t end up in the hospital. My hair started to fall out and my teeth shifted because of the way I chewed my food depending on which side the sores were in my mouth.
I developed welts on my legs – and something else I don’t even remember – so I finally saw a new practitioner. (I was down to 80 pounds then.) She told me I had classic signs of Celiac disease. She put me on probiotics right away and did a genetic blood test. I had been tested for H. pylori and Celiac twice before but results came back negative both times.
But this time the test was positive for Celiac. Wow, what a relief!
I finally began to wrap my head around what this was, so I got a card to go see a dietitian and cooking classes for Celiac disease.
That was 6 years ago.
I Learned Everything About Celiac Disease
I went to the classes and learned everything about Celiac disease and bought books and followed everything to a T. I regained about 10 pounds and was taking vitamin B shots every week for a year. The blisters in my mouth went away and I felt better (but still weak). However, after 2 years on a gluten-free diet, my diarrhea and the blood was still prevalent.
I was puzzled and confused and frustrated.
It got so bad I developed painful internal and external hemorrhoids. This went on for a year. It was to the point I couldn’t leave my house for days. I would get up, eat and start the bathroom routine on the toilet. Then, I’d try to get comfortable, but right back into the bathroom. Then, I’d try to stop the pain, but be right back in the bathroom.
I was literally drained and severely weak.
This went on every day till about 2 in the afternoon. Sometimes, I was able to leave to get groceries, check the mail, or go to the bank (as long as I knew where all the bathrooms were).
My husband was working in Taiwan and I was raising three teenage daughters. I had no support and all my friends knew for sure that I was dying. No one knew what to do or how to help.
I finally got a hold of a lady who was doing a presentation on the GAPS diet. This gave me a flicker of hope.
So, I shared my situation and worked with her for three months and started the GAPS diet. I noticed a slight difference but something was still missing. I went one step further after being introduced to Breaking the Vicious Cycle.
I was fully engaged by now, realizing the food connection.
I Went on the SCD Diet Strictly
Some of my symptoms subsided and I felt a little bit better. I felt good enough to travel for the first time in 5 years.
So, my daughters and I went to Taiwan to visit my husband for a month. (Mind you, I still had diarrhea and bloody stools.)
And when my daughters and I returned, I got really sick. The diarrhea had changed, I was unable to hold in any food, and I felt super hungry all the time.
I didn’t think it could get any worse, but I was wrong.
I literally lived by and on the toilet, I had every kind of hemorrhoid medication and others I had made. I was desperate, weak and starting to lose my internal hope of ever being healthy again.
Then, one day I decided to reach out to the SCD Lifestyle guys. I contacted Steven Wright. We did a consult over the phone and we ordered stool testing and I got on some supplements.
I Have Been Mostly Symptom-Free Since
When the tests came back, I had both a bacterial infection and parasites. At this time, I had to schedule an appointment with my doctor to address my hemorrhoids.
Now, here’s the kicker, though. The doctor I had been seeing for the past 17 years, who is a renowned gastroenterologist, is always 3-6 months out for any appointments. We live in Alaska and he is the guy.
So, I went to see a proctologist for my hemorrhoids, and immediately following the appointment he called my gastroenterologist to make a colonoscopy appointment.
Three days later, I’m in getting a colonoscopy and coincidentally the stool tests had come back. He also found three pre-cancer polyps, so he removed them on the spot and I went home.
For medication, I was given was two different powerful antibiotics, Asacol tablets and Asacol suppositories and cream. I didn’t take the tablets but I did the suppositories and cream, as prescribed.
That was July 2014. I followed the SCD diet strictly and took the suggested probiotics and supplements.
And I’m happy to say that I have been mostly symptom-free since.
Last October, I had shoulder surgery to repair some damage I did to it during the summer. After the surgery (and some other stress in our lives), I ended up with a mild flare.
Now, I’m back to the beginning of the SCD diet and trying to heed off a severe flare.
These Past 6 Years Have Been a Real Learning Experience
I know so much now about these two Autoimmune disorders, about Leaky Gut, gut health and much, much more. I took a year and went to school for my Holistic Nutrition Certification. I do Holistic Nutrition Coaching and cooking classes.
I have reached out into our community and connected with several integrative practitioners, to help others who suffer from these and other autoimmune disorders. I remember feeling so isolated, helpless and alone and I vowed to help others so they would not have to go through the pain and despair I did.
I hope this helps and please feel free to contact me. Support groups and sharing our stories are very crucial in helping others heal. It is about our experience, strength and hope that makes the difference for us all.
You’re amazing Nina! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being so open and raw about what it was like to go through everything. Allowing us to share your story is going to help a lot of people!
Our resources, like the Quick Start Guide and collection of over 80 podcasts, are completely free and we highly encourage you to check them out, especially if you’re just getting started. If you want the most efficient and effective way to heal your gut, then get a copy of our book here.
Looking forward to hearing from all of you with your success stories.
In good health,