I’m a strong believer that things in life, however you want to define them, happen for us instead of to us.
But it can be hard to keep this in perspective when you’re in the midst of dealing with chronic illness. The “Why me’s?” might even start to creep in.
A lot of your focus and energy is spent on how to make the pain and suffering go away… and you begin to wonder if you’re ever going to feel “normal” again. And there are only so many setbacks you think you can endure.
But it’s simply amazing what you can do when you make your mind up isn’t it?
And that’s why I’m so excited to share Derek’s story with you today, as his mom, Kathy, graciously emailed us.
It’s a shining example of choosing health… and deciding to have that “never-give-up” mindset Jordan and Steve talk about so much throughout the blog.
As Kathy chronicles for you, unfortunately Derek had become another victim of the current medical system… on a downward health spiral of misdiagnoses and medications…
And while some of the pieces of the puzzle were beginning to show up, the setbacks and disappointments were beginning to take their toll.
But Kathy knew deep down that there were answers and she wasn’t willing to give up until he was better.
See, sometimes all it takes is that one thing that happens for us in our lives… like a phone call I had 4 years ago with my good friend Steve.
Or like the conversation Kathy had with a co-worker…
And it is my hope that if you (or someone you know) are struggling with chronic illness right now that Derek’s story is the catalyst that helps you on your healing path.
And that we can help keep you from any more pain and suffering…
DISCLAIMER: We recommend each person finds their custom version of the SCD diet that works for them and Derek’s story is a good reminder of just that. In Derek’s case, finding success means not eating meat right now. But know that meat is an important staple in our recommendations and it’s vital to not go more than 6 months without eating meat if you can help it, as research shows that micronutrient deficiencies, among other issues, are likely to arise. In fact, we feel that if you go meatless and/or overly restrictive in order to live symptom-free then it’s highly likely you’re actually masking an underlying root cause (or many). Now, Derek may be able to tolerate meat again down the road with the aid of digestive enzymes and Betaine HCl. In some cases, histamine intolerance can cause a lot of symptoms and a supplement like DAOSin can really help. If you find yourself in a similar situation as described in this post, we would recommend working with a skilled functional medicine practitioner and ordering the right root-cause testing. Either way, this is an incredible story and we can’t wait to stay up to date on how Derek progresses 🙂
[Enter Kathy, Derek’s Mom]
Derek was born in 1981, and by 19 months he was experiencing recurrent ear infections.
He was frequently on penicillin and by age 4 allergic to it (and repeatedly prescribed other replacement antibiotics).
As a child, he had allergies to dogs, trees, ragweed, apples, almonds, peanuts and beef. These caused mild asthma-like symptoms and headaches.
Otherwise, he was a smart, normal, healthy, athletic child and teenager.
Antibiotics for Infection Lead to Anxiety Attacks (and More Medication)
In 1999, when he was almost 18, Derek had a nipple ring inserted, got a rash on his chest and down his abdomen caused by an infection. In order to clear it up, he was given an antibiotic called Biaxin.
Immediately following this antibiotic treatment, he began having severe anxiety attacks. In fact, he was hospitalized because of his fear that he might hurt himself.
The doctors diagnosed him with severe anxiety and depression as a result of his parent’s divorce, etc.
He was prescribed Paxil, which he remained on until 2013 (32 years of age), except for several attempts to wean off of it (each time severely unsuccessful).
The Vicious Cycle of Chronic Inflammation and Sciatic Pain Begins
From 2010 to 2012, his diet was very poor and he went from a good weight of 180 to 240 pounds. He was getting pins and needles and pain in his abdomen when he ate certain foods, such as donuts, chocolate milk, cereal with milk, etc. (He had always eaten 2 bowls of cereal before bed every night.)
In early 2013, Derek again tried to wean off of Paxil, but during this time he had to take Clindamycin for a bad tooth. His stomach was “scoured” by this antibiotic.
His chiropractor explained to him that his herniated disc was caused by inflammation from food sensitivities.
This was Derek’s turning point.
Root-Cause Testing Influences Discontinuation of All Medication
He sent a stool sample to Enterolab and his results showed severe sensitivities to:
- Gluten = 264
- Casein = 153
- Eggs = 53
- Soy = 47
Note: Normal sensitivity rating for all of these is 10!
In March 2013, Derek stopped eating all of the above foods. He experienced extreme withdrawal, but once out of his system he never took Paxil again – proving, in my mind, that his anxiety was caused by eating foods to which he was sensitive.
In April 2013, Derek began juicing, however he used mostly fruits to do so, which he had difficulty tolerating. So, he changed to mostly veggies and seemed to do fine as a whole with the juicing, until about January 2015 as he was rapidly losing weight.
Setbacks Give Rise to Discovery of SCD Diet
In January 2015, he had some increased stress in his business life. He had also “cheated” a little by eating in restaurants where he couldn’t be sure of whether his food was cooked with foods he was sensitive to and sometimes had bacon and eggs.
He began having difficulty eating almost all foods. And he soon lost more than 30 pounds beyond his normal weight of 180 (which he had successfully reached after removing the foods he was sensitive to).
By about March of 2015, out of desperation, I began to discuss Derek’s health issues with anyone who might have knowledge about what to feed him that he could tolerate.
Thankfully, I found out from a coworker of mine that June that he had cured his daughter of her autism symptoms using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
I immediately ordered the SCD Lifestyle book and started Derek on phase 1. We had to make modifications, as he wouldn’t eat the gelatin and couldn’t eat the yogurt or eggs…
But he stuck to the diet extremely well (with a few cheats of fruit he tried before he should’ve).
The Struggles and Frustrations of the SCD Diet
Derek struggled and experienced a lot of frustration while on the diet.
And he realized that food was making him sick and was very afraid he might not recover when he hit 146 pounds. (Way too low on his usually stocky 5’10” frame.)
When he was really ill, from January to about December of 2015, he was unable to workout regularly at the gym, as it made his stomach even worse.
He would be going along great on the diet but would start eating something that set him back 2 months in time. For example, avocado is one food that seems to have given him a lot of discomfort and he still can’t eat it.
The hardest part about doing the SCD diet was flushing out the bad bacteria in Derek’s gut. (He had his stool tested through a naturopath and was advised he had the build up of bad bacteria.) I believe he likely had Candida as well and that it took so long to clear because his gut was so leaky from years of damage.
The SCD Diet Successes are Truly Remarkable
Derek now weighs about 170lbs, and has been able to work out again (for the last 3 months). He now eats NO gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, MEAT and hardly any nuts. He couldn’t eat the gelatin at all. And many of the veggies gave him problems at the start.
I know the SCD specifies meat as one of the staples of the diet, however Derek simply cannot tolerate it right now so he had to stop. He found that his body just doesn’t feel completely well and free of those foods. Some days, he can still tell that he’s eaten something that doesn’t work for him.
The best tool was introducing one new food every 4 days. Once he religiously stuck to this eating method (and stopped eating the ones that didn’t work), he was gradually able to expand the foods he could eat. When he strayed away from this, he would have setbacks and wouldn’t be able to figure out which new food was the culprit.
After about 9 months on the SCD diet, and only after he gave up eating meat as well, did he truly feel like himself again.
The most remarkable thing about Derek’s journey, though, is that he feels so much better psychologically.
In 1999, I was shocked when my normal, healthy son had to go on anti-anxiety medication. And I was further shocked when every time he tried to stop taking it he crashed and was incapable of functioning without it.
Ever since he stopped eating the foods to which he’s sensitive to in April 2013, he hasn’t needed any medication and is an extremely successful, healthy, fit, positive and wonderful young man!
Thank you to Jordan and Steve and all of you at SCD for giving my son his mental and physical health back!
Wow! What a powerful story of triumph and overcoming health adversity, Kathy and Derek. Thank you so much for sharing it with us and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to pass this on to our community.
If you’re just getting started and you’re ready to take your health into your own hands like Derek and you need more support, a great place to start is our step-by-step 90-Day SCD Diet guidebook. Time and time again, it has proven to be the most efficient and effective way to heal your gut.
Not fully convinced? That’s okay, skepticism is encouraged here. We’ve got quite a few more stories of SCD success for you here.
Who knows, maybe Derek’s story is the inspiration you’ve needed and it’s just a matter of time before you’re on our blog too!
In health (from all of us at SCD Lifestyle),